New Releases: Vandal Moon, ULTRA SUNN and Male Tears

This summer, many bands I listen to have been hard at work putting out new releases. Here are my thoughts on three new singles by three great artists.

Vandal Moon

Vandal Moon’s newest single, “Heroine Dancer,” came out on June 30. The six-minute track seems handcrafted for the dance floor.

Cover for “Heroine Dancer” by Vandal Moon

With weeping synths, industrial-style percussion and a sensual beat that thrums throughout, “Heroine Dancer” compels the listener to dance themselves.

A simple song about dancing and love, “Heroine Dancer” is something to get lost in.

Active since 2014, Vandal Moon describes themselves as “propagating our sound through the use of synthesizers, guitars, chant, tambourines, drum machines, vodka and psychedelics.”

While I don’t see “Heroine Dancer” as psychedelic or particularly enigmatic, it’s certainly a fun song.


The newest track by ULTRA SUNN, “Broken Monsters,” also came out on June 30.

The track certainly stays true to ULTRA SUNN’s signature style. With cold rhythms and echoing vocals, “Broken Monsters” is both danceable and sensual.

Cover for “Broken Monsters” by ULTRA SUNN

A contemporary EBM/coldwave duo from Belgium, ULTRA SUNN spearheaded their career with the release of the single “Night is Mine” in 2019. Since, they’ve released several singles and EPs.

While I won’t say “Broken Monsters” is their best work, as I prefer their second most recent release, “Kill Your Idols,” the track definitely succeeds in capturing the essence of ULTRA SUNN. I hope that as their career progresses, the duo experiment with other musical substyles.

Male Tears

Songs by Male Tears go one of two ways for me. Either I love them instantly, or they become something of an acquired taste.

“sad boy, paint my nails,” released July 7, appears to be the latter.

Self-described as a “California synth duo,” Male Tears started their career in 2021 with their first self-titled album. Since, they’ve made waves in the darkwave scene with their uniquely camp style.

While I like the sweet melancholy of the song’s melody, I find that the vocals straddle a thin line between lo-fi and simply poorly executed.

Cover for “Sad Boy, Paint My Nails” by Male Tears

Songs by Male Tears typically feature stronger vocals. “sad boy, paint my nails” attempts to capture something more plaintive, which I appreciate in essence but find myself struggling to connect to.

While part of me likes the song, I’d probably skip it if it came up on my streaming feed. I anticipate that in the fall, which tends to turn my tastes towards the morose, I’ll have a greater appreciation for this track. However, right now I definitely see it as one of the band’s lesser releases.


Soundtrack Spotlight: Coffee Talk

“Coffee Talk” is a game released in 2020 that follows a visual novel format and tells a story of various customers that visit a late-night coffee shop in a Pacific northwest city populated by humans and a variety of fantasy races, including succubi, vampires, and elves.

The game requires the player to click through dialogue, with our playable chararcter being the shop barista, meaning you make characters drinks as you play.

Like any good coffee shop, your coffee shop has a great rotation of chill lofi hip-hop beats to carry you through late-night conversations with whoever may be visiting that night. The soundtrack was fully originally composed by Andrew Jeremy, the music director of Toge Productions, which is the studio that made “Coffee Talk.”

Although the game is fun and remains one of my favorite games, its soundtrack is truly the best part of the game. I can normally study with music on, but sometimes music with lyrics will make it harder to focus. The “Coffee Talk” soundtrack is my solution to finding instrumental music that does not leave me bored or annoyed.

The game has a 27-track album that only features one song that doesn’t fit in a chillhop category, that being “Gala Gila” (this song is more upbeat to match a climactic moment in the story). Every other song is calming and soothing in a way that makes me want to settle down in a cafe and write or draw with a latte nearby.

Some of my favorite tracks are as follows:

  • “Moon Bright” — this song takes the tune of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and makes a lofi hip-hop beat with it.
  • “Cup of Sweetness” uses a crackly background noise to add some coziness to this already smooth song that uses a cool array of snares.
  • “Calming Drizzle” is dreamy and groovy; it represents the soundtrack as a whole very well.

I haven’t played it yet, but “Coffee Talk 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly” was released in April, and features another full-length soundtrack by Andrew Jeremy that I’m very excited to dig into and add to my study rotation.

— bel$


A DJ’s Process: How Setlists are Made

Meeting a WKNC DJ can be intimidating. Maybe you’re overcome by our cool presence, stumbling over words and trying to pretend you know what shoegaze means. You’re too nervous to ask us about how we throw together our sets, so you never learn and resolve to assume that the art of crafting a DJ set is beyond you.

This is a common experience, and I’m here to demystify the DJ setmaking process. Note that not all DJs are the same, and this process varies amongst us.

Collection Phase

I play a once-weekly show on HD-1, so every week I’ve got to compile between 15 to 20 songs to put on air. To collect my tracks, I make a playlist after each show to put each new song I’ve liked from the week in one place for my next show.

I’m the sort of person who tends to play just a few songs over and over until they get old and then move on, so sometimes I don’t come up with 15 songs. If this is the case, I’ll scour my old playlists to fill in the cracks.

Occasionally, I’ll have more songs than I need for a set. Because my show is one hour long, I try to have songs that total to a runtime between 53 and 56 minutes. This allows time for voice breaks, and with sets that have songs I’d like to talk about more than the average track, I’ll aim for the lower end of the 53 to 56 minute range.

Proofing Phase

At WKNC, we have a few rules that always need to be followed. One of these rules is that there are certain words we cannot use on air. As such, we’ve got to comb through every lyric of every song we’d like to play on air to make sure our set is squeaky clean.

Of course, this is made much easier with lyric-sharing sites like Genius. However, with songs that don’t have lyrics publicly posted, a thorough listen of the song to be sure of its cleanliness is necessary.

You might be thinking, “Why don’t you just make sure you don’t play any songs with the ‘E’ on them?”, referring to the ‘explicit’ label that many songs have on streaming services. Because we not only follow the FCC standards for Obscene, Indecent and Profane Broadcasts but also our own station standards, there’s no guarantee that an artist has appropriately marked a song as explicit that is qualified as such for our purposes.

If there’s a song you want to play that has explicit lyrics, you have the option to find a clean version of the song or clean it yourself using an audio-editing software.

Set Design

Once all of my songs have been chosen and appropriately cleaned if necessary, I order my playlist to make the set flow. I tend to do a voice break every three songs, so I will typically put 3 similar songs in a block, have a voice break, then repeat. Some DJs may have a voice break between every song or none at all.

A lot of times, I’ll have my set move from slow to fast, soft to heavy, etc. based on the tracks I’m working with. So, it’s attention to the individual songs in their blocks of three, but also attention to how each of those blocks flow and interact with each other.

Okay– at this point, we’ve got our songs, they’re clean and ordered, and we’re nearing the final steps of the DJ’s pre-show process.

At this stage I will occasionally design a poster for my show to promote it and always upload my tracks into Spinitron so that folks can see what they’re listening to during my set.

I’ve made probably over a hundred sets for radio shows before and I find the process to be rather soothing– cultivating a setlist requires more attention be given to the music I listen to than normal casual listening might.

Does this sound interesting to you? Are you dying to know what the prohibited words of radio are? Fear not, there are Fall 2023 interest meetings for students interested in joining WKNC as a DJ or other staff: Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Thursday, Aug. 24 from 6-7 p.m. in 201 Witherspoon.

— bel$


Soundtrack Spotlight: “Whip It” (2009)

There are few movies that hold as much nostalgia for me as the Drew Barrymore-directed “Whip It,” released in 2009. I grew up watching roller derby in my hometown and, because “Whip It” was the only movie I’d ever seen about roller derby, it quickly became a favorite.

The movie itself emanates 2000s alternative coolness. Elliot Page plays a teenager who attempts to find a way out of her small Texas hometown through joining a roller derby team. In the same way that “Juno” feels eternally 2007, “Whip It” feels eternally 2009.

When I got my first iPod, I downloaded the soundtrack to the movie. It left an imprint on me that I think likely contributes to my interest in alternative music today.

The movie utilizes a lot of high-tempo rock. The Ramones’ “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” featured in the film, is arguably the first thing that led me towards punk rock. Throughout the story, Page’s character Bliss is faced with choosing between two worlds– that of her mother, which is full of pageants and custom gowns, and that of her roller derby dreams, filled with blue hair, scraped knees and beer.

“Pot Kettle Black” by Tilly and The Wall matches the high-tempo theme and adds in a new theme of chanting-shouting-screaming that the rest of the soundtrack showcases as well, with “Boys Wanna Be Her” by Peaches keeping it up. Lyrics from Peaches’ song repeat “The boys wanna be her / The girls wanna be her,” undoubtedly adding to how badly I wanted to be Bliss Cavendar.

The soundtrack features a lot of then-current indie rock, but also has a few classics such as 38 Special’s “Caught Up In You” and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. At a point in the story where Bliss begins to date a new love interest, the music gets a bit softer, with tracks like “Learningalilgivinanlovin” by Gotye (pre-Somebody That I Used to Know!).

The movie itself is a bit of a mess– weird pacing, plot holes and questionable aspects of its storyline keeps it from standing up to much criticism– but it’s incredibly loveable, and its soundtrack is equally sentimental.

— bel$

Concert Preview Miscellaneous

K-Pop Bash at Ruby Deluxe

I’ll be the first to admit I had a K-Pop phase– my “kpoop” playlist remains a staple of my Spotify profile even though I’m no longer trading photocards of my favorite idols. K-Pop is ever-growing and the fanbase of the many groups that make up the genre is only getting bigger.

There’s a lot of opportunities for K-Pop fans to interact with music and communities online, but due to the global reach of many K-Pop groups, opportunities to see favorite artists are few and far between and are usually only found in big cities with expensive, nosebleed-seat tickets.

Citizens of Raleigh– fear not! K-Pop is coming to Ruby Deluxe in the form of a K-Pop Bash being put on by local DJ and music producer Rusty later this month. I asked Rusty a few questions about his event to get some information about what to expect for this first-of-its-kind event.

What is the K-Pop Bash?

“K-Pop Bash is a brand new monthly event that I’m hoping to expand in North Carolina. Our aim is to bring a K-pop filled night to fans while providing a safe space while dancing their favorite music, and meeting new people.”

Who are some of the artists you’ll be playing?

“A few of the artists we’re going to play are groups like BTS, Blackpink, Seventeen, NewJeans, TXT, NCT 127 and Twice. Honestly, there’s so many groups we’re hoping to play, I hope people come and find new songs and groups to enjoy. I personally enjoy finding hidden gems within the genre.”

Will this be a regular/monthly event?

“The aim is to make this a monthly event, so I’ve been working on getting an event booked for each month. July 20th is our first and we have another one in August, which we’ll announce a bit later.” 

What are you most excited about for the Bash?

“The thing I’m most excited for is seeing how this event can grow. These kinds of events really only happen because of community and so far I’ve been amazed out how excited everyone is for this kind of event.”

The K-Pop Bash will take place at Ruby Deluxe in Raleigh, July 20 at 10 p.m. More information about the event can be found at this link. If you’ve wanted to have a BTS dance party somewhere other than your own bedroom, now’s a great chance.



On the Pinegrove Shuffle

I will begin this by saying I do not use TikTok. Proud disclaimer. However, because I’ve not been able to avoid contact with the internet in its totality, I’ve become aware of the Pinegrove Shuffle– a dance trend to a song from Pinegrove that’s been going around the video-sharing app.

Pinegrove is a band whose work I’ve adored for years, but some of that admiration was marred when Evan Stephens Hall– the group’s frontman– was accused of sexual coercion in 2017. The band took a year to refrain from releasing any music, and Hall took time to work on himself, stating that he’d begun therapy in the Facebook post in which this was all revealed.

Since then, it seems Pinegrove and Hall have been mostly accepted back into the spot they once had in the music scene. This acceptance has been solidified by the burst of the band’s alt-country music regaining public attention in the TikTok trend.

The Pinegrove Shuffle itself is a mix between the hardcore two-step and something else, resembling a bird flailing. Its movement suggests a melancholy feeling that matches the song– “Need 2,” well.

After the TikTok trend went viral, the band re-released “Need 2,” this time with a slow version, a fast version, and a hyperspeed version. The song hasn’t been reproduced at all but has instead just had its speed altered in the new releases.

Robin Murray of Clash Music describes Pinegrove’s re-ascent into the public spotlight “incredibly, bizarrely unlikely,” given their history. I could not agree more.

Even when an artist has done their time in therapy or has completed the proper reparations after an incident such as the one Hall was a part of, it feels strange to have them resurface at such a public level, especially with Pinegrove in particular. Historically, they’ve been adored, and since Hall’s accusation most have been unsure how to feel about the group.

It seems the dance trend has brought them back to a normal, inoffensive position that old fans and listeners were not exactly prepared for. I can’t say the trend is wrong or shouldn’t be popularized, but I can’t say I adore the booming popularity of a band with a sticky history either. It’s tough territory. In the meantime, I’m still enjoying the sped-up versions of “Need 2.”


Queer Icons: A Discussion

I’ve been thinking a lot about what brings people to the status of being “queer icons”. Many of these people aren’t queer themselves, yet they are subject of adoration by many queer fans. And, there’s so many people who are queer themselves and quite popular who never seem to receive this distinction. My knowledge in this matter is primarily focused on musicians, so I’ll keep this discussion limited to that realm.

Allies and Icons

Kate Bush is a good example of someone who isn’t queer herself, but her music resonates with those fans. “Running Up That Hill” has been interpreted by many as a trans allegory, where God swaps the places of the narrator with her male lover. “Kashka from Baghdad” laments the situation of a gay man who “lives in sin” in a relationship with another man.

Music video for “Kashka From Baghdad” by Kate Bush

As far as icons who are queer themselves go, Lady Gaga has certainly made her mark. She not only has music directly supporting queer people, but has contributed much to queer activism. Both artists pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to discuss in mainstream pop culture for their time. Keep in mind, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga was released four years before even the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized gay marriage.

A Would-Be Icon

So why does someone like Kurt Cobain, who similarly supported queer people during his time with Nirvana, not have the same level of recognition as a queer icon as others? Cobain’s one interview during the release and promotion of Nirvana’s Insecticide was with The Advocate magazine which promoted “Gay and Lesbian” issues. He called himself “gay in spirit” and “probably could be bisexual”. He performed with Nirvana at a benefit concert in Oregon to oppose an anti-gay ballot measure being proposed in the state.

If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the f— alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records

Liner notes for Nirvana’s “Incesticide”

Although Cobain was certainly popular enough to be known by queer fans, he’s largely left out of these kinds of conversations. I believe this may be due to the nature of Nirvana’s music. Most queer icons in music, at least in the 20th century, are women or they are men who write poppier songs and ballads. This trend is largely reflective of the perception of gay men and lesbians by themselves and wider society at the time. Gay men were stereotypically effeminate and lesbians were stereotypically butch (and any other queer people were ignored).

Even though Cobain often acted in line with these stereotypes, both in his private life and on-stage, his music was much more aggressive than the music of most other queer icons of the time. As such, there may have been a reluctance among the queer community in the 90s to adopt Cobain’s music as theirs because it broke from those stereotypes.

Concluding Thoughts

While popularity and queer subject matter may be important in making someone a queer icon, those don’t seem to be the only criteria, at least for older musicians. Actually this trend still exists to some extent today too. Rarely, if ever, are aggressive rock or hip-hop artists (many of whom are queer) seen as icons, even if they discuss the matter in their music.

Miscellaneous Playlists

How to: Mental Health

Some days, things are just going bad. Sometimes, we know the root of that cause, sometimes we just feel unlucky. Sometimes, there hasn’t even been anything bad that’s happened, we just feel awful.

In the moment, it can be near impossible to ignore the emotional reality that you’re experiencing. It’s difficult to fix problems that do exist and matter when you’re having a rough time.

I’m putting this collection of tips out there for those days when things just seem to be going badly. It’s difficult to know when to seek help, or even if you need help, but it is easy to know that this might not be the greatest of days.

A lot of this article was inspired by Sinope’s Tumblr post, “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up.”

Things you can do right now

Eating healthy and drinking water regularly are both extremely helpful for your mental health. Even if the food you’re eating isn’t perfectly “healthy”, having balanced meals with carbs, fats, and proteins in some capacity can help a lot. If you don’t feel like you can prepare a meal, eat some mixed nuts with whatever bread products you have access to. Maybe eat a banana or some grapes with it.

On that note, buying foods that can be prepared in bulk ahead of time can be quite helpful in alleviating the stress of making a meal in the moment. Additionally, try to at least drink a water bottle’s worth of water a day. Fill a reusable water from the tap or a Brita filter if you have it, or just grab a plastic water bottle.

Take a shower if you’re at home. Don’t worry about how long you’re in there or how hot the water is, just keep the temperature comfortable and get clean.

Likewise, dress into some clean clothes if you haven’t gotten dressed today. It gets you out of the tired mindset that being in pajamas may put you in, giving you more energy during the day.

Things you can do with and without people

If you haven’t really interacted with people, especially friends or family yet today, try to meet up with them, even if it’s just for an hour or two. If you can’t meet in person, text or call them. Don’t worry about getting work done during this time. Ask for a hug from friends or family if you’re comfortable. This doesn’t necessarily apply if those people are part of the reason you’re not doing that great.

If you’ve spent large chunks of the day around people, even friends or family, take some alone time. Play around with hobbies, whether it be knitting, playing video games, or programming. Sit down with a show or a movie.

Hell, watch Tiktok or Youtube to unwind for a bit, though try to limit these to an hour or so.

Things you can do to be active

Exercise also helps your mental health greatly. People who do a lot of intellectual or emotional labor may find exercise especially helpful. If you have access to a gym, take your pick of what activity you want to do, whether it be strength exercises, swimming, or walking/running on a treadmill.

Personally, I’ve found lifting weights to relieve my mind of stress, since all of my focus is on physical exertion.

Going outside in any capacity is probably the most helpful piece of advice I could possibly give here. Whether you go on a walk, sit on a bench for a while, or run around for a bit, these all tend to be more beneficial to your mental health than staying inside. If you have access, go to a local trail through the woods.

I cannot stress enough how rejuvenating a nature walk like this can be. Green spaces more generally are also relaxing compared to dense urban environments.

How music can help

Music tends to be prevalent through all parts of my life. I use it to highlight pleasant moments and relieve negative moments. There’s a number of different types of music that I tend to gravitate towards when I’m struggling with a variety of things, and I want to share those here in the hopes that they help others.

Healing – In Love With a Ghost

Music video for “Healing” by In Love With a Ghost

In Love With a Ghost is probably my most played artist when I’m having a bad day. Their lo-fi, bedroom pop sound allows listeners to let their thoughts drift away as they listen. Their music is perfect for those times when you might not know exactly why you’re sad or upset, just that you are.

Pills & Good Advice – Left at London

Lyric video for “Pills & Good Advice” by Left at London

On the contrary, sometimes I just need to vent my emotions until I’m satisfied. When I feel wronged, especially by someone I know well, I tend to come back to Left at London’s music. Her album “t.i.a.p.f.y.h” is phenomenal for giving me something to sing my heart out to in the car. Songs like “Pills & Good Advice” give me the perfect opportunity to feel like I have closure over some bad event that’s already finished.

Meant to Be – SAFFRA

Official audio for “Meant to Be” by SAFFRA

Other times, the most helpful music is that which will get me back into the swing of things. “Meant to Be” is the debut single from SAFFRA, and it rides the line between positive energy and low-key relaxation perfectly. Its long solos in the middle of the song provide a wonderful chance to just close your eyes, sit back, and let the music wash over you. I tend to use this (and songs like it) after artists like Left at London to get myself back into the swing of things.

LAW OF AVERAGES – Vince Staples

Music video for “LAW OF AVERAGES” by Vince Staples

Sometimes, all I need from music is to have a soft, somewhat depressing tone to stew in my emotions for a while. Unlike Left at London’s invigorating, aggressive attitude, Vince Staples sounds more low-key, as if he’s having a serious, emotional conversation with listeners. This sentiment is especially true on his last two albums: “RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART” and “Vince Staples”. I especially recommend his music if you’ve had a rough day at work and you’re driving home.


Omori: Soundtrack Review

Omori is an astounding visual and listening experience. Released in 2020 after over six years of development, this sweet and dark role-playing video game quickly won the hearts of players.

The game follows the story of a young boy named Sunny and his dreamworld counterpart Omori. Throughout the game it reveals childhood memories between him and his friends, and the dark histories that lead them to the current day.

This game presents its story with elegance and care with a stunning and diverse soundtrack to match.

Game Overview and Themes

The game opens up in the world of whitespace– the divide between Sunny and Omori’s worlds. Blank and isolated, whitespace gives the player a moment of reflection and pause before entering and reentering the story.

The player is then introduced to the world of Omori. Which is bright, colorful and surrounded by loving friends and cute enemies. Throughout this side of the game, Omori faces his greatest fears with his friends by his side.

Omori’s soundtrack is light, airy and playful. It really leans into childhood nostalgia and curiosity.

Meanwhile Sunny’s world is grim, lonely, and lost. In the real world the divide between his friends is great. This side of the game is spent trying to mend the connections between him and his friends before Sunny moves away from his childhood home in three days.

Sunny’s soundtrack is mundane and grey. Both the sound and graphic design in this world captures emotions of uncertainty, fear, and regret unlike any other content I have experienced.

Went growing up, there is often times a wish to go back to the simpler days of childhood. Omori is a game that captures this unspoken emotion beautifully.

The juxtaposition between Sunny in the current world and Omori in a childhood state is the foundation of the game– the soundtrack follows suit with explorative, dynamic contrast.

A Deep Dive into the Soundtrack

Starting off with the opening track “White Space”, this is a simple, clean start to the experience. It gives no clues to the musical themes to come. It takes on a very classic 8-bit videogame sound. I think this track is a great, simple start to such a complex web of themes and experiences in Omori.

Dreamworld Soundtrack

Looking at some of the tracks in Omori’s dream world, some of my favorites include “By Your Side.”, “Three Bar Logos” and “Chaos Assembly”.

“By Your Side.” is a sweet, delicate tune played when interacting with Omori’s sister Mari. Without flare or complexity, this song captures emotions of comfort and security.

It is easy to hear and see how much detail and care went into the production of this game. Each track has a purpose and emotion tied to it. The soundtrack holds such a complex variety of feelings in relatively simple sounds.

Another great example of this is “Three Bar Logos”. This one is played in special combat sequences and really captures feelings of fun and teamwork.

Most of the combat in the game is done in a team of four: Omori and his three friends Hero, Aubrey and Kel.

The player has to utilized each of their unique abilities to juggle between three emotion types: happy, sad and angry. I think all of the combat tracks do a great job of making combat interesting and support the theme of teamwork immensely.

“Chaos Assembly” is another great example of this. It ties in themes of upbeat teamwork with the underlying fear of combat. It pulls background from some of the darker tracks in the album that I will discuss more below.

Real World Soundtrack

Taking a look at some of the tracks in Sunny’s Realm, some of my distinct favorites are “Where We Used to Play”, “I Prefer My Pizza 90% Grease” and “Just Leave Me Alone”.

I am simply in love with “Where We Used to Play”. This track plays when walking around the hometown and childhood park of Sunny.

Although this track is just simple piano and delicate recorder, I think it is one of the best tracks on the soundtrack because it brings innate nostalgia to the listener. Especially in the context of Sunny’s world, this track is perfect.

“I Prefer My Pizza 90% Grease” is a joyful pocket in the midst of Sunny’s world. This track plays in Kel’s favorite pizza restaurant. It is a refreshing upbeat tune in the overarching uncertainty of Sunny’s world.

“Just Leave Me Alone” is one of the must distinct on the album.

I would define this 40 second track as a fusion of metal, hard rock and electronic grunge. It is loud and boisterous. It evokes feelings of unbridled frustration and chaotic fear, which is perfect for the context in the game. I won’t go into the context because it contains a minor spoiler, but this is a moment where the soundtrack truly shines. It makes a great moment in the story into something spectacular.

Alone Soundtrack

There are moments in the game where Omori is completely isolated from his friends, whitespace, dreamworld and real world. These moments are when he is confronting great fears or making a profound discovery.

This is where the soundtrack really shines.

“Acrophobia”, “Arachnophobia” and “Fade” are indescribably eerie. All three use simple sound techniques to build an inescapable atmosphere of isolation and fear.

They are each so distinct from any of the other tracks in the game and they appear at unexcepted moments throughout the experience.

These soundtracks are so desolate and dark that it innately makes the player miss the sounds and sights in both the dreamworld and real world.


Omori is an extraordinary video game experience with thoughtful creation and deliberate soundtrack.

In this blog I only mentioned a handful of the extraordinary work and dedication that went into making this soundtrack– They created a total of 179 unique tracks totally in at 3 hours and 45 minutes of listening.

In this blog I only discussed on tracks in part one of the Omori soundtrack. If you would like to listen to tracks off part two and part three, you can find them here.

Another component I really appreciated is there are many endings the player can have. It gives decisions made in the game gravity and an incentive to replay once completed.

Also, there is a wide variety of side quests within the game that add a lot of body and diversity to the game play. Omori has so much content and enriching character.

If you are interested in playing Omori, it is available for both the Nintendo Switch and desktop via Steam.

Band/Artist Profile Miscellaneous

Compelling Composers: Storytelling in Soundtracks

The storytelling ability of movie and video game soundtracks is astonishing.

This goes without saying, but there are so many outstanding stories to be told, and music provides us with a conduit for expressing overwise indescribable emotions.

For folks that have experiences tabletop role playing games, soundtracks extend beyond the story they were originally tailored for. Music becomes a backdrop for new stories to be built and new characters to be born.

I have fallen deeply in love with storytelling through music. Entire worlds, atmospheres and moments are fabricated through thoughtful sound design and music.

This care, consideration, and devotion within musical storytelling is demonstrated beautifully through fantasy composers. To highlight some of my favorite stories and soundtracks, I have compiled favorite tracks from three different composers.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Original Soundtrack Recording)” cover art by Gareth Coker

Gareth Coker

Gareth Coker has truly mastered the art of soundscapes. Using mystical strings, woodwinds, piano and vocals he invigorates and redefines video game and fantasy soundtracks.

His music is simply smoothing, pensive and mystical.

Some of his projects include Halo Infinity, ARK Genesis and the Ori series. However, the context of these projects is not necessary to appreciate the peaceful ambiance and atmosphere Gareth Coker creates.

I particularly love his work in the Ori albums. These albums are simply musical bliss.

Moody orchestral lines are the backbone of the project. Combined with angelic vocals by Aeralie Brighton, the soundtrack is dynamic and pensive.

“Ori, Lost In the Storm” is a lovely example of the atmospheres he is able to construct.

“Darkwood (Original Video Game Soundtrack)” cover art by Arthur Kordas

Arthur Kordas

Arthur Kordas is the co-developer and composer of Darkwood, a survival horror video game released in 2020.

Although his discography is limited, his work builds an isolated and eerie world like no other.

His work defined by his command of subtly. The soundtrack creates an ambiance rooted in emotions of loneness and fear, making a perfect backdrop for Darkwood.

A lot of soundtracks attempt to make music that is monumental in sound, however Arthur Kordas recognizes the beauty in ambiance.

“Intro” uses sounds found in nature to bring the listener into the world of Darkwood. The subtle rustling of trees fades into deep rhythmic motions shrouded in an unknown tone. Long, building line are prominent throughout his work.

“Piotrek” and “New Dawn” are an excellent example of the power within stillness. Long orchestral beats bring a sense of caution and fear to the listener. As if scared to make the next move, each line is intentional in the path it takes slowly building to tenser moments.

The stillness, patience and atmosphere heard in Darkwood is unlike the work of any other composer.

“MADE IN ABYSS ORGINAL SOUNDTRACK” cover art by Kevin Penkin

Kevin Penkin

Kevin Pankin is the composer of Made in Abyss series. This is a composer that creates monumental sound with a compelling, abstract approach.

He combines heavy, roaring sounds with delicate lightness. The juxtaposition within his discography is distinct.

He provides the listener with a true experience without the context of Made in Abyss. The personalities and childlike curiosity of the characters are evident within the tracks.

The use of orchestral elements is also very unique in his work. Through thoughtful dynamics, placement and composition, Kevin Penkin turns an orchestral piece into an experiential collage.

“Made in Abyss” and “The First Layer” are excellent introductions to his discography. Light and childlike, these gentle tracks subtlety allude to approaching challenges.

Kevin Penkin loves the use of sudden dynamic leaps. “Encounter the Umbra Hands” makes dynamic movements beautifully. Elegant strings are contrasted by big roaring sounds.

In even bolder tracks Kevin Penkin begins to meld vocals into the composition. “The Rumble of Scienitic Triumph” is characterized by its chant like choral melody with a dynamic, thoughtful backing.

The variety of orchestral movements Kevin Penkin makes is astounding. His work exceeds his genre and becomes a musical collage triumph.