Deformers Original Soundtrack
Deformers Original Soundtrack
April 21, 2017
Purchase on Bandcamp
Austin Wintory composed a rich, transcendental score with Journey. He composed a spirited and dramatic score with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. His Absolver soundtrack displayed his ability in unsettling and dissonant music. Deformers gives us his unabashedly whimsical side. The game is a brawler featuring what Wikipedia describes as “squishy ball-shaped creatures” that players control and use to fight each other. The soundtrack is – well, let’s just dive in and talk about it.
The soundtrack to Defomers reminds me of the music equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting. Imagine a slew of instruments (accordion, penny whistle, violin, electric guitar, soprano vocalist, what have you), thrown together with notes running wildly around all kinds of arpeggios, rhythms, and a few melodies that briefly appear before vanishing again. And then imagine Troy Baker monologing at the beginning of each track with an English accent and an alliterative script. Like a Jackson Pollock painting, the instruments and motifs and styles of Deformers are slathered across the musical canvas with abandon, and the result is an excellent kind of messiness that ends up being great fun.
Instead of starting with the beginning of the album, I’m going to start with the track that I think best encapsulates the album: “Bovine-Ursine Animosity”. As with most of the tracks, Troy Baker opens the piece by discussing what I imagine is some aspect of the game. (Austin Wintory’s left the following comment on his Bandcamp page regarding the narration: “…don’t ask about Troy Baker’s narration. I have no explanation.” So I won’t ask.) Regardless, “Bovine-Ursine Animosity” opens up with Baker describing the titular animosity; following his lines are an ominous bass drumroll, followed by some low brass and bells. It would sound even more ominous if Baker’s opening monologue hadn’t just ended on the word “noodles”. The track does lighten in mood as it continues. Ksenija Sidorova is at the forefront of this track with a fantastic and high-spirited accordion performance that carries us through different sections of music as the piece progresses. We are also treated to virtuosic violin and guitar performances demonstrating that despite the silliness of the score’s mood, the music quality is no joke.
Backing up to the beginning of the album, “I was Born for Squish” is a little more – normal? – and while certainly isn’t serious track by any means, gives the listener a hint of the score that’s to follow in a short opening fanfare. “The Peculiar Partnership of Sue and Hamilton” introduces Baker’s voiceover, and essentially turns into a western score, complete with whistles and fiery guitar strums. This isn’t the last time we see a Western influence; “Stax Rises” gives us some kind of Western waltz (whistle included). The piece runs into the same silliness as “Bovine-Ursine Animosity”, with the dramatic Western music opening just after Baker has explained that Stax is a “preposterous pillar of pancakes” whose ultimate goal is to grow taller. Additionally, parts of his theme seem to stray from Western-style to circus-style.
While Deformers‘ score boasts a modest number of tracks, most are very well developed, with several clocking in at over five minutes. “Gravity Crush” is one that nearly reaches nine minutes in length. The piece is a colorful mural of styles, themes, and instruments, with flamenco-like sections followed by concerto-like violin sections; there were several melodies that I found myself humming long after I’d heard the track. Wintory clearly had fun writing these tracks, and he chose his performers well; Kristin Naigus is featured on recorder here, with Scott Tennant on guitar (with a wonderful Spanish vibe). “Globular Vissitude”, another sprawling closing track, gives us a slow-building track with the main theme of the game in waltz form. There are distinct themes in Deformers, as disjointed as the album sometimes feels, so when you do hear tracks that focus on melody, they don’t sound out of place.
Wintory demonstrates his versatility in this soundtrack, lightening the mood of his previous scores without losing a shred of quality. There so many elements on this lively, 10-track album that I don’t think I could write a review without feeling like I’m leaving something out, whether its Holly Sedillos’ operatic soprano in “Furguson’s Trib Waltz” or the Mediterranean flair in “A Spectacle of Orbs” or the delightful guitars in “The Transubstantiation of Patty”. Originally, I thought I would get irritated after having my playlist broken with bouts of narration, but to be honest, I’ve grown to enjoy listening to Troy Baker talk about Isaac Newton, hamburgers, philosophy, or any other semi-relevant topic at the beginning of each track. However, for listeners less enchanted by the interruptions, purchasing the album on Bandcamp will also provide the buyer with non-voiceover versions of the tracks. Overall, I’m happy to say Wintory continues to surprise and delight his listeners with Deformers, and this was one of the easier 5-star ratings I’ve given.
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Posted on April 24, 2018 by Emily McMillan. Last modified on April 24, 2018.