Kentucky Route Zero Unique Soundtrack Music Evaluation

Kentucky Route Zero’s wispy daydreams flicker with black and white fragments echoed by way of time. There’s a rhythm and a logic to the acclaimed sport, however it doesn’t fairly adhere to our spacetime continuum as our collective actuality is refracted by way of prisms to the purpose of solely faint recognition. Signposts fade away and we’re all left with sweeping gestures and abstractions of feelings and visceral noise, and oh, is the noise grand.

The immense soundtrack unfolds in keeping with the sport’s 5 acts, within the order through which every episode debuted, and subsequently has a way of conventional construction. However that anchor shortly dissipates into the ether as ambient noise makes means for down-south reward with the iconography of God in heaven, all earlier than morphing again into subdued sonic fractals. There aren’t any demarcated boundaries between regional custom and artwork toying with the sides of existence on this assortment of songs. 

The instrumental intonations of composer Ben Babbitt are actually gorgeous all through Kentucky Route Zero. At occasions intimate and at different occasions sweeping in scope, Babbitt encapsulates the moments of inward-facing reflection alongside the drama of protagonist Conway’s journey. Album opener “The Stars Drop Away” is a dewy, delicate meditation with an otherworldly cadence. It affords boundless potential that’s echoed on tracks like “Julian” the place ethereal keys are held tight, unrelenting of their acceleration towards eternity. Songs like “5 Dogwood Drive” make for ambient daydreams, unearthing undercurrents of pure catharsis, whereas others like “To Love a Crimson Moon” are nostalgic for a second past reminiscence. A lot of the work right here is concurrently celestial and subtly private, present in an eternal duality of as above, so beneath. 

There’s additionally drama, depressive tendencies, and sprinklings of stress in Kentucky Route Zero’s soundtrack. Enter the sonic foil of spectacles like “Xanadu” the place hair-raising synths invite a sensation of overwhelming, inescapable dread. Different cuts like “Angel Wings” personify the grey cloud of a psychological lethargy that drags down each the physique and thoughts, whereas “The Arrival” has a harsh resonance to its mystifying atmospherics. These inflections all through Kentucky Route Zero make for an intense reminder that this world isn’t simply an idyllic daydream, however an exploration of all features of the psyche. Feelings are fluid and can inevitably, at occasions, settle into the unsettling.

All through the tracklist, the fictional people band taking part in actual people traditionals offers the Kentucky Route Zero soundtrack a way of place that’s in any other case misplaced to a logic-defying aircraft. “What Would You Give” serves up country-fried questions on eternity as The Bedquilt Ramblers vocalist Emily Cross asks, “Oh, if at present God ought to name you away/What would you give in change to your soul?” Later within the soundtrack, “This World Is Not My House” finds The Bedquilt Ramblers crying out, “If heaven’s not my house, oh Lord, what ought to I do?” and I’m undecided if there’s any logical response to any of the Ramblers’ questions. Peering into Kentucky Route Zero’s void constantly conjures extra inquiries than solutions. People have spent millennia on the God query and a conclusion doesn’t appear a lot nearer than after we began.

Trying on the two seemingly opposing sides of the Kentucky Route Zero soundtrack — the grand, unvoiced swells of cuts like “Ghosts within the Static,” and the hymns of these like “You’ve Bought to Stroll” — are they so completely different? When the latter proclaims, “You’ve bought to stroll that lonesome valley/You’ve bought to stroll it by your self,” the loaded iconography conjures up the identical emotions as its instrumental predecessor. Even with companions, on this planet of Kentucky Route Zero, Conway is decidedly on an remoted path, lyrical implications or not. 

This brings me to the primary individual, as a result of I’d like to finish with an anecdote on how the soundtrack deepened my appreciation for Kentucky Route Zero. Throughout my first playthrough, I believed lots about Conway’s succumbing to alcohol later within the sport and the way its implied inevitability deeply bothered me. Will we not have a selection? Even because the world crumbles round us, isn’t there one other means out in addition to the bottle? This conclusion was certainly distressing and even made me put down the sport for a interval, however as I listened to the soundtrack, I couldn’t cease enthusiastic about these lyrics of “You’ve Bought to Stroll” — particularly “that lonesome valley” — and the subtext they imbue the sport with. Somebody as soon as mentioned the alternative of dependancy is connection, and when alcohol comes calling for Conway in Act V, there’s nothing stopping him from a drink. On this mystifying suspension between dream and actuality, because the Bedquilt Ramblers proclaim, he’s strolling that lonesome valley alone.


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