Friday, April 20, 2012

Soundtrack Suggestion: Shame - Harry Escott

Shame - Official Soundtrack

Composed by Harry Escott

While the popularity of the movie may stem from Michael Fassbender and his notable... uh.. Rod of Lordly Might, I will have to admit that after hearing the very first track of this soundtrack, I knew I had to get it for the potential role-playing game use it would offer.   For those not familiar with the movie at all, Shame chronicles the events surrounding Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) and touches on sexual themes the only way director Steve McQueen knows best: without any hint of shame at all.  Brandon is struggling with his sexual addiction and the stage is set in New York City.  These elements alone already suggest that the soundtrack would be a fantastic one to use for games that touch on mature themes or are set in New York City.

Boy did I not regret this soundtrack!  Starting with the very striking opening theme, Brandon (01), which makes use of a constant tapping tempo, strings and a repeating signature harmony, the soundtrack does not waste time in lending itself to be used in so many ways.

The classical parts (Goldberg Variations BMV 988: Aria, Goldberg Variations BMV 988, Variation 15, Prelude &Fuge No.16 in G Minor) were a tad odd to have in the soundtrack but upon listening to them fully, one learns they can easily be used as soft background music during social scenes.  You have interesting vocal tracks like Genius of Love (track 03) by the Tom Tom Club, Rapture (track 04) by Blondie, and I Want Your Love (track 05) by Chic which clearly give the vocal tracks a 70-80s vibe to it.  But then a wonderful gem is My Favorite Things (track 06) by John Coltrane which is basically a jazz rendition of the Sound of Music song.  I've already used this track once as a dissonant element in a scene that featured a combat sequence.  Carey Mulligan herself lends her vocal chops in track 07 as she sings a poignant and doeful rendition of New York, New York.

Ultimately, while Brandon (track 01) and unravelling (track 11) sound very similar, the direction their emotional string pull at surprisingly is quite different.  And these two tracks plus the End Credits (track 15) make the soundtrack a worthy investment.

Shame track suggestions
WTF moment:  My Favorite Things (track 06), The Problem (track 13)
Introspective/calm moment:  Brandon (track 01), Goldberg Variations BMV 988(track 02), Genius of Love (track 03), I Want Your Love (track 05),
Tense/mystery moment:  Brandon (track 01), Prelude & Fugue No. 10 In E Minor, BWV 855 (track 09), Goldberg Variations, BWV 988_ Variation 15 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Quinta. Andante (1981 Version) (track 10),
Combat music:  Unravelling (track 11), You Can't Be Beat (track 12),
Hopeful moment:  Let's Get Lost (track 08),   Unravelling (track 11),  You Can't Be Beat (track 12),
Drama/sad moment:  Rapture (track 04), New York, New York (track 07), Prelude & Fugue No. 16 In G Minor, BWV 885_ Praeludium (track 14), End Credits (track 15)

Best Used In: Games that have a subtle undertone of tension or danger.  Less appropriate for epic battles and extreme violence.  But for an atmosphere of subdued threat of pain and suffering, this one works pretty well.  The vocal tracks can give your games a touch similar to Luc Besson movies (The Fifth Element, Wasabi) if you play them right.

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