Listen and download:
Soundtrack to a VVVVVV map. It’s about bad art and why you should make it.
- Bumper: Goofy-ass intro. It was important to create a unique distorted texture, like everything’s coming out of a busted speaker, to loudly (or rather, particularly quietly) announce that THIS ALBUM’S GOING TO SOUND SMALL. Also for the album edit I pulled in the “‘kay guys!” from “Taylor Swift” at the start to strengthen the whole album bookend thing.
- A Civil Discussion: Quirky sparse percussive stuff. I like how it starts off without any discernible rhythm, but over the course of a few bars it finds its feet. The melody is all over the place, it’s inspired by stuff like Venetian Snares’ “Traditional Synthesizer Music” and C418’s really early work like “komphund”.
- Hey fuckers: AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN it explodes into carpenter brut when the conversation goes sour. It’s the most deliberately overblown thing in the soundtrack.
- Pipe Reality: One last Pipe Dream remix to close off what I’ve suddenly decided is a trilogy (after “NO SIGNAL” on Unshackled and “Pipe Nightmare” from Overdose)
This a lot more upbeat than either of those, and represents one last look back before I try to move on from the edgy tone I used to play with. Detox is about something very different from anything I’ve made before.
- Audacious Columns: The level this plays over involves a lot of finicky shuffling towards tight spike columns. The “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball”-style echoes represent the progressively faster keypresses required to accomplish this. This is also where the album transitions from goofy to stressful, as the conflict emerges and isn’t yet resolved.
- A Real Character: This is definitely the most off-putting track. I put a random glitch effect on the master, and it basically fucks everything up. It’s in 5/4 but half the time it’s subdivided weirdly so it sounds like 2/4 with fivelets? So that makes it even more off-kilter. For the climax I use a certain soundfont that’s relevant to the text but still makes me feel dirty.
- Abstract Arty Shit: This track wasn’t originally planned to exist, but the ending of Chapter 3 turned out to be a little too subdued for “A Real Character”’s frenetic energy to fit so I whipped up a quick ambient piece. It’s based on a motif from the intro of “Audacious Columns”, for some reason.
- Tearing Down the Stronghold: This is the tensest moment in the level and the album. The bass goes through automation cycles of sloooowly getting more and more distorted, until it explodes and the cycle repeats. The sparse square bits in the second half of the track are partially based on the melody of “The Inner Stronghold” from Unshackled, where Chapter 4 takes place.
- I made this.: Finally you can relax a little! But only a little for now. This plays just after the big revelation that effectively concludes the main plot. The big drums are fun, but it has a melancholy air and the weird reverse pads still deny you full catharsis for just a little longer.
- I Can See You Perfectly: This track opens with a sample from a youtube playthrough of an infamous level called “VXVXVX”. But then magical stuff happens and the tension finally drains away, which I was about to describe and explain but it kinda speaks for itself.
This is the first track I’ve released where I actually properly sing on it! All it took was a level where it’s thematically appropriate even (or especially) if I’m way out of tune and have no technique. Thanks, art!
The lyrics are a bit too dry and literal, but I think the fact that I’m singing at all is really more important in this case than the specific words.
- A Manifesto: Plays over the epilogue, and brings back the 10-note motif from “Bumper”. At this point we’re entirely out of the woods in full happy ending mode.
- Make Your Worst: It’s the big finish! This is mastered louder and has more high frequencies than the rest of the album, just going all-in. Definitely the most “lecturing you about art while flying past on a unicorn that shits out rainbows” track I’ve ever made.
- Taylor Swift (by Eric Taxxon): I didn’t make this, Eric Taxxon did. He’s super permissive about other people using his work (like, literally a copyright abolitionist) and I thought it’d fit really well for the title screen.
The tricky bit about VVVVVV level title themes is that they play both before AND after you play the level, and you can’t change it. So it’s difficult to come up with something that fits both before and after experiencing the work. For Unshackled, Victoria’s Gift, and Summer Spooktacular, I just wrote generic pieces that could basically work in any vaguely level-appropriate situation (the last one is literally just ambience).
The clever thing to do, though, would be to have a track that’s emotive but re-contextualized by the level, which is what I tried to do here. Eric’s track has a lot of samples from some kid playing Taylor Swift covers on youtube. Before the level it just seems like a meme, but afterwards you realize that it ties in perfectly with its themes about amateur art. At least I think so.
In any case I’m pretty sure I’m the first person to sample Punk who isn’t trying to passive-aggressively argue with Eric about copyright, so that’s cool.