Catacomb Snatch Original Soundtrack
Catacomb Snatch Original Soundtrack
March 20, 2012
Download at Bandcamp
The “Humble Bundle” concept of packaging several indie games together to sell them at a pay-what-you-want price has taken off in recent years. One of 2012’s’ Humble Bundles was initiated by Minecraft developer Mojang, who announced the “Humble Bundle Mojam”, a 60-hour event during which Mojang would create a new title from scratch, while gamers could make donations to get the bundle (it also included new titles from Oxeye Game Studio and Wolfire Games). To determine the game’s theme, Mojang ran an online poll and then decided to combine the most and least voted categories. That way, Catacomb Snatch turned out as an RTS-shmup game with a Steampunk-Ancient Egypt theme. After the 60 hours were over, over 79,000 bundles had been sold for more then US $440,000, all of which was distributed to various charities.
Part of putting a game together in only 60 hours is of course writing a score for it in this short time span. For this speedy task, Mojang managed to enlist the services of chiptune artists and remixers Mattias Häggström Gerdt (aka anosou) and Daniel Rosenfeld (aka C418). Both composers had already worked together on various Super Meat Boy albums and Cobalt EP. In addition to these, Rosenfeld had written the music for 2011 surprise success Minecraft, while Gerdt had won SEMO’s 2011 Award for Best Album – Fan-Arranged with The Answer, an album dedicated to the Armored Core series of games. Each composer contributed three track to Catacomb Snatch’s soundtrack, which was originally only released as part of the “Humble Bundle Mojam”. However, in March 2012, Rosenfeld made the 22-minute soundtrack available for free on his Bandcamp site.
Don’t be deceived by the short opening track “Theme”, which sounds as stereotypically Egyptian as you can get. Things turn much more interesting once we get to the meat of the album, the four longer tracks at its centre. Both Gerdt’s and Rosenfeld’s cues excel through the sheer variety of their heady beats and rhythms, catchy but also effortlessly complex, and always a joy to listen to. The focus is on the beats rather than the melodies, although both composers still make sure that the melodic fragments and riffs that they use add some colour.
Gerdt’s “Mummyf***er” and “Scarab’s Gold” are the more driving tracks on Catacomb Snatch, both powered by groovy synth beats and syncopated percussion rhythms. Like all longer tracks here, these cues take their time to let their beats work their magic before moving into the next section of the track. Short melodies either come courtesy of various chiptune sounds or Egyptian ethnic solo instruments, and while the latter are still pretty stereotypical, they work much better against the artfully assembled, contemporary background of these tracks. There’s also some fun detail work to be discovered on this album: for example, “Scarab’s Gold”, the album’s most playful track, features some bright, quick synth arpeggios to underscore the shining metal featured in the cue’s title.
Rosenfeld’s “Enforcer Brittanica” and “Dune Storm” feature slower, but no less entertaining beats than Gerdt’s compositions. “Enforcer Brittanica” greets you with a heavy, warm beat whose organic qualities are enhanced through its crackling vinyl sounds. “Dune Storm” is the soundtrack’s lightest and calmest cue, but still features some delicious rhythm work that rewards repeat listens. The percussion samples under the opening’s floating synth layers are heavily distorted and manipulated to generate Catacomb Snatch‘s most off-the-wall rhythms. Additionally, its closing minutes complicate their beats by mixing some sound effects under the drum kit rhythms, but the resulting polyrhythms never sacrifice the track’s steady groove. In their quieter moments, “Enforcer Brittanica” and “Dune Storm” also add some delectable jazzy overtones. Both Gerdt’s and Rosenfeld’s longer compositions smoothly switch between beat-driven episodes and quieter interludes, each track flowing naturally and given enough time to breath.
After this enchanting journey into exotic, genre-bending lands, “Ending” finishes the album on a light-hearted note with a cutesy chiptune melody and some bright, straightforward beats. It’s not meant to rival the title’s more substantial tracks, but it’s still a fun way to close the soundtrack.
Gerdt and Rosenfeld continue their winning streak with Catacomb Snatch and show themselves more than up to the task of banging out a great, if brief, soundtrack in a very short time. The two composers come up with an amazing array of various beats and rhythms that are as groovy and smooth as they are complex, rewarding both close listening and just head-bopping along. Apart from the brief opening and closing tracks, every cue runs at over four minutes, which gives the music time to breath and weave its spell as the composers mix chiptunes, Egyptian sounds and contemporary beats into an intoxicating mix that you’ll want to try again and again. If you’ve enjoyed the composers’ previous work, or would simply like to taste a delicious eletronic indie score, download this little free gem of a score now.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Simon Elchlepp. Last modified on August 1, 2012.