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The Wailing Wall: Bastion's Music Live

Musical Squares

The headline doesn’t refer to an extravagant orchestral rendition that you’d have to pay money to see, but rather a short video containing two of Bastion’s most glorious audio treats. I’ll never find these songs as powerful as I did when they first drifted in, just as the structure of the world and the melancholy of the situation slotted into place around my gun-toting kid, but I still get shivers up my spine when that vocal starts. An intimate performance by audio director Darren Korb and vocalist Ashley Barrett, this is a lovely way to start a Friday, or any other day. Pretty good way to end one too. Listen down yonder.

The word ‘effortless’ popped into my head when I watched it for the first time. Stop being able to sing so well while sitting on a couch when I struggle to hit a single note at any time was the next thing I thought. Of course, there’s usually a lot of hard work and practice behind anything that looks effortless so I’ll let them off and assume they work at this music business every waking moment.

‘Effortless’ is a fairly good description of how the world-building in Bastion felt as well. It’s an odd place with odd creatures that fulfilled sometimes uncertain roles, but the game doesn’t draw attention to the weird. That’s an aspect of the narration that’s as or more important than all the gravelly tones money can buy – delivering exposition through a weary insider perspective provides scope to make subtle almost distracted reference rather than flashing great signposts. It’s a world built on fragments in so many ways.

Fragments of music are fragments of culture. These songs were written for that world but we are also supposed to believe they were written in that world. When we hear them, oftentimes the kid hears them too. The Hobbit trailer uses music in a similar way – not just as an emotive backdrop but as part of the texture of Middle Earth. In both cases, the audience isn’t simply being treated to something intended to be pleasing to the ear, they are being told that these are the songs that these characters sing and bear witness to, the melodies and lyrics that inform their lives. It’s a device I’m keen to see more of in whatever worlds I wander, or wend my way through.

Hey, Stampede, how ’bout a poem?

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Adam Smith

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