The perfect parody for a colonised political radio station broadcast – with plenty of synthwave.
One of my favourite gaming experiences in 2021 has been Golf Club Wasteland. I reviewed it on my sister website Higher Plain Games and cited that playing golf on a destroyed Earth was made all the better by the radio broadcast you listen to as you play. Shane Berry and Igor Simic create over two hours of cinematic synthwave music and weave into it various broadcast announcements and stories that make this album one of the best concepts I’ve heard in years. The music is fantastic too.
The soundtrack is like a continuous radio show with a presenter dropping random government announcements that sound sinister and foreboding throughout. His cool, suave, European accent gives off a ‘don’t worry, it’s all chill’ sense but the words are largely terrifying. The humour is spot on. You’ll also enjoy about 13 listener calls who all give short stories about life on Earth and now on Mars. They range from chaotic to urban mystery to genuinely heartfelt. It’s called Radio Nostalgia for nothing. Each human feels like they’ve left a part of them on Earth. There is one specific track where someone plays recordings of mundane everyday sounds and talks about how she misses them and it feels oddly profound.
Moving onto the music itself, it’s a wonderful mix of dystopian synthwave, robotic dance and a splash of indie rock. ‘Repetition’ is an evil robot overlord vocoder telling you to assimilate tasks to a stomping beat. ‘Distant Thunder’ is a moody wasteland of neon synths and post-rock guitar jangles in the dust. Then you have the swinging acoustic bop of ‘Two Astronauts’ that is apparently all about “the evacuation” as the presenter says afterwards. In a similar toxic happiness vein ‘Surveillance Love Song’ is the jazziest way to be stalked by the Government in the moon.
For things a little more upbeat, ‘Earth Day Anthem’ is a synth runner that screams vaporwave anthem that would get thousands of purchases on Bandcamp. Its sister track ‘Aftermath’ is a vinyl popped miseryfest of ethereal woodwind synths and bright pianos. It’s one of the few bits of classical music that’s survived and couldn’t be more ominous! The vastness of music that has been synthwaved – and synthwaved well – is quite an achievement. ‘Rhythms Born Out of Hands’ takes tuned percussion, beatboxing and hand drums and creates a dystopian machine out of them. ‘Into the Desert’ turns the sitar into a lonely drone. Even the trance dancefloor anthems of ‘Under the Same Sun’ feel dark and dense from the throbbing basslines to the tense chord progressions. There is no levity here and the archaic screams of the closing piece ‘Blue Horizon’ evoke a lost human essence that clearly this colony no longer feels connected to. It rounds out the soundtrack beautifully.
Thematically and musically, I simply adore this soundtrack. There is so much going on from the adverts to the stories to the lyrics in the songs and the tense sinister music progressions – it fits together perfectly. Shane Berry and Igor Simic nail the dystopian lost hope of humanity trapped on Mars. Apparently, they are the lucky ones but this radio broadcast makes me question otherwise. Easily one of the best game soundtracks of the last few years and one of the best albums of 2021. Don’t sleep on it. They’re watching…
Recommended track: Earth Day Anthem
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