1. “5.00am” – Raphaelle Thibaut. This piano-led piece opens almost ambiently due to the otherworldly, glowing pad synths that make their way around and through the gentle piano work. The track opens up into an almost Sigur Ros-ian culmination, with multiple string parts bursting into the arrangement in a triumphant manner. The whole piece does feel like the moments just as the sun is rising, as the darkness recedes and the rays break over the horizon. An incredible work. Highly recommended.
2. “Another World” – firosuke. This long, flowing solo piano piece seems to explore a wide, unknown space–a spacious underground cavern, a deep forest, or a castle. There’s all manner of small moments in the piece that strike different moods and tones, just as the internal excitement of exploring can sometimes give way to monotony–until a huge moment of external action. Very narrative, but not a soundtrack piece–this work has its own internal logic and is not handmaiden to other visual action. A distinct, interesting work.
3. “Intro (“Paradisum”)” – Dubbini. Big organ, gothic bell-hits, orchestral grounding, thick choral vocals, medieval-chant-style vocals, woodwinds, and more create a fantastically complex and evocative piece of composed music. This sort of high-drama, mysterious, powerful work is why video game designers sometime in the last 25 years were like, “OH MAN we could use CLASSICAL MUSIC and it would be GREAT!”
4. “Murmurations” – Michael Perera. Wave after wave of speedily cascading piano notes coalesce into a mesmerizing flow, like staring at a rapidly moving creek. Connections to mid-century minimalist composition techniques are tempered by a melodic sensibility that calls to mind Carly Comando. An excellent composition.
5. “Adrift” – Jesse Brown. This brief, low-key piano track balances traditional solo piano introspection with an unusually bluesy streak. It’s cool, calm, and collected–an unusual (and unusually interesting) effort in the genre.
6. “Swim Safety” – Legumina. Glitchy yet still dreamy, this instrumental track sidles its way up next to you and slowly starts dancing sinuously. It’s got trip-hop cool without having the trip-hop rhythmic identifiers.
7. “Reminisce” – Jabbar. Lo-fi instrumental hip-hop that sounds strongly influenced by dungeon crawling video game soundtracks. Artsy and intriguing, yet still danceable.
8. “Letters from India” – Kevin Cryderman. Adventurous, high-intensity acoustic guitar work is the centerpiece of this folk tune. Cryderman’s voice is strong and the melodies are memorable, but it’s the various sections of intriguing solo acoustic guitar work that really set this track apart.