Mike Raznick, award-winning composer goes for the complete gothic vibe with the creepy, eerie and taut SPATE soundtrack from the recent game release. The soundtrack features a string quintet however the way they play is anything but ordinary.
Opening with “Prologue” a chill breezes through with a lot of high tension squeals in the background of a lonely violin that wails like a siren. The track is a builder and sets the scene perfectly with several low thuds of drama before “The X-Zone” begins. It’s more of a formed movement as the strings creep and moan as they remind me of a misty forest scene in a horror movie. “The Swamp” is more horror than what’s before it with a single high-pitched female occasionally wailing over some very low droning strings. There’s some great piano insides being recorded, like the pattering of the actual hammers. It’s like the music reveals the instruments under a microscope and you hear different parts of them in a new light.
“Venetian Dream” is more melodic but still has an eerie feel because of the way how the production is done. Everything feels like it’s being played in the distance and all the instruments sound thin. As a result you could play a happy tune and it’d sound off kilter. Instead Mike continues to haunt with vocal moans, percussive string slaps and taut note changes. “Dangerous” plays on the effects of emptiness before “Surreality” recalls similar ambient works to films like Baraka and Samsara with its disquiet meditative states. “A Dedication to Rain” is about as close to a proper theme as the soundtrack has. It weaves a curious chord pattern that is beautiful and so very gothic and haunting. It just raises the tension. “The Graveyard” is another chiller that slowly unveils into something a little prettier as it picks up the pace and instrumentation. “The Cave” however is more like a creeping vine with the woodwind becoming the main voice and sounding like an orchestras pre amble before the main set.
“Skybridge” is the brightest piece on the soundtrack as the open strings drone in an airy mist but there’s little to dampen the free spirit. It reminds me very much of Journey’s quiet moments where you begin to enter the snow mountain and that seems to be where the soundtrack itself heads. “Ascension Part 1” even has the rumbling bleed effect that Journey’s strings have but SPATE still holds a more ambient tense feel. “Ascension Part 2” continues that feel with a slowly ascending chord structure that is painfully slow. It’s the point of the track and it sticks to its guns. It makes the following track “A Choice” far more rewarding as it’s a beautifully played string piece that imbues emotion, tension and a finale of sorts. The closing track “A Splash of Absynth” then returns to the desolate soundscape of the rest of the soundtrack with distant strings, clunks and a bit of warped synth effects thrown in for good measure.
SPATE is tough. Mike Raznick has created a disquieting soundscape which is certainly not easy listening. There’s a lot of atmosphere and slow burning without the tension really being let off. As such the soundtrack is an acquired taste but fans of Silent Hill, horror film music, Nier and ambience noise will lap this up. I can absolutely see SPATE’s players loving it too. Outside of that though, it may be a tough nut to crack and get into.