Recently, over on their blog, Bandcamp wrote up an article about how artists have been utilizing synths to create soundtracks for imaginary movies. I have not only seen this stated in a number of interviews that I have read, but personal discussions I have had with a few producers collaborate this as well, for many of those within the synthwave community were indeed inspired by the synth-ladened soundtracks of yesteryear.
Therefore, it should really come as no surprise that this is a phenomenon within the scene. However, this is not to say that every approach to this idea is the same as some provide little detail while others go into great detail about the story, or film, that the music is trying to accompany. If anything, these “faux-soundtracks” are akin to concept albums and therefore, while not only relying on the theater of the mind, they also rely heavily on the information that is provided either before, during, or after listening like a sort of radio play.
In the case of Even the Score, by Computronic, the soundtrack is complimented by voice overs from track-to-track which help to tell a story which is quintessentially 1980’s in design and structure: Rick Donald is an avid gamer who works at a local arcade which is owned and operated by Lou Armstrong. After being shamefully defeated by a rival gamer by the name of Tommy Skors at said arcade, while on a date with his girlfriend Sam, Rick receives news that Mr. Armstrong is retiring and looking to sell the arcade. Therefore, to save the arcade and his pride, Rick enters the Megacade contest only to once again come face to face with Tommy Skors in the final round. I won’t give away the ending, as I implore you to listen to the soundtrack yourself, but I will say that the journey is quite a ride from start to finish which is really how you should listen!
“Even the Score (featuring Becca Starr Bird)” is akin to the opening credit song of the movie, with the title of the film and the song being one in the same, and I could totally have seen this being a hot summer single to go along with the flick; which I guess it is in a way? Either way, “Ready Runner One” follows it up and is perfect montage music to go along with taking a run, because what would a 1980’s inspired movie be without a montage? Speaking of things that such a movie could not be without is a love song, and “Love is Innocent (featuring Vicky Harrison)” is one such song that is beautifully done. “Step Aside” is when things get interesting, and could be considered a battle song in many respects, with laser sounds that’ll be sure to get your adrenaline up. Also, there are a couple of guitar solos in the song by Powernerd Paddy that simply scream!
“Running the Storm (featuring Vandal Moon)” is that kind of song which tends to play when the hero of the story is at their lowest, wandering around aimlessly and wondering where it all went wrong, and the song itself is simply marvelous in capturing that raw emotion of helplessness before transitioning into pure hope. “Facelift” brings that hope to the forefront, and another bit of montage music, with the kind that involves a group coming together to fix up a place and return it to it’s former glory. “Wishing (featuring Historiaster),” which has amazing vocals, also features guitar work by Vampire Step-Dad (he also plays Mike, Rick’s friend!) and is another inspirational love song that pulls at the heart.
“Megacade” is what I consider to be part one of the climax to the film, setting the stage and the stakes, before going all-in on the ultimate showdown. “All or Nothing” is the second half of that climax and it is one hell of a race, literally and figuratively, as throughout the song the Megacade Announcer calls the action with such an intensely frantic tone that you can’t help but become instantly invested in the outcome. Also, the sheer number of references crammed into his dialogue just made me laugh and smile. The music itself is equally intense as the tempo rises with every beat and audience reaction; your pulse will be rising.
“Level Up” serves as the end credits song, although not before giving us the results of the competition, but again I won’t spoil the ending. What I will tell you is that, much like a lot of faux-soundtracks, I wish this was a real movie. While the theater of the mind is a wonderful thing, and every listener will envision things differently not unlike reading a book, I would still clamor for an actual movie to go along with this music. I stated before that it follows a common formula of 1980’s films, but this is not to say it isn’t unique; I believe it to be an all around genuine product that gives you a real good feeling in turn. You can tell that a lot of time, attention and love when into this and it’s those qualities which help to make anything special of which this album most certainly qualifies.
Even the Score is available on Bandcamp by way of TimeSlave Recordings.