What if you had an entire universe at your disposal to explore? That’s the question posed by No Man’s Sky, an upcoming space exploration video-game from Hello Games. Purported to contain some 18 quintillion randomly generated planets for players to explore, it’s undoubtedly a bold endeavour, and one that therefore requires a soundtrack equally as large in scope. The result? The 16 tracks that make up Music for an Infinite Universe, the latest album from Sheffield electronic post/math rock quartet 65DAYSOFSTATIC.
Opener Monolith begins with a foreboding synth arrangement that would hardly sound out of place in Inception, before giving way to tribal-sounding drums and an increasingly more erratic melody line that eventually begins to glitch out as the track reaches its peak. Supermoon, meanwhile, is a more immediately upbeat track that utilises what can only be described as soaring choral samples thrown in amongst the typical instrumentation, to great effect.
It’s this kind of sound that forms the overall basis of Music for an Infinite Universe – one that melds both sweeping cinematic strings with Blade Runner-esque futurism to great effect. That’s not to say there’s a lack of variation though – Heliosphere sounds more akin to a ballad at times (albeit one without vocals), whilst closing track End of the World Sun packs more variation into its near 7-and-a-half-minute run-time than some electronic acts manage in entire albums. Subdued and melodic one moment, and explosively busy the next, it’s a great example of how to utilize variety in music.
Where Music for an Infinite Universe performs best though, is in its more subdued moments. The quiet serenity of Escape Velocity especially encapsulates the feeling of isolation and loneliness that players are likely to find in the game, and listeners are likely to appreciate the relative simplicity of such a piece in amongst numerous others that are so unashamedly futuristic in their sound. Hypersleep ramps this approach up even further, eschewing almost all instrumentational complexity in favour of a sole piano accompanied by more subdued and atmospheric synth sweeps. It’s one of the more immediately listenable pieces of music on Music for an Infinite Universe, and one likely to stick with the listener for some time.
The second half of Music for an Infinite Universe comes in the form of six ‘soundscapes’ – bizarrely-titled extended pieces of music that serve to further demonstrate the variety of sounds that 65DAYSOFSTATIC have created for the enormous universe of No Man’s Sky. Clocking in at around 9-12 minutes a piece, they’re a hefty undertaking, and one that will undoubtedly polarise listeners. The multi-part structure of each piece can either be a blessing or a curse – some pieces meld near-seamlessly, whereas others can feel like a style clash of the highest order. This is perhaps most prominent in the third piece, Departure/Shortwave/Noisetest, which jarringly thrusts the listener back and forth across 11:50 of sweeping cinematic synth, delicate piano and sudden bursts of unnecessarily-startling noise, before a strangely out of place lo-fi electronic ending brings proceedings to a juddering halt.
Of course, the real measure of any soundtrack’s success is how enjoyable it can be outside of its original context, and luckily Music for an Infinite Universe delivers in this regard. Tracks such as Supermoon and Hypersleep are immensely enjoyable for very different reasons – sounding far more akin to film scores than traditional electronic music or video game soundtracks usually do. As such, No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe is definitely worth a listen.
No Man’s Sky: Music For An Infinite Universe is set for release on August 5th via Laced Records.
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