The Gardens Between is a beautiful puzzle game that game out last year with its own soundtrack from composer Tim Shiel. I reviewed it very favourably talking about how chilled out but quietly sad it was. Slightly earlier this year a volume 2 of music from the game was released. ‘Glowing Pains Deeper Cuts’ is more of the same and that is not such a bad thing.
Tim Shiel creates this volume of the soundtrack more like a sad indie movie about coming of age. You have the acoustic guitar, soft bass drones, field recordings and noises of weather and surroundings and plenty of fluffy synths. ‘New King Mega’ personifies all of this with understated melancholy as the guitar slowly transitions to light piano whilst rain falls and kids play in the background. ‘Moon Scars’ offers a Matmos like minuscule percussive ambience using the same instruments.
Elsewhere the soundtrack switches to ambience first. The cold drones of ‘Glitch Time’ feel alien whilst the warmer gusts from ‘Memory Palace’ feel like shades of the sun gently beaming down. Only twice does the ambient and synth world get a bit more aggressive and that is with ‘Child Life’ and the superb ‘Soft Colours’. The latter track reminds me of Oxenfree and Bound in style and sound.
The collection is completed with two single edits and an extended version of songs we already know. ‘Are You The Same’ features researcher’s dreamy vocals and the synth-pop minus drums track is much more immediate in this version. ‘Golden Satin’ reminds me of abstract Bibio pieces and is a lazy plinky and bass number. ‘Spirit Home’ features Luke Howard on an extended mix. This piano-led melody is something I could listen to on repeat and feel all kinds of things so a longer version is appreciated.
Ultimately though, this is for fans of the first soundtrack who wanted more. What is here is full of beautiful quality but the bigger themes were all used the first time around. If this is viewed as a bonus disc, I really embrace the ability to hear it and enjoy its tender, calmer moments. It does feel a little naughty though if the soundtrack was going to be split up from the start as I’d have liked to buy it in its entirety and chronologically. It’s a minor nag but one worth making in what is another lush collection of whimsical and wholesome reflective game music.
Recommended track: Soft Colours
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