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About this Writers Block

A continuation of one's Twitter trend of #TuneTuesday, where I ramble about a piece of music I really like, to show appreciation to my other composer colleges and heroes. Usually, this is a piece of video game music, but I also talk about music from film, anime and songs in any other sort of style.

Entries in this Writers Block

#TuneTuesday No. 72: Downtown Theme

Jack Le Breton

This week's #TuneTuesday is from #VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines, that PC game I keep coming back to. The cue is Downtown Theme composed by Ric Schaffer.

In case you're not aware, Bloodlines is based off World of Darkness' LARP (live-action roleplaying (game)) 'Vampire: The Masquerade' and has you play as one of 7 vampiric clans, each with their own quirks and powers (note: VtM has 13 clans...for the most part). Once you are embraced in Bloodlines, you are pretty much a puppet to a Sebastian LaCroix, who is the leader of a vampiric group called the Camarilla, who are enemies with a slightly freer group, the Anarchs. I could go on more about the story, but I do not want to spoil more than I already have done.

I may have made the rivalry sound very simplistic and uninteresting, but that is not the case at all. VtM (and by extension, VtMB) is, and always has been, a game of politics, as these two factions (and the more primal Sabbat), have their own beliefs and systems as to why they are the better than the others and why their way is the best way. To be very crude, the Camarilla is basically 'fuck you, peasants, bow down and kiss the knee', the Anarchs is 'fuck da police' and the Sabbat is 'fuck everyone'.

So where does this cue play into this? VtMB has you, the player, explore 4 different hub zones in a really small version of LA; Santa Monica, Chinatown, Hollywood and Downtown, each one with their own theme that plays on a loop as you explore each hub. Whilst VtMB does have its own theme, which is basically a rip off of 'Angel' by Massive Attack, I think Downtown Theme reflects the gritty politics found in the game (the Camarilla and Anarchs have a strong footing here) much more. It's dark brooding F minor riff is the darker reality of a modern vampire stalking the streets on modern bystanders, not some Count Dracula 'I hath come to suck'th the blood', luring innocents into their lair.

And with almost every American able to carry around guns easily, no Kindred is safe...

#TuneTuesday No. 71: The Darkness Theme

Jack Le Breton

This week's #TuneTuesday comes from one of my favourite PS3 games and is quite possibly one of the most underrated games on the previous generation. It is the theme from 'The Darkness', composed by Gustaf Grefberg. But first, some context as to how I discovered this game that is loosely based on the comic of the same name.

I didn't use the internet that much during school. All the games I would ever hear about either came up in playground conversation, adverts, magazine reviews, or that one program on Bravo that I would watch, before both the show and program were discontinued. It was only during the end of teens that I began to use YouTube as a source of game news and reviews, which was how I discovered 'The Darkness' during my first year at college. This was through a Watch Mojo Top 10 list on the most violent video games, the game's sequel being on that list.

The game (and the comics it is based on) follows Jackie Estacado, a former hit-man in The Mafia, was targeted for assassination on the eve of his 21st birthday by the don of the New York mafia, "Uncle" Paulie Franchetti, following a failed task to retrieve money for the latter. While hiding in a cemetery bathroom, The Darkness, an ancient force that has inhabited his family for several generations, awakens within Jackie, becoming the possessor of unholy demonic abilities that feed off the dark.

As for the music for the game, you explore a fictionalised New York, with no UI/HUD to help you. You explore different districts, each one has their own sinister ambient 'pad' that plays. Like ogres, each district cue has layers that are mixed in and out depending on what is happening on the screen.

One version is an ambient one when there are no enemies around. The other is a stealth one, which has more tension, as there are enemies present that you are either sneaking around or hiding from. The third is a combat version, where you are fighting enemies, and there are metal guitars and drums in your face as your popping caps like a badass and ripping people's heads off with these weird Darkness snakeheads. In game audio, this technique is known as 'Vertical Layering', as they are literally stacking on top of each other.

The theme itself has never heard isn't entirely in the game (believe me, I've checked!) but you hear the loud chorus at various points, usually during climactic moments with The Darkness, who is voiced by fucking Mike Patton of Faith No More!

I believe there is no piece of music for a film, game etc. more important then it's the main theme, as the sets the tone of what to expect when enjoying this piece of media. Much of the theme is very dark, borderline the Satanic (which makes it a brilliant tool for scaring of Jehovah's Witness) with brilliantly unpredictable harmony that just somehow works, almost in a tonal sense. There is a slightly faster section towards the large climatic chorus, which I suppose represents the rush and excitement of being an indestructible daemonic force, decapitating Mafia gunman, and sending Gatlin-gun-wielding gremlins to fuck shit up further.

If you do own a PS3 still, I would recommend you playing this game and its sequel. That being said, despite being incredibly more violent and faster than it's predecessor, it does not have the same sinister tone and you may be a tad disappointed with the ending like I was.


An Introduction To #TuneTuesday

Jack Le Breton

Hello, my fellow Ember Members! I hope you are doing well wherever you all are.

For those of you who are unaware, my name is Jack Le Breton. I am a composer, most known for composing some of the music for the award-winning, BAFTA-nominated game 'Two Point Hospital', which was released 31st August 2018. I also did the music for an indie game 'Hartacon Tactics' which released 1st January 2019. Hopefully, I can add more to this soon!

But I digress. If you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that every Tuesday, I discuss in great length about a piece of music that I like, be it for an anime, film, TV show or, most usually, a video game.

'Why do I do this?' you may ask yourself. As a composer and a creative individual, I think it is often very easy for those who are neither of these to not appreciate the thought processes behind these things. I don't think this is deliberate, but I do think this should change, hence the creation of #TuneTuesday

So, I wish to bring my celebrated weekly dose of music here, where I am not restricted by Twitter's character restrictions. To get you started, you can find the vast majority of my #TuneTuesday moments on my Twitter. The ones you won't find are 'The Path of Wind' from 'My Neighbour Totoro' and 'Insane Family' from 'Vampyr' as Twitter's new look has prevented me from any more to a year's worth of moments. Thanks, Twitter 🙃

I hope you will all enjoy my weekly info dump on music and have fun learning and appreciating some good ol' music. 😁 

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