de Blob Original Soundtrack
de Blob Original Soundtrack
September 22, 2008 (CD Edition); December 22, 2008 (Digital Edition)
THQ’s de Blob excited young audiences across the world with its endearing characters, Nintendo-esque presentation, and interesting concept: to paint a city to its liberation. Australian developer Blue Tongue Entertainment asked their internal composer John Guscott to create a light-hearted retro funk score for the game. While the idea was far from novel — games as far back as ToeJam & Earl have adopted a similar stylistic approach — it was nevertheless refreshing for it to be revisited in an age filled with Hollywood stylings. The soundtrack was available as a bonus for those who purchased the game from Circuit City stores and was later commercially released for a limited time as a digital download.
“The Blob Theme” sets a suitable tone for this child-targeted game right from the title screen. With its stylish bass licks and quirky turntable scratches, its bound to generate intrigue in young listeners and set their feets tapping. It’s difficult to imagine seasoned funk fans enjoying this — it lacks the coolness, edginess, and complexity of the best funk out there — but it’s simple and humble nature absolutely complements the image of the game. What’s more, it has enough rhythm and development to entertain casual listeners from start to finish.
Before venturing into Chroma City, player can select the mood of the music they want to hear during the main gameplay. Guscott created ten tracks for this purpose, each with a slightly different mood and character. For example, the blissful “Décor” is a bossa-nova featuring dreamy Katamari-esque vocals and cuéca rhythms, while the defiant “Splashback” is a hard, lyrical homage to 1970s funk. The revolutionary “Un Pasado Lleno de Colores” brings some salsa into the mix, while the smooth “Dub Blob” is clearly reggae. The righteous “Into It” even incorporates some blatant nods to James Brown. Guscott actually fitted the mood to the music, rather than the other way around, and as a result not every track fits their mood that well, e.g. the unstoppable “Raydian Day” or fearless “INKT Downball”. However, this musically driven approach ensures listeners are offered plenty of diversity, without too many stereotypes.
During the game, the music actually evolves from its simplistic origins into more substantial compositions. As players paint more of Chroma City, more so-called ‘colour riffs’ are introduced — up to 250 per piece. This album features specially remixed pieces that capture the music in their full forms, but some tracks do give a taste of this evolution. A particularly dramatic example is “Crescent Chroma City”, which shifts from its slow origins — as a big band piece inspired by New Orleans — into a lively piano- and snare-punctuated piece. Less elaborate is “INKT Downfall”, which emerges from its repetitive origins to incorporate an extended guitar solo, but some development is better than nothing.
The score is a success due to a combination of its interesting composition approaches and its excellent implementation. Guscott sourced the talents of a number of studio musicians while recording the disc — including members of the acclaimed band The Bamboos — and they bring plenty of style to the release. For example, the lead players on “The Funky Blob” transform a simplistic and generic composition into a definitive highlight. The Hammond organ and electric guitar leads, in particular, bring so much character to the rhythms and make up for the dull part-writing of the slapped bass and drum kit. Likewise, while Guscott’s journeys into salsa, or reggae tend to be predictable, the musicians ensure these pieces still sound authentic and immersive. Largely because of their talent, these pieces wouldn’t sound out-of-place on instrumental albums dedicated to their genres.
All in all, de Blob is a highly impressive score. Guscott ensured the game’s sounds were refreshing and interesting with his choice of stylings, while the featured performers brought out the most of his compositions. What’s more, Guscott should be commanded for how he integrated the music into the game, with the ‘mood selection’ and ‘colour riffs’ concepts. That said, the release doesn’t always stand up as well on its own — many tracks will be too simple or stereotypical to warrant stand-alone interest, especially among seasoned funk listeners. The disc is nevertheless a mostly enjoyable listen.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.