October 13, 2009
Download at Bandcamp
Machinarium was a award winning game developed by Animata Design released back in 2009. Eight years later, I find myself listening to this masterpiece soundtrack regularly and enjoying it more each time. That’s quite a testament to composer Tomáš Dvořák and his ability to create unique emotionally engaging soundscapes. The game set in world of quirky robots and mechanical cities, juxtaposed with an entirely human love story containing a level of passion and detail that oozes through every screen, perhaps only ever surpassed by the soundtrack.
Each track is named after the scene it accompanies in the game. “The Bottom” opens the soundtrack with the tone for the whole album with its textured percussion, layers of plush bells, quirky synths and mellow harpsichords. Two thirds into the track, the beat fades away leaving an incredibly warm synth wash and filtered pianos.
Each piece lends itself to the image that a mechanised band in the Machinarium world is playing the music to you. Clattering percussion and robotic bleeps are offset by Dvořák’s trademark clarinet and plush pads, evolving what could be soulless automata into an emotional, organic composition.
“The Prison” reflects a melancholy frustration in the character through minor chords, sparse tinkles of the piano and glitches of droid voices all bathed in reverb and synthetic washes. Quickly followed by the more organic, introspective but hopeful “The Glasshouse with Butterfly”. Whilst using much the same instrumentation, adding in vinyl crackles and climaxing in a mellow jazz influenced rhythm track, Dvořák shows his mastery in composition.
Note that the official soundtrack is available in a couple of forms. There’s a commercial digital edition and a limited edition vinyl edition. They’re largely the same in content, but the sixth track “Mr. Handagote” is replaced with the incredible “By the Wall” in the vinyl edition. But fear not, digital listeners, as Tomáš Dvořák has also released a free five-track companion EP featuring “By the Wall” and some other highlights on his Bandcamp.
The Machinarium soundtrack is a comfy blanket you pull over yourself in the cold wintery nights. It’s the warm sun filtering through the leaves of the old oak tree in the park. The embrace of a lover not seen for too long. The words to appropriately describe such a beautiful body of work escape my luddite vocabulary. I only hope that something in this stream of consciousness can convince you to give the soundtrack a listen. From there, it sells itself.
Posted on January 19, 2017 by Pete Thomas. Last modified on January 19, 2017.