Gravity Well The Soundtrack
Gravity Well The Soundtrack
March 19, 2009
Download at iTunes
Since their advent, mobile phones have progressively improved and exuberant technology such as the iPhone is now available. Nonetheless, there is still a widespread prejudice that mobile phones are incapable of producing worthwhile games and game music. The iPhone’s Gravity Well is one of many titles that is likely to change this and make mobile gaming more widespread in the West. More importantly, its soundtrack shows that the iPhone can offer very professional music in both compositional and sound quality. The Humble Brothers, comprising former EA composers Ken Marshall and Traz Damji, offered 17 electronic pieces for the game. The results were released in digital form earlier this year.
The title theme immediately demonstrates the technical prowess of the soundtrack. The composition captures the style of the game with a blend of futuristic electronic beats and moody guitar work. The samples were carefully chosen to give a clean, smooth sound and the sound quality is as good as any next-gen project. Though the composition is intrinsically simple, it easily delivers in terms of atmosphere. The first full-length compositions, “Relativity” and “Event Horizon”, create relaxing soundscapes based on soft ethereal electronic samples. They gradually increase the pace and add on the layers to reflect the dynamic and colourful gameplay, but never become intrusive or disruptive either. Yet the soundscapes are so beautiful that they listeners entranced throughout. And although there are few expansive melodies to speak of, most themes have enough hooks and rhythmical impetus to still be compelling and memorable.
One of the most interesting features of the soundtrack is how a variety of guitars are used. Some tracks such as “Quantizer” and “Quantum State” smoothly integrate the guitars into the electronic backing to create surprisingly unusual timbres and rhythms. “Convection”, on the other hand, builds up from a funky opening into a piece highlighting soulful acoustic guitar melodies from the one minute mark. “Halo” also takes a slow-building approach, but successfully integrates electric guitars too. In contrast to most other pieces, an acoustic guitar solo opens “Aperture” while gorgeous synth pads and exotic wails gradually emanate from above. Talking of wails, “Solar Winds” is possibly the most emotional theme on the soundtrack; it builds up from almost martial beats into a spiritual passage featuring ethnic flutes and a female vocalists. Though inspired by new age music, it is tastefully and artistically treated.
The relaxing overall tone of the album is necessarily broken up by some more harder tracks. “Spectrum” and “Dark Matter” accompany more intense stages in the games with more punctuated electronic beats and the occasional passionate vocal sample. Meanwhile “Mean Density” takes a gritty approach with electric guitar riffs, hard drum beats, and even some turntable scratching. These tracks provide the meat needed to ensure the soundtrack is a diverse and emotional experience. The final stages are accompanied by a trio of progressively intense themes, “Mass Theory”, “Radius”, and “Symmetric”. The lattermost is especially interesting with its exuberant use of hip-hop voice samples and electronic distortion over the racing beats. “Velocity” ends the soundtrack with an upbeat rock ballad, although it is relatively generic compared to the electronic tracks. It still serves its purpose well in the game and is probably the only uninspired addition.
In summary, the fact that Gravity Well was made for the iPhone has no negative effect on the soundtrack musically or technically. The soundtrack would have been a professional accompaniment to a game made for any console. The Humble Brothers blend electronic and acoustic forces beautifully throughout the soundtrack to produce numerous relaxing and spacey tracks. They nevertheless ensure an interesting listen too by offering various hooks and plenty of variety. The major limitation of the soundtrack are the relatively short track times and hence overall 37 minute playtime. However, it’s still good value for money for those who enjoy electronic music and don’t mind digital downloads. Let’s hope this is the start of an era for high quality mobile phone soundtracks.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 19, 2016.