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Austin Wintory – “Journey” Soundtrack Review

Having already raved about the game, the soundtrack is equally fantastic. Austin Wintory’s exquisite soundtrack is a wonderful collection of strings, Eastern wind instruments and some wonderfully emotive motifs. The 18 tracks give you an hour of audio heaven and a sense of a Journey in itself.

The soundtrack, as most game soundtracks do, runs the game from start to finish. “Nascence” is the main theme from the XMB menu with its beautifully haunting string arrangement before “The Call” enacts the ensemble starting to rumble forward for the Journey itself. Various motif’s that occur throughout appear here and are then stamped upon with “First Confluence” and “Second Confluence” as the music meanders and envelopes you before “Threshold” jigs things up with a more pacey number. “Third Confluence” builds on previous tracks before the dramatic “The Road of Trials” sets you off with a bump and progressively builds and adds lots of percussive orchestration. It’s difficult to describe but it’s very symphonic and yet it still always feels intimate and personal. The line between the two is walked perfectly.

“Fourth Confluence” then takes things into a darker and subdued level as we go underground which is built on with excellent use of harp in “Temptations” and lots of atmospheric electronic flourishes and glass warping on “Descent”. There’s a seldom used tom drum that rumbles throughout and the mood by now has shifted to dangerous and unnerving.

After a dramatic flourish the music shifts to a more Eastern vibe which carries on into “Atonement” where things start to get epic where some wonderfully tuned bells, thick string arrangements and sturdy drums wash over some delicate strumming of an ancient guitar which I can’t quite place. It sounds like a Raun but I’m not sure. The end result is one absolutely beautiful piece and worth the admission price alone. It rolls easily into the ambience of “Final Confluence” which blossoms into an adorable and emotive climactic version of the main motif – like a culmination of all we’ve listened to so far.

“The Crossing” is almost like a breaking down of what we’ve built up to as different instruments seem to spiral off and fall out of earshot before the slow and cautious “Reclamation” with its extra high-pitched string arrangement that is slightly discordant floats by. “Nadir” certainly doesn’t float by, it is a dramatic burst of tense strings unlike anything else on the soundtrack – like a last-minute gasp for fresh air or a ledge to cling to.

“Apotheosis” comes across as the ultimate culmination of everything we’ve listened to. From its huge tom drums, soaring string sections, dramatic scope and the way the returning motif’s just drip atmosphere, emotion and a certain rebirth depth. The whole soundtrack has a sympathetic higher string note going on that utterly defeats me and nowhere is it more prominent than here. Memorizing. The album closes with a beautiful vocal track “I Was Born for This” with vocals from Lisbeth Scott which reminds me of a more Westernised Lisa Gerrard with her non-English words. It’s perfectly pitched to bring you to tears.

Austin Wintory has made one of the most definitive game soundtracks of all time. As with the game, I simply cannot put it into words how beautifully sculptured this soundtrack is. I’m positive that having played the game several times over, I have a large bias steer because I’m already emotionally attached to the music but simply but, without the music Journey as a game would not have nearly impacted as much on me as it did. The fact it’s just as staggering beautiful as a standalone product is testament to its nigh on perfection.

2 comments

  1. I love Austin Wintory’s works <3 Especially Journey and Banner Saga – he has the knack for creating inspiring and beautiful atmospheres scaling a wide range of styles. Definitely one of my favourite composers of the recent years. I actually compose fantasy music under Celestial Aeon Project and Wintory's works have been quite a big influence for me. For example one of my latest releases is following the footsteps of Journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PWUe-TcfMs

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