Film scores

Soundtrack review: TouchFish volume 1 (Chris Huelsbeck – 2015)

“Touchfish” is a very popular iOS game where you get to build and maintain a virtual aquarium. The graphics for the game looks spectacular even if I am not into this kind of inventions. I prefer real life pets if it comes to that. Surprisingly I was not familiar with composer Chris Huelsbeck until not and from what I read, I should have been. A German video game composer who started working in the 80 and wrote music for AMIGA games? Yes please! There are three volumes of the Touchfish score and this is the first one.

I am ready to bathe in nostalgia. Of course it’s not a bath as much as some sprinkles because this is not an 1980s game, it’s a modern on for modern phones with state of the art graphics so the composer had to bring his sound into the modern age. Still the shadow of the synth is there and I slowly immerse myself in the calm and familiar sound.

In real life aquariums are often used as a method of relaxation. I think most people buy them so they could look at the water, plants and fish and just phase out the outside world. The music of “Touchfish” does exactly that for me. I could also associate it with a lava lamp; it has the same effect. Chris Huelsbeck finds the perfect balance between nostalgic and relaxing. His music is soft as water and warm enough to make sure I feel no discomfort.

For someone like me who has no better sanctuary than 80s electronic music the vibes of this retro score take me to my happy place. Yes the music is nothing more than background and doesn’t do anything to grab me or move me but there’s no need for that. I just enjoy drifting in this bliss, relaxed, eyes closed and feeling very safe. The music is calm and quite minimalistic. It could work for a spa; maybe not for the most relaxing rooms but for some activities for sure.

For me the retro vibe which takes me back to countless hours of playing games in my room and to the music of my childhood is enough to guarantee that I will love this score and return to it in the moments when I will feel the need. I can imagine listening to this score with my baby daughter while watching her play. It’s that kind of composition. Off to the next volumes..

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 13 / 26

Album excellence: 50%

Highlights:

Theme (from TouchFish)

Watching All The Fishes

The Big Chill

Underwater Sun Rays

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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