Concept Albums Ranked By Story

The concept album, either the best or worst idea a band can have. Instead of making a movie, staging a play, or making a short-run miniseries on HBO, the story is told entirely through the album’s music. But for all the scrutiny these works get, no one seems to want to discuss how good their story is.

So I sat down with some of the classics of the medium, and not anything that has been seriously expanded upon: no albums that have been turned into a full stage show, a novel, or movie, I wanted to judge them purely on their music. They also had to be albums with a full narrative, not just songs with a loosely shared plot thread or story aspect. I also refrained from looking up anything about them and their stories until I had listened through it at least once to get a good first impression.

Here’s what I found:

Operation: Mindcrime

Queensrÿche

The Music: For years, people told me to listen to this thing and boy howdy does it rock. Rip-roaring prog sound full of high-pitched Geddy Lee screams (we’ll get to him later) with some epic guitar solos. Yes.

The Story: The story, however, I’m much less okay with. In fact it made me angry. Really angry. First, it sells itself as some kind of revolutionary prophetic-by-way-of-nothing-ever-really-changes cynicism, it quickly drops anything clever in favor of some great big thing about the dangers of heroin (put the spoon down, kids!) and some good old fashioned misogyny.

Because when it comes right down to it, after everything Sister Mary gives up for Nikki, up to and including her life, all he can think about is what she does for him. What she has to offer him. A woman who he’d like us to believe he cares quite a bit about dies rather tragically and all he can think of is ‘Who will clean up my room for me now?’ and ‘who’s gonna make my dinner?’. No thank you.

Rating: 4

2112

Rush

The Music: More of a “Very Long Concept Track With Multiple Movements Because We’re Pretentious Like That” than a full album, but any list that doesn’t mention this masterpiece is incomplete and there are over 2,112 reasons why. From epic guitar battles between screaming electric and melodious acoustic and Geddy Lee in his prime upper range, this one cannot be missed.

The Story: While yet another “rock music is banned, this is censorship, power to the people” story, this one’s probably the most well done. It features a protagonist of simple origins almost anyone can relate unwittingly trapped near-mythical Orphic tale where one can instantaneously tune and play a guitar without YouTube tutorials fighting against a religious oligarchy that controls the everything – and this one’s pagan-flavored for once!

There’s a beautiful Shakespearean-style soliloquy that weirdly gets interrupted by aliens but that’s okay because- DOES THAT SAY ‘AYN RAND’.

Okay. I have it on good authority that Neal Peart gets over this and really regrets the name drop but holy wow is that a thing to to overlook.

You’re lucky I love you, Rush.

Rating: 9

Detron 3030

Deltron 3030

The Music: Mentioned previously here on the November O’Malley blog, Deltron was Gorillaz before Gorillaz, more electronic and space-y than its trip-hoppy successor. Many of you may recognize some of these tracks from Tony Hawk games as well as a few other sports-oriented things, but unfortunately this cosmic compilation has been largely forgotten.

The Story: While the music may be cool and smooth, don’t let it fool you: the story is downright hilarious.

The tale of some everyman beaten down by The Man who won’t let music be free (notice a pattern yet?), the titular Deltron has to fight his way through his fascist, commercialized society and lead a revolution through a series of world-shattering rap battles, culminating in one last showdown with the Galactic Rhyme Federation Champion. Yeah. Tell me that isn’t the best thing you’ve ever heard.

Rating: 7

Kilroy Was Here

Styx

The Music: Remember when I said that a concept album can be the worst thing a band can do? This is one that literally killed the band that birthed it into the world. Gone were the “Renegades” and “Blue Collar Men”, we now do opera. With costumes. Racist costumes. (Don’t believe me? Look really close at those ‘roboto’ faces and then remember all the lines about Japan. YEAH.)

The Story: “Kilroy Was Here” was a mess. Named inexplicably for some WWII-era graffiti we’d already gotten over by the time the 80s rolled around, it stars Richard Orin Charles Kilroy which, you guessed it, spells R.O.C.K. I’m sure you can guess where this tale is going.

Nowhere.

It goes nowhere, they basically forget they had a plot going until maybe the end and then they reprise another song that had nothing to do with the story as the final track.

This album broke Styx’s streak of multi-platinum hits. They made a full-on short film for “Mr. Roboto”. They tried to make it a real theater… thing. A part of music history died for this album and it wasn’t even close to worth it. Kore wa koko de chikau kotobadesu, Mr. Roboto.

Rating: 1
(it’s only barely a concept album)

Those Who Didn’t Make the List:

“Seven and the Ragged Tiger” – Duran Duran
(Has some rad music videos but is only a concept album if – in the words of my mother, a lifelong Duranie – you consider “cocaine as a concept”)

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The Beatles
(Ditto, but with LSD among other things.)

“Hotel California” – The Eagles
(It’s really just that one song and while you can turn off the song any time you like, but it will never leave your brain)

“Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross” and “Charlemagne: The Omens of Death” – Christopher Lee
(Way better than any history book but you already know the ending)

What’s your favorite concept album? What do you plan on listening to next?
Share in the comments!

Ready for more amazing adventures and booty-kicking stories? Check THIS out!

inter_linked The Series is the fun, sarcastic story of a girl and her android.

Follow the adventures of Anny and WISR as they try to help every robot they can, while the hardest part of the journey is putting up with each other.

Absolutely free to read:
www.interlinkedtheseries.com

Songs About Space

While I may have compiled some instrumental science and space-themed faves, and discovered plenty more along the way, there’s something to be said for songs that sing about space too.

Here are a few of my favorites:

(please note: I’ve excluded songs with boring, earthly things like “sunlight” and “moonlight” but songs about being on or travelling to the moon or sun made the cut)

1. “Drops of Jupiter” – Train

The moment that slamming piano line comes blasting in, you know you’re about to be taken on a journey through the atmosphere, to make your way through the constellations, to dance along the light of day.
Although Train has more or less distanced themselves into the generic (and kind of annoying) flavor of pop, 90s and 00s kids will remember this hit.

2. “The End of All Time” – Stars of Track and Field

Like Train above, the way the piano mixes into this long-forgotten track brings a celestial vibe that’s hard to beat. Throw in an electric drum machine and the occasional electric guitar and you have a winner.
(and yes, I’m fully aware that I’m the only one who even remembers this one, but Pandora suggested it once upon a time and more people should listen, and also it was on Grey’s Anatomy once.)

3. “Angels on the Moon” – Thriving Ivory

I’m not entirely sure what “angels on the moon” means: maybe it’s an obscure drug reference, or perhaps it just means some really vivid daydreaming, either way this song has the soapy operatics of its contemporary My Chemical Romance with the voice and grit of The Smashing Pumpkins.
Thriving Ivory is one of those bands that tried oh-so-very-hard to make it, and they enjoyed some minor fame at the time, but they never quite hit the big time. Which is unfortunate, because in a sea of emo wanabe’s, at least they were unique.

4. “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” – Nadeah

Come on, everyone, you know the words to this 80s power ballad “IF YOU GET CAUGHT BETWEEN THE MOOON AND NEWWW YOOORK CIIIITTTYYY…!” Another song about New York and the Moon, this highly dramatic song comes from a goofy comedy . Considering there’s a few million miles between the two aforementioned locales this song is wonderfully silly.
The version I’ve included here is a cover from a compilation album called “Hollywood, Mon Amour” that tried to turn 80s cheese into viable, modern tracks. It most of the way works!

5. “Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen

Unlike the other dramatic ballads above, this upbeat, instant cheer number needs no introduction. There’s something about the way Freddie singing about being “a shooting star, leaping through the sky like a tiger defying the laws of gravity” that makes you just want to get up and take on the entire universe. This is especially true if the urban legend of him doing the entire track in one take after downing a fifth of vodka is real.

6. “Like a Star” – Corinne Bailey Rae

This stellar track has been a staple of chillaxing playlists since it hit the charts in 2002 and it’s hard to miss why. No matter how bad you may feel, just throw on this soothing song and all your worries will melt away.
Similar to Norah Jones’ jazz-pop-fusion blend here across the pond, Corinne’s music is like your favorite local Fair Trade single-source coffeehouse but you know… without dealing with people.

7. “Cosmic Love” – Florence + The Machine

Like most other Florence tracks, this is a big, big sound, for all that it starts out relatively unassuming. But don’t worry, Ms. Welch and the relentless pounding of a timpani break in quickly enough.
Again, as with other + The Machine productions, the music video is worth watching, if even just for the cool, surreality they seem to create just by existing.

8. “Major Tom” – Shiny Toy Guns

Out of all of the high-minded concepts and continued stories out of music, “Major Tom” is one of the strangest. Was he a literally an astronaut from the imagination of the Space Race? Was he a heroin junkie, with space being a metaphor? Was he the “Rocket Man” of Elton John fame? Who knows at this point.
Of all the songs in this strange, strange Expanded Universe of music, I decided to pick this one because it’s happier than Bowie’s original (it always makes me super crazy sad) and because I like it. So there. This cover always makes me really happy, too.

9. Champagne Supernova

I don’t care if it sounds like they’re saying “supernoVAR”, if one of the Gallaghers is a jerk (no, I don’t remember which), and the song makes zero sense when you think too hard about it, I still love this song.
Even cooler than that, NASA named a real-life space explosion after them!

10. “3030” – Deltron 3030

Called “Ice Cube’s Eccentric Cousin” (they really are related!), Del the Funky Homosapien put together this future-space-rap opera concept album with his fellow soon-to-be Gorillaz alums like Damon Alburn and Dan the Automator that landed on the soundrack of Tony Hawk Underground and was promptly forgotten.
Not that I’m much of an authority on such things, but man are these hooks fire. I’m not sure when we’re going to see such a genre-bending concept again, but until then I’m going to keep spinning this.

Obvious Things I Didn’t Include:

Any of your favorites not make the cut? Are you cursing me forever for disliking Muse?
Shout at me in the comments!

If you’re ready to take a journey to outer space, check out the brightest new star in science-fiction!

inter_linked The Series is the fun, sarcastic story of a girl and her android.

Follow the adventures of Anny and WISR as they try to help every robot they can, while the hardest part of the journey is putting up with each other.

Absolutely free to read:
www.interlinkedtheseries.com

COUNTDOWN: “In the House of Souls” Playlist

Only TWO MORE DAYS until IN THE HOUSE OF SOULS!

Do I even need to say it at this point? I love playlists. They’re so much fun to create and arrange and it means I can give each and every one of my beloved writers a mix tape without frantically recording that one song the second the radio DJ stops talking over the intro.

black cassette tape

Can you imagine the postage on these things?

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/1DFixLWuPkv3KT3TnV35m3

Even though Dunsmere and the Tuann are a whole world apart from the people of the North, they still share a lot of the same organic, guitar-and-sometimes-banjo driven music. This includes the stripped-down acoustic cover of “Fireflies” by Hearts and Colors and “Nothing Stays the Same” by Luke Sital-Singh. This is rounded out with a heavier Irish influence, with the classic Celtic Woman track “The Voice” and the stomping, fiddlin’ “Gold Rush”.

There may even be a few hints to the story in a couple of songs, so listen closely!

PLEASE NOTE: I don’t know if I have any younger readers out here listening, but a few songs have some big ol’ swearsies in ’em. So don’t repeat them.

Can’t get enough?

Pre-Order In the House of Souls
available November 1st!

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Review

(While I am more than committed to #KeepingTheSecrets, there are mild-to-moderate spoilers here for folks who are talented at squinting, connecting dots, or discovery charms. This is your warning.)

hpatcc_broadway_premiere_cast_photo_charlie_gray_copy_-_h_2017.jpg

As of this writing, I’ve just wrapped up a whopping near nine hours of theater, walked 30 blocks to avoid the midtown trains, spent an hour on the Subway reading reviews and TV Tropes pages, marched the 20 mins home and have immediately sat down to write this review.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play that doesn’t leave you when you leave the theater. While it doesn’t weigh as heavy as say, Les Miserables or leave you as emotionally shaken as the surprisingly graphic Anastasia, the magic is something alive and living and it takes root in those willing to believe.

That being said, any production, no matter how beautiful and charming and amazing can still have its flaws, and it’s no secret that Harry Potter has found more than its fair share of criticisms.

Here are my own feelings:

The Good Stuff

Music

1.-harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-london-2017-18-photo-credit-manuel-harlan.jpg

I expected to be enthralled by the staging and being thrown back into a magical world I’ve always loved so much. I didn’t expect to be so taken in by the music.

Composed by indie musician Imogen Heap, the score combines bubbly vocals with stirring strings, but the instruments never seem to bog down the modern sounds. The energetic beats were incredibly refreshing when I sat down expecting the same-old full pit orchestra with cinematic, but unremarkable swells.

I plan on looking into where to find the soundtrack immediately to have it underscore literally everything I do from now on.

Movement

While Harry Potter is a straight play – and one of the only shows on Broadway now with no singing and dancing, it features a huge amount of choreographed “movement”. Incredibly synchronized with sound queues, beat-for-beat and step-for-step with the music, the movements are not only very cool-looking, but also highly metaphorical. Certain steps represent boarding a train, gathering for class, learning to control magic, or travels in time and space.

Movement makes up for a relatively minimalist set but also ensures the show is full of action and momentum.

There’s also a super-cool dance the bad guys do. It’s just wonderful to behold.

Character

harry-potter-cursed-child-1.jpg

Here’s the thing about Harry Potter. He’s the teenage protagonist in a book intended for 10-to-16-year-olds and while it’s fun to watch him wangst through a PTSD meltdown, he’s the rebellious hero of the plucky resistaince who you know will win out in the end.

You don’t see him as a mature human with real grown-up depth. You don’t see him as vulnurable, deal with real adult fears, or face the prospects of perhaps failing at being a father. And that is a beautiful thing to see unfold onstage, especially when it’s as wonderfully acted as this current cast played it.

Stage Magic

Related image

I fully admit that sitting down for this show, it’s 60-70% of what I was there for. The Cool Stuff.

There’s fire shooting out of wands, instantaneous on-stage quick-changes, trap-door affects, transformations, flying wirework performances, moving staircase montages, spinning clocks, and a supercool blacklight-induced reveal that I won’t spoil here. And more.

If you’ve got even a passing interest in stagecraft, slight-of-hand, or practical effects, this show is a spectacular.

The Not-So-Good Stuff

(Much more spoilery spoilers abound here. If you’re really into secret-keeping, skip this section)

Central Conflict

Image result for harry potter and the cursed child albus and scorpius

There’s no easy way to put this. The entire central conflict revolves around the fact that the boys want to save Cedric Diggory’s life (remember him?) but if they cause him to fail the Triwizard Tournament, he will delve so deep into bitterness and self-pity, the kid will become a Death Eater and usher in a new holocaust at the hands of the Maginazis.

Yeah. Cedric Diggory who took his Quidditch losses in stride. Cedric Diggory who offered Harry help with his own Triwizard challenges even if it meant the possibility of setting himself back. Cedric Diggory who had caring and supportive parents who loved him to the ends of the earth and grieved over his death until their own final breaths. Cedric Diggory.

You know what would have made a better plot? Saving someone who actually mattered to Harry and his children. Sirius Black, one of the only adults in Harry’s life who didn’t see him as a means to an end or as some mythological hero and who Albus could look up to as the heavy metal flying motorcycle rebel hero he never knew. Remus Lupin who didn’t treat Harry as an extension of his father, who left behind his own orphan who could easily come back with his own angsty blame against the Potters. And Lupin so deserves a more accurate representation. (I refuse to be sorry for this, David Thewlis always seemed like he had little understanding or interest in his own character).

RemusLupin_WB_F6_RemusLupinStandingWithWand_Promo_080615_Port

Literally anything but turning sweet, normal Cedric Diggory into some evil cape-twirling racist.

Themes and Resolution Dissonance

1920HarryPotter-ManuelHarlan.jpg

One central theme running through The Cursed Child is that ones parents do not necessarily determine their destiny and that it’s okay to seek love, care, and validation if it’s done in a healthy way.

This is completely dropped when it comes to our main villain.

This antagonist, revealed very late in the show, is another orphan-of-war who was brought up, much like Harry himself, in less than pleasant circumstances without much by way of loving care. While Harry has pity and affection piled on him despite his numerous mistakes that nearly and actually resulted in the deaths of others, our heroes refuse to even consider the perspective of the villain.

They made it clear that all they sought was love, validation, and appreciation from their parents, and have gone about finding it by any means necessary. They felt the need to be “evil” in order to achieve these goals that the heroes themselves work to because they weren’t given the same support or options.

Not only that, but the heroes are practically hand-delivered a golden opportunity to reverse the ravages of time and bring this neglected person into a more healthy home, but instead the “good guys” merely fling them off-stage with the promise of locking them away in the cold, lonely villain prison where they’d live out the remainder of their days under the threat of their souls being forcibly sucked out.

Minor GripesImage result for harry potter and the cursed child

  • Some actors seemed a little too keen on acting exactly like the characters in the movies did. McGonnagal and Hagrid in particular seemed to be trying a little too hard.
  • Hagrid also had a very strange moment after something extremely tragic where he kinda blunders in like a big pile of jolly joy where canonically he was absolutely distraught. It made him seem a bit flat.
  • Ron, too, got flattened to little more than a joke character and comic relief, the writers sort of missed the point of him.
  • If two of the characters were male and female, they would have been each other’s love interests with absolutely zero changes to the script, but because they are the same gender, they had to have an extra heterosexual love interest shoehorned in.
  • Some strange religious imagery where there never was any before in the world of Harry Potter. Not that I have any particular problem with it myself, it just seemed a little out of place.
  • Time travel plots.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a good show. It was a magical, exciting ride, and while long, certainly worth the time. While it had its issues, returning to the world of Harry Potter was a journey I’ll never forget.

 

Soundtracks to Write Sci-Fi To

image courtesy of Bejeweled 2

Science-Fiction may not be what I’m writing professionally at the moment, but it’s one of my very favorite genres of reading, writing, and movies.

After putting together my list of favorite fantasy soundtracks, a good friend of mine mentioned how hard it is to find science-y songs that aren’t too operatic and pack a good, action-y punch.

So while resisting the urge to throw in some more Skyrim (it’s set on a different planet! They have two moons! One of the games is on a space station!) I came up with these:

Megaman ZX

“Black Burn” and “Green Grass Gradation”

Oft-forgotten entries in the Megaman video game series, ZX and ZX Advent definitely deserve more spotlight for their music alone.
“Area O – Black Burn” is dark and intense with a hard-hitting beat while “Area A – Green Grass Gradation” is a bright and cheery bit of electronica that still somehow gives an organic feel.

Daft Punk

“Derezzed” and “End of Line” from the TRON: Legacy soundtrack

Can you ever go wrong with Daft Punk? This French duo put together an awe-inspiring score for this sequel to a sci-fi classic that almost outshone the mind-blowing visuals.
“End of Line” is a brilliant mixture of the good old-fashioned synthesizer and classic video game sound effects while “Derezzed” was given a wicked music video with laser robot horse jousting. What more could you want out of life?

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

“Electrodrome”

Mario Kart is known for having some of the best atmospheric music in video games, from dark and foreboding lava castles and haunted houses to bouncy mushroom farms, busy highways, and of course, neon electric anti-gravity superdomes.
“Electrodrome” is an upbeat and enthusiastic track that will put you in the perfect mood to launch blue shells at friends and enemies.

Cyberpunk 2077

“Hyper”

When the one song of the only release trailer is already a mega-hit, you know an upcoming game is going to be epic.
Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in this year’s E3 conference with the track “Hyper”, full of intense, thumping synth beats that bring you back to the days of Vangelis and Depeche Mode.

Transistor

“We All Become”

Music from Supergiant Games has already been mentioned in a previous post and for good reason – Darren Korb always puts together amazing tracks that support deep and beautiful worlds.
Transistor is their second game which blends vintage art nouveau and glossy futures. While the instrumental version is featured here for less distracting play, Ashley Barrett once again lends her soaring voice to the version featured prominently in the trailer and can be found here.

Jet Set Radio Future

“Concept of Love” and “Shape Da Future”

 

Another forgotten franchise, Jet Set Radio and its sequel Jet Set Radio Future are set in a world of totalitarian governments, pirate radio stations, and rebel roller-skaters where magic vinyl records can summon demons.
The soundtrack of Future is most notable in its original trip-hoppy electric beats and vocal collages the likes of which Tony Hawk could only dream. It also features a personal favorite, the goofy “Aisle 10”, a vocal song about falling in love with a grocery store clerk.

Bejeweled 2

“Silent Conquest”

Released in 2004, this oldie-but-goodie of an addicting video game featured epic visuals that became computer wallpaper mainstays for a decade and and an even more epic soundtrack.
While the entire score is worth listening to – award-winning composer Peter Hajba never disappoints – “Silent Conquest” is the crown jewel of the list, so to speak. Action-packed beats and melodic turns motivate and inspire in this track.

You can listen to the whole playlist here:

What are your favorite sci-fi soundtracks? Any I missed?
Let me know in the comments!

See Also:

The Characters of Faehunter: Character Playlists
Soundtracks to Write Fantasy To

The Characters of Faehunter: Character Playlists

Please note that I am not associated with Spotify in any way, nor the bands mentioned. I was not paid to feature this music, I was not asked to include any songs, they’re just things I liked.

Music can be a powerful tool when it comes to writing, it can instantly whisk you away to a different time, different place, and completely transform your mood.

For my characters in Faehunter, I’ve composed playlists of 10 songs each that really convey their mood and personality. Perhaps when they finally invent the first generation iPod Shuffles in Twinefold (anyone else remember those things?) this is what they would listen to.

Mara

Action-packed and pumping hard rock with crunchy guitar notes and relentless rhythm dominate Mara’s playlist.

Pop-punk, riot grrrl, and even electric synth-driven songs make up this playlist composed mostly of female-lead music.

Deaglan

Deaglan’s music is dark and driven, full of late 90s and early 00s alt-rock, songs about pain and mistakes, and moving forward.

“The Moments In Between” by The Reign of Kindo in particular stands out as Deaglan’s aesthetic of organic and electric, anger and sorrow.

Finnian

Frat boy rock like Sum 41 and The Offspring sit between classic Michael Jackson and Foo Fighters to give a playlist ready for a scrap.

Fast beats and memorable guitar licks rip and ride with the sad and slow “Big Empty” by Stone Temple Pilots on top dedicated to his beloved sister whose ‘dizzy head is concious laden’.

Twinefold

More organic sounds, acoustic guitars, and “traditional” instruments make up the bulk of this playlist, rather fitting for a city twined in the trees and overgrown green.

Indie and hipster mainstays fill out the list with dark and sometimes sweet songs, including a personal favorite, “From the Morning” by Nick Drake.

Air and Darkness

Dark and operatic, haunting and dramatic, the playlist of the Court of Air and Darkness is full of powerful belters and orchestral swells.

Songs about trickery and seduction  pull together this rhapsodic playlist.

See Also:

The Characters of Faehunter: Character Handwriting
Soundtracks to Write Fantasy To
Characters

Pink Moon on the Rise

The Pink Moon – when not an amusing euphemism – is the full moon in the month of March, this year falling on the 31st. It is also the moon that sets the date for Easter for those who celebrate.

On top of all of that, it is the title of one of my very favorite albums of all time with one of the strangest covers.

220px-NickDrakePinkMoon

Seriously, what is going on here.

Much of Faehunter was written while listening to this quick half-hour length beauty, when it wasn’t epic soundtracks or Spotify’s Stomp and Holler playlist.

One man, one guitar, the occasional piano, and haunting lyrics make “Pink Moon” the real, raw thing. Nick Drake‘s voice carries the kind of vulnerable innocence of a confessional while his complex guitar work is nothing short of a masterpiece.

A popular urban legend (which has been since debunked) states that the famously shy and reclusive musician dropped off the final version tape at the desk of the recording studio without a word and walked away.

Nick Drake once said, “If my music did anything to help anyone, it would be worth it.”

I certainly think it has.

This one’s for you, Nick.

See Also:

Soundtracks to Write Fantasy To
What to do With A Writer’s Block

Soundtracks to Write Fantasy To

Soundtracks are wonderful to use when creating art because they are specifically made to keep your attention and enhance something else without being intrusive.

Sure, you may have a really cool playlist for your setting, character, or setting-as-character loaded with your favorite songs, but sometimes they can be a little overwhelming or distracting. They were meant to be consumed by themselves and don’t make for good background.

I love a good soundtrack, I feel like it really brings out the flavor of my muse and really makes me feel energized and ready to get going.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

This one has a special place in my heart as it was my first Elder Scrolls game and introduced me to an amazing and beautiful world.

Huge, sweeping orchestral movements, action-packed tracks peppered with pounding percussion, and a barbarian choir cheer you on as you take down your own personal dragons. (Mine is called Pelleoblaan, dragon language for writer’s block.)

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Jeremy Soule is a genius no matter what he’s making and nobody can tell me any different.

Unlike Skyrim’s soundtrack, Oblivion features more calm and soothing melodies and warmer string music that lends itself to the wide-open plains and rolling hills of Cyrodiil. The cave exploration music is a bit bland but easily gives the listener shivers, like a goblin or spider will rear its ugly head at any moment.

Bastion

Called “Frontier Trip-Hop”, Bastion‘s soundtrack is utterly unique, combining pounding beats, bluesy strings, and rootsy melody into something somehow completely cohesive.

Sprinkled throughout are songs that feature vocals by Ashley Lynn Barrett and the game’s narrator Logan Cunningham. They both feature heavily in the next game by the same developer, Transistor which also has a fantastic soundtrack with a retro sci-fi vibe.

The Music of BrunuhVille

Huge, cinematic sounds soar from one man’s synthesizer in the music of the internet musician BrunuhVille.

Taking notes from epic fantasy soundtracks, including Game of Thrones, Skyrim, and Lord of the Rings as well as the pipes of traditional Celtic and Asian music, there is nothing quite like the music of BrunuhVille.

Adrian von Ziegler

In a similar vein to BrunuhVille, Adrian von Ziegler is famed for his huge, sweeping Celtic and Fantasy-themed pieces.

He often compiles them into hours-long videos for long and inspiring sessions – great for NaNoWriMo meetings, long word sprints, or Shut Up and Write sessions.

See Also:

New Year, New Notebook
What to do With A Writer’s Block
The World of Faehunter: Twinefold
The World of Faehunter: The Court of Air and Darkness