Of Warmth and Love of the Land
Continuing on Scarlet Moon’s series of taking video game soundtracks and transforming them into beautiful piano renditions, Stardew Valley gets the Scarlet Moon treatment thanks to the arrangements of Matthew Bridgham and the fine performing chops of Augustine Mayuga Gonzales.
The warm, swaying, cuddly and catchy music of Stardew Valley, originally composed by ConcernedApe, transpose perfectly across for a warm and homely piano sound. Between Bridgham and Gonzales, they both manage to keep that initial sense of adventure and cuteness balanced to perfection as they seem to have an intrinsic understanding that the vying attentions of both sides, wrapped in the warmth of home, is what makes Stardew Valley connect with players over the world. The arrangements are split aptly into their seasons. The songs from Spring have a warmth and gusto to them and with plenty of cute mini flourishes and ditties to entertain you. It feels like each track has a spring in its step. The Summer tracks are more bombastic with their arrangements too with pace, beat and a richness of a Latin Jazz flavour at times that really shines throughout. Being a guy that loves some darkness in his music, Fall’s arrangements still contain that warmth and flair but now instead of rising through the octaves and energy waves like earlier, these arrangements, in general, have a downward trend much like the leaves that fall with the melodies. The low notes resonate longer, there’s more room for pause and they feel a little more broody although “Ghost Synth” has a beautifully explosive final section that had me hitting repeat immediately. Winter’s tracks are quiet and delicate like the flakes of snow and have the cute factor notched up to ten – particularly with the pizzicato like arrangement of “Ancient”.
Between these seasons are other tracks too. The “Overture” opens the collection with style, “Pelican Town” is a full-bodied bluesy number and three mine tracks that give us a slice of tension, a clockwork cuteness and a bit of reflection too. Closing out the 22 tracks are three unreleased tracks from game updates post soundtrack release. These three tracks are quiet and gentle pieces that fit the theme of nighttime and are a welcome addition to the collection. They are all so soft though I’d have preferred them pre rather than post the anthemic climax of “A Golden Star Was Born” which feels like the natural end to the collection. It is literally the only tiny critique I have on what is a perfectly pitched and played piano collection and a fabulously fresh take on songs that I’ve heard myself for hours on end.
I often rave over piano arrangements on this website but I do it for a reason. They click with me in a way that other arrangements often don’t and its because it takes the often heavily synthed melodies and gives a wholly artistic and human flavour. Combining that with the warmth and joy of Stardew Valley makes recommending the Stardew Valley Piano Collections one of the easiest things I’ve done all year. Superb.
Recommended track: Spring: The Valley Comes Alive
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