Hey, all you chipfans out there! It’s been a hot minute because a lot of HUGE things have been happening in my life [Editor’s note: congrats to Aydan on getting married! ♥], but I’m back with an OST review hot off the press! Dizzy Knight is a mobile game released in October 2018, and is highly reminiscent of SNES adventure games, both in graphical aesthetic and in its music. When Norrin Radd released the soundtrack a little longer than two weeks ago on Bandcamp, I knew I’d heard his name somewhere, and upon further sleuthing discovered that he’d written a track for one of the greatest chipmusic compilations ever released, ‘Noisechan and Nugget: Adventures in Chiptunes’. As evidenced by his SoundCloud and Bandcamp portfolio, he specializes in writing highly polished OST music; however, in his own liner notes, he reveals that the tracks on the ‘Dizzy Knight OST’ are more raw in nature. Let’s see what’s in store for us on this OST!
We’ll start off with the first track on the album, none other than the ‘Title Screen’. The song opens with a simple and repeated set of notes, which persists throughout the entirety of the song. Deep percussion accentuates the second beat of each measure, while a snare relentlessly rolls away in the aural background. In the first half of the piece, the track’s quiet, flute-like melody rises to play a unique passage that adds a subtle layer to the mellow, anticipation-building tone of this piece. In the latter half of the piece, melodic instrumentation is significantly louder than previously as the track reaches its climax, then fades out. However, the themes from this simple introduction carry over into the next track…
…which happens to be a more focused, diverse rendition of the first! ‘The Dizzy Knight’ adds numerous layers of depth to the leitmotif that Norrin Radd initially decided to compose, and nearly doubles the length of the piece. This rendition of the game’s title theme sounds like a completely new composition; the midsection of ‘The Dizzy Knight’ utilizes improvisation across all voices to the point that it sounds like a completely separate piece from ‘Title Screen’. Notably, only the beginning and the very end of the song are exactly identical to the album’s first track, and just prior to the beginning of the song’s fade-out, more variance among instruments can be heard. More specifically, the bass in the last moments of ‘The Dizzy Knight’ is given a kind of free roam as it becomes more clear, and its tones register and resonate more strongly with the listener.
From the OST’s track listings, an uninformed listener (like myself) can infer that there are three different types of bosses that the player can encounter. There seem to be three unique bosses: a Knight, a Lich, and a Slime, which happen to be three kinds of enemies characteristic to JRPGs. In terms of establishing the unique challenges and characteristics of these enemies, I’d say that Norrin Radd has the technique down to a science. ‘A Boss Lich Approaches’ opens with a chromatic climb and aggressive percussion, starting out in a 7/8 time signature, which gives this track a sense of urgency bordering on panic. Octave-spanning note changes, a fast, constant vibrato, and a unique key all contribute to the eerie vibe of ‘A Boss Lich Approaches’; considering a lich is an undead being within the realm of fantasy, typically utilizing necromancy and other forms of dark magic to defeat its foes, the aforementioned attributes suit the piece quite well.
The last track I’ll be reviewing is the relaxed, yet deliberately chaotic penultimate piece, ‘Spirals’. The piece, predominantly written in an unorthodox 11/8 time signature, immediately establishes its initially disorienting theme. The song is cohesive throughout despite its musical notation; the melody may be difficult to follow in terms of when its measures begin and end, but the listener will be hard-pressed not to find themselves humming along. As ‘Spirals’ progresses through its chorus and verses, it transitions through 3/4, 4/4, and 7/8 without fully settling into any of them. In the last moments of the song prior to its loop, however, Norrin Radd settles on 4/4 as the piece reaches its hopeful, inspired climax. While its constant permutations are reminiscent of progressive metal, ‘Spirals’ is never particularly aggressive. The fact that one can hear the influence that progressive music has had on Radd, and how he’s utilized similar elements in such a subtle manner is fascinating.
‘Dizzy Knight OST’ is available as a pay-what-you-want album on Bandcamp, and of course, the soundtrack can be heard in the free-to-play mobile game ‘Dizzy Knight’, available on both Android and iOS. I’ve given the game a shot myself, and have to say that it’s challenging yet fluid, and the music is contextually relevant. Norrin Radd’s music is pretty rad (ugh), and I look forward to seeing his name in the credits of video game soundtracks to come!