One of France’s best game music composers Pierre Esteve has veered off at times to produce some quite unique solo albums. One of these the aptly named “Obscura” which revels in delivering the unusual.
Opening track “Lux Perpetua Part 1” has a solo choir boy singing the title over some disquieting horror like music. This gives way to dramatic percussive “Obscura” which sounds almost orchestral but is actually made up of lots of strange sound effects. It really is a fantastic mood piece that sets you up to be haunted as it contorts and distorts further and further throughout the track. “Libera Me” then juxtaposes dripping water with some smooth yet isolating monk chants. The song does gradually add some warmth with some background keyboard work but I still feel it as a cold and spiritual emptiness.
“Temptacium” is a fantastic track. It’s a wicked twisted circus act piece with its mad waltz over cute but scary chimes, music boxes and foreboding bass. “Dalcima” takes the hammered dulcimer to the fore of the spiritual track that feels like a realisation of something. The dulcimer is almost freeform around a certain melody while the other instruments track a certain path. It’s beautiful. “Liber Petri” has a very similar melody but takes it to an almost abstract level with a keyboard synth that reminds me of glass ringing but much more spacious. “Gypse” is ambience for the most part as it plays on your imagination.
“Abyssus” goes to the spiritual plains with some heavy stereo panning to almost sound like meditation music but with all the music around it you’ll be far from a meditative state at all! That will be for certain when the panicked “Organum” enters. A fully blasting church organ with church bells to boot, its dramatic, pounding and full speed ahead for the entire track. Its one of the album stand outs. “Prima Aqua” goes underwater for lots of watery samples and muted bells. It’s tuneful and melodic and with its changes in key it does still have a sinister undercurrent even those its a relatively relaxed piece. “In Utero” is the longest track on the album and is six minutes of strange noises, random ambience and unsettling nuances as things build up, fizzle away and then merge into a strange finale. The album closes with the “Lux Perpetua Part 2” which is a chime and choir version of the opening track but with a scary baby making noises over the top of it. It’s suitable eerie and is another great track.
Obscura certainly lives up to the name. It’s also certainly not for everyone. There’s one or two tracks that defy any real certification and the rest are almost bordering a horror vibe. Over the years I’ve had the album though it’s one of those I come back to fondly as an overall package. It’s all about descending into the mood, living through it and feeling like you’ve moved on somehow when you leave it. Strangely enticing.