It’s New Year’s Eve, and, as usual, I’m stuck in a house devoid of people my own age, in a city devoid of people my own age I know, so I will just cradle a beer and watch Jools Holland tonight. However, tomorrow is a brave new day in a brave new year, and so naturally I have to look back at the past 365 days and have a ponder. Only I need to ponder with a certain frame of mind, because, as this is a PC Gaming site, only things to do with PC gaming will do. So what follows are the tracks of 2008 that ensnared me for at least a week at a time, and were thus playing while I was playing, and are thus inextricably linked with the games I was playing. I’m sure I can try and find some valid links to games too, because that’s what journalists do, and that’s what I’m masquerading as.
BlindBlindBlind – A Silver Mt.Zion: 2008 was a big year for Dystopia in games, as I wrote about here, and it was also the year I consumed as much Post Rock as I could get my hands on. Silver Mt.Zion are my favourite of the genre, taking the best of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and adding utterly heartbreaking vocals. It’s probably the apocalyptic nature of the music, but I find it is the musical form of dystopia, and there was nothing quite like playing Fallout 3 with 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (The album the song is on) and just watching the wasteland stir with dust. It was really quite something.
Re:Stacks – Bon Iver: Arguably the best song on For Emma, Forever Ago, Re:Stacks has had a ridiculous number of plays on my music player this year. It’s had an effect on too many of the slow paced games I’ve played to count, but probably most impressively on The Longest Journey, which, while it has an excellent score on it’s own, certainly lends itself well to acoustic music. As for some sort of wide ranging relation to PC Gaming in general, the song is about gambling.. so maybe there’s some sort of link in there? I mean, there’s that poker game that’s advertised everywhere. That’s on PC right? Yeah. That’s it.
Death is the Road to Awe – Clint Mansell: I know there are lots of mixed feelings on how good The Fountain was (it was bloody amazing), but had one of the best scores for a film for a long time. Like Mansell’s previous work on Requiem for a Dream, it has the quality of making whatever it accompanies seem utterly incredible and heartbreakingly epic at the same time. Playing Team Fortress 2 while listening to this was the cause of some of my greatest pyro runs ever. It’s like a drug; it just makes you awesome.
Bright Tomorrow – Fuck Buttons: Beside having one of the best names ever, Fuck Button’s album ‘Street Horrrsing ‘ contained some of the best experimental electronic music I’ve heard in a while, and everyone knows electronic music is just game music, right? I mean do I really have to link this in to any one particular game? It’s just good, and it’s made using a computer. Oh fine, it’s something that would work well on a slow motion video of something like Far Cry 2? It’s got a big build. Is that good enough? Please let that be good enough.
Slapped Actress – The Hold Steady: This would be so much bloody easier if I was allowed to talk about console games. I could just say they are all songs that should have been on Guitar Hero/Rock Band. This more so than most. It’s just bloody awesome. Someone once said that the Hold Steady was what beer would sound like if it could sing. And so, by proxy, I think it’s the sort of thing The Engineer would listen to. I know I’ve already made a Team Fortress 2 reference, but you’re bloody lucky I’m not just claiming all of these are associated with TF2, because they are. I played a lot of TF2 last year.
Cape Fear – Fantomas: This would be an easy one even if Mike Patton hadn’t done voice work for Left 4 Dead (you can read our interview with him here). Fantomas make creepy music. Left 4 Dead is creepy as hell. They’re a perfect match, so, without even having to claim that it’s like listening to the zombies of the game making music, it’s very much the music the game never had. Play a campaign while listening to something like “The Director’s Cut” and you’ll be looking forward to going back to the procedural stuff Valve put in the game. Chilling.
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song – Fleet Foxes: This only gets an honourable mention because, brilliant as it is, I can think of nothing to link it to PC games. It’s just too damn nice. Brilliant album though.
Loud Pipes – Ratatat: Again, great track and album, but nothing to link it to games, sadly.
I’m going to stop there, even though there is plenty more to mine this year. These are the tracks I’m still listening to months on after the first listen, and that’s a pretty special thing for me. Hopefully there’ll be some more greats in the next 12. Happy New Year!