Bound is one of my favourite games from 2016. It was something to be experienced on multiple levels and one of those levels came from its interactive music that shape shifted depending on the level you played and the order you played the levels in. Trying to press down Heinali’s heavily personalised experience into a narrative that runs in a singular direction is really tricky as Bound’s soundtrack is by design ambient and reactive.
Heinali has created an abstract ambient world to get lost in however, and although its heavily stylised and won’t be to everyone’s tastes – it’s quirky and twisted melting pot of piano, synth and frequency changes make a compelling otherworldly force.
The main portion soundtrack’s 22 tracks are broken down into colours of mood that you traverse through. These are each five-minute renditions of similar themes that kick off with “First Argument” and then organically change pace, fierceness and discord over each of the colour named tracks. Moving from the piano and rhythmic synth bass line, organs and soaring pin prickles glitter and glide over your ears. “First Argument” really set the tone but “Red” creates a more industrial and percussive version that feels harsh and sore. “Orange” is warmer but plays on a creepier vibe of howling sirens and warped piano chords. “Green” on the other hand keeps all the out of tune elements and turns it into an epic sci-fi adventure where you truly feel alive and unstoppable. Being able to shape the same song in so many unique ways and feelings is really the crux of why Bound as a soundtrack works superbly on its own merit and not just in the game. “Grey” is expectedly subdued and melancholy with some amazing muffled echo effects and “Blue” feels like you are experiencing the track in slow motion.
A secondary theme runs in the interspersing tracks which are in general more melodic and often euphoric. They remind me of the soundtrack Clint Mansell made for Moon sometimes with piano riffs and motifs being underscored by outstanding synth arrangements. It’s the attention to pitch shifting, bending and frequency manipulation that’s key here as sounds start off organic and slow devolve into something alien and more sinister. The standout epic moment comes from “The Escape” which pulls together much of the soundtracks themes and delivers it in one epic piece. In a more subtle moment, the closing vocal theme “The Ocean That I Found” is beautifully understated and Judy Leuven provides emotive and reflective vocals that suit the whole thing perfectly as does the empty piano piece “5 Colours” which is one of the most emotive piano solo’s I’ve heard in years.
Put simply – if you would like to pick one artsy album to enjoy in 2016 then I urge you to choose Bound. Heinali has crafted something that may not grab you initially on the first listen immediately but the themes will dig under your skin and you’ll switch from enjoying the melody to appreciating the sheer marvel of the suite as a whole. Game Soundtrack of the year? It could well be…
Recommended Track : Escape