Emmy nominated composer Gil Talmi recaptures the imaginative wonder of stepping into your first arcade with the soundtrack to ‘The Lost Arcade’, a documentary about Chinatown Fair, the last arcade in New York City, the people whose lives were shaped there and after its closure, the struggle to rekindle the lost sense of community through a re-imagined, updated arcade.
Watch the trailer and breathe deep into that sense of community you got from being a part of your local arcade:
Still hovering your quarter over the coin slot? Jump into the full soundtrack review below:
As mentioned in the press release for the soundtrack, director Kurt Vincent found an available office space to edit the documentary in the studio of composer Gil Talmi. They became ‘fast’ friends, and Talmi found a sincere connection to the documentary as Kurt shared his editing progression. Talmi set out to create a score that would elevate the ‘bittersweet’ feelings that come with fawning over days gone by and that golden age grabbing community and camaraderie by the joystick.
The conscious choice to build toward an organic expression through (mostly) digital means is always welcome within chiptune; maintaining emotional infusion from intention through execution is a universal mainstay of successfully intricate electronica. Gil Talmi’s approach deftly steers around the melting pot inclination of standard chiptune fare, choosing minimalism over affluence, meanderings over rigidity, and most admirably, an adamant need for authenticity including scouring eBay for a Roland Juno 6 (the ‘first synth’ Talmi had ever owned).
Talmi distills analog, digital and voice components into concentrated aether. Check out a quick interview with Talmi in which he explains a little more about how he composed the album:
Read on for a few of the high-caliber highlighted tracks from ‘The Lost Arcade’:
‘The Lost Arcade’ explores the fostering and maintenance of community musically by toying with unnerving extensions of tone and minimalism and cohesive buildups with a precision that elevates the entire tone of the album to a cinematic level; a personal goal (magnificently achieved) by Gil Talmi. By injecting pin-point additions of core chip sounds into a much broader organic soundscape, Talmi absolutely achieves his goal of ensuring this soundtrack doesn’t “feel like it’s coming out of the machine” but instead nails a very real and very human sense of connection between organic and digital.
‘Singularity’ is so etherial. Minimal and repetitive is a thin wire to walk and find success on the other side, but Talmi tweaks and builds to ‘Singularity’s foundation with such directed subtlety that entices and all but demands curiosity. As a cinematic soundtrack, this is completely appropriate, setting an unimposing tone throughout. Contemplation and recollection shine through this moody track that lays its undercurrent with a smooth, deliberate dedication.
‘(Digital) Snow Within’ emerges as a light piercing through darkness. Soft droning tones explore continuous evolving harmonies under elegantly-terse warbling waves to create a wondrous expanse of open sound. In all honestly, it is Talmi’s exquisite use of the space between that underscores his compositional prowess. Talmi excels at capturing moments and letting them settle on their own time; every note has its place but are allowed to set their own terms, fostering organic runs beyond expectation.
‘Deep Blue’ plays with fleeting chirps over a hypnotic harmonic meld of soft organ tones in an “Aurora Borealis” of musicality. Uplifting and beautiful, ‘Deep Blue’ incubates a sense of hope among an encroaching expanse of uncertainty. Talmi integrates gradually deeper and grittier tones, playing off the previously constructed soft tones, providing a slow-flowing game of pong between that sense of hope and encroaching uncertainty, and the result is absolutely serene.
Gil Talmi takes the concept of survival through community and runs with it, delivering an experience that lovingly tugs on nostalgic strings. ‘The Lost Arcade’ is a masterclass in cinematic composition, plain and simple. Extraordinary, expansive, and deceptively intricate, ‘The Lost Arcade’ by Gil Talmi is available now on Bandcamp for $7USD (or more) or iTunes for $9.99 and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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