Happy January, folks!
After a few years of writing record reviews for ChipWIN, I’ve decided to take a prolonged break from writing articles here to focus on wrapping up records of my own, my career, life, and travel. Life has been super good but extremely busy, and while I may return on occasion, this article will be the last for a while, so I wanted to make it a good one.
This month, I wanted to push some attention towards game audio created by a friend of mine, Peter Brown, also known as peaksound. On the 22nd, Anisoptera Games released the Fields Expansion version of Reassembly on Steam, and with that, peaksound released some incredibly beautiful music on his Bandcamp. I had the pleasure of checking out the record prior to the release, and seeing it days later with gameplay did not disappoint.
Part of the work of a composer, when working with any sort of visuals, is to provide a story through music. With gaming being something that isn’t always linear, we rely so much on audio to compliment visuals to achieve an emotional response with ever changing gameplay, actions, and storyline. Peaksound did an incredible job with not only creating a gorgeous soundtrack, but also paying special attention to sonic textures that helped push the music to being something even more unique and inviting.
And now, without further ado, I present to you: peaksound!
Hi Peter! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I know you’re crazy busy. A ton of our readers are not only interested in lo-fi music, but also synthesizers, gaming, and game music. Tell us about your day to day with music and sound. Tell us about yourself!
Thank you for the opportunity!
I sleep on a bed of patch cables and windscreen blankets. Currently I am sitting at LAX airport after attending NAMM.
In case you didn’t answer it above… What’s your favorite color? Do you believe in horoscopes?
Green is underrated. I guess it depends on the object it is on. I wrestle with the cosmic universe daily.
What lead you to creating music for the game?
A college friend invited me to a dinner party back when I was living in LA. She introduced me to her brother, Arthur, the developer, and we became fast friends. Arthur had recently left his job at NVIDIA to pursue game development, and I convinced him to show me his game in its current state.
When you were signed on as the composer, was the game nearly done? Or were you working with developers along the way?
The game was pretty far from complete, however most of the essential mechanics were in place. Having the scale and basic mechanics solidified helped a ton with starting the sound design.
I saw Matt Mauldin did the mastering! He’s awesome. It always makes me happy to see people I know working together.
Matt is great! His music is absolutely nuts and way cooler than anything I can come up with. Highly recommend both his music and mastering services.
What was your approach to creating music for the game? What synthesizers/DAWs did you use?
Arthur and I discussed music implementation at length throughout Reassembly’s development process. The gameplay and state changes of Reassembly are incredibly dynamic – the player can dart in and out of combat at a moment’s notice. They can also encounter moments of quiet reflection while exploring the vastness of the universe. We tested a layering approach, but because of how quickly the game state changes occurred, the effect was a little too jarring. Instead, I composed complete pieces focusing on the mood of elements and concepts found in-game. Arthur was a dream to work with in that he let me have free reign over the music, which does not exist normally.
The recent DLC soundtrack included a lot of hardware synthesizers including Eurorack, Roland V-Synth XT, SYSTEM-8, and TR-8S, Novation Peak, Sledge 2.0, and some outboard effects. I also used a few shakers I bought from a random music shop in Hudson NY, and a rain-stick that I’ve had since a very young age. I also processed the bejesus out of some field and voice recordings I had with Reaktor, my all-time favorite plug-in.
DAWs used were Ableton Live 10 and Logic Pro X.
How long did it take for you to finish the sound track?
The DLC soundtrack had a fairly quick turnaround time, so it took about 2 months. I started many of the tracks by building a modular patch containing a type of mood or texture and compose around it. This was a blast to do because I was challenged to come up with creative ways to work around the weirdness that would occur during these modular recordings.
Were you working with any middleware?
Arthur built the entire game in C++, and while we used libraries from FMOD, I primarily worked with a .lua configuration file for calibrating the audio.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I have another video game music project lined up, and I am also looking forward to finishing some original material!
I know you played a show in Brooklyn last month. Do you have any upcoming shows planned? What do you use when you perform live?
My live-set partner and I have been discussing shows and venues for early-mid 2019. Would love to play out again ASAP.
My live set my Eurorack, a TR-8S drum machine, an SH-01A synth, and an MX-1 mixer. Somehow, I have been able to get away with using those pieces the last few times I have performed. The SH-01A’s sequencer has saved my set dozens of times.
Onetime I played an entire set with eurorack, an Octatrack, and an electric kalimba, and realized after I started that I didn’t have a single keyboard-type of instrument available!
What are some of your social media links people can find you at?
Tell us anything else you want us to know.
Be kind and listen to others.
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And that wraps up that! It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this community and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to write for this blog. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. Until then, continue to support your local artists and always listen to music. I’ll catch you all on the flip side!
Til next time,
The Unicorn Princess