game score

Soundtrack review: Blues and bullets (Damian Sanchez – 2016)

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“Blues and bullets” is a trip through the dark alleys of a misty neighborhood full of pleasures and dangers.

“Blues and Bullets” is an episodic alt-history noir video game developed by A Crowd of Monsters. Eliot Ness (voiced by Doug Cockle) is the agent who jailed gangster Al Capone. In this new episodic game, Eliot Ness is a retired cop who runs a diner called Blues and Bullets. One day, someone tells him that Al Capone needs his help to find his kidnapped granddaughter. His former nemesis is the only man he trusts to get her back. The player will search for clues to find leads in the investigation. Clues will include mutilated body parts. Clues can be matched to witnesses. There are also shooting sections. The game’s narrative is told in monochrome with occasional tints of color. Interacting with other characters also plays a large part in the game. The score was written by Damian Sanchez.

The title theme features the vocals of Iza and even if I’m not always including vocal themes in my reviews, this one fits right in. This Portishead sounding dark ballad goes straight to my heart and I like the story it tells me. The instrumental background is subtle and melodic and the vocals create the storm. I get the chance to explore the background once the proper score starts. The main theme is right up my alley and I can see myself wanting to enter the world of the game when I hear such a misty and silky theme.

“Investigation” is a moody jazz piece that fits perfectly the noir setting of the story. It’s not too loud, not too emotional, just like an investigation cue should sound like. It’s a reflective and soothing piece of music that gives me as a listener time to soak in the mood of the score. As I listen to the alert and exciting “Capone’s mansion” I realize that if I had listened to “Blues and bullets” without knowing what it was written for I would have said thriller movie without a doubt. The music sounds almost too exciting to be part of a game, part of a setting I can influence and be part of rather than just watch.

As always I’m more drawn to the quieter, more ambient parts. “O.B” is right up my alley with its slow piano musings and soft percussion. The noir sound needs to be jazzy and I can almost see the smoke in the dark lounge where I am listening to this melody. The short rollercoaster “The guest” shows the potential of the composer and it’s a theme I would have liked to have heard more of.

What I like most about the music of “Blues and bullets” is the way different and even contrasting musical motifs and moods come together in the same cue. Every piece of music has a surprise in it and I love it. “Docks” for example is a non-stop race between             the rolling piano and the somber cello and is one of my favorite cues from the score. The theme for “Delphine” on the other hand is a quiet solo piano piece that gets to me from the first seconds.

There’s plenty to enjoy in this score. Even if you listen to it just to get a refreshed taste of noir jazz you will find much more. Just try the gorgeous and emotional “Reconstruction” which would be my pick for best cue from the score. “Blues and bullets” is a trip through the dark alleys of a misty neighborhood full of pleasures and dangers.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 39

Album excellence: 61%

Highlights:

Blues And Bullets feat. Izä

Main Theme

Investigation

O.B.

Delphine

Nikolai Ivankov

Reconstruction

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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