It’s been a hot minute since I’ve heard the name Derris-Kharlan, so when Brandon notified me that an indie game with a soundtrack by this seldom-featured artist had been released, I was intrigued. I was quite excited to see what the project is all about, and wanted to familiarize myself with some of his previous compositions prior to this review. In perusing his Bandcamp page, I found the bizarrely comical Sonic Art series, a track released through the GameChops label, and I was reminded of his track on the classic ChipWIN Expansion Pack. Needless to say, his releases are few and occasionally far in-between. The excitement I had for this album spurs, however, from an iconic chipmusic album I love deeply – Ubiktune’s 2010 ‘Wintertunes‘. Derris-Kharlan’s contribution, ‘Reconciliation‘, is a piece that has always been special to me. It would play on my commutes to my college courses, or while I was studying or heading to work when I was just getting into chipmusic. I’m excited to have the opportunity to review ‘Rogue Singularity’, and I’m prepared to see what lies beyond the shroud of the stars!
‘Rogue Singularity’ is an action platformer game created by indie studio Considerable Content where levels are procedurally generated, and as such no two levels are identical. The player plays as a small robot attempting to survive the catastrophic remnants of a black hole – a rogue singularity – that has suddenly appeared, destroying countless planets in its wake. The first level that the player encounters is set to ‘Assembly Line’, an upbeat and energetic piece. As is the case with many dance hits, nearly all of the track’s elements are introduced within its first few seconds. A basic kick-snare percussion and a simple rhythmic progression allow the melody to take center-stage when it appears at the 0:15 mark. Bass is introduced just 15 seconds later, before all instruments outside of the melody take a breather as ‘Assembly Line’ drops. As the first level of a game helps familiarize oneself with the mechanics of the game and presents concepts to the player in an easily digestible way, so too should the opening track of an album. ‘Assembly Line’ most certainly lays down the foundation for an exciting trip.
Next up, we’ll take a look at the eerier, tense ‘Logistics’. As we’ve previously seen, most of the piece’s elements are present from the start. The vibe of ‘Logistics’ is established immediately, as its slower tempo and less in-your-face progression commences this pensive, provocative piece. The rhythmic elements are subdued, with chords permeating our hearing just enough that we’re reminded of them, and its percussion being simple and static to emphasize rigid compositional structure. A gust-like effect prefaces the main groove of ‘Logistics’, in which percussion and bass dominate the established melody before instruments begin wresting control from one another with each new phrase.
‘Singularity’ marks the halfway point of this soundtrack. It’s atmospheric, with a near absence of any percussive elements save for the occasional reverberating kick. Everything feels slow and deliberate, especially when compared to all the previous pieces on the album. The melody of ‘Singularity’ is controlled and foreboding in a sense, and ambient sweeping effects reset with the beginning of each melodic phrase, signified by a single note and a kick. One can easily imagine floating through the stars, aimlessly drifting across a cloudless aether into the deep unknown.
While I’ve only truly delved into the first half of this album for the sake of this review, I’d like to point out that the second half of the album contains two more completely unique pieces in ‘Error Repeat’ and ‘Replicate’, alongside the more aggressive EX counterparts to the first four tracks of this soundtrack. These remixed versions of ‘Assembly Line’, ‘Interchange’, ‘Logistics’, and ‘Machine Learning’ are bass-heavy, explosive bangers with new solos, differently pitched melodies, expanded basslines, and more. Make sure you listen to these permutations on the original pieces; you really won’t want to miss out on all of the new elements these introduce.
Derris-Kharlan’s soundtrack to ‘Rogue Singularity’ is available on Bandcamp for $5 USD, and the game is available on Steam for just $14.99 if you’re so inclined. This isn’t the first time that a game’s soundtrack alone has gotten me so intrigued, and I’m certain that it won’t be the last amazing release Derris-Kharlan has in store for us.
This was worth the wait.