Music is an incredibly important part of the way we see games. It can add levity to a tense situation or creativity to a normal one. It has the power to engross you or the ability to gross you out. A gaming soundtrack is more dynamic and grounding than a soundtrack in any other medium, and that sense of now is what makes them just so charming.
In Game Grooves, we explore the physical medium of gaming soundtracks by analyzing the vinyl/tape/CD itself and use that as a device to really engage with their ideas. From analyzing themes to techniques, meaning to subtext, dissecting their music becomes a part of analyzing the games themselves.
Game Grooves is a regular column dedicated to gaming soundtracks and how they manifest in physical medium. What does the experience add and why should they do it in the first place? These are just a handful of the questions we seek to answer.
Untitled Goose Game Vinyl - What Makes It Special?
Untitled Goose Game offered a strikingly different experience on release in 2019, and the Untitled Goose Game vinyl follows its footsteps. The vinyl from IAm8Bit stands out immediately, even before you purchase. There’s a nostalgic, self-aware love of small town life with the minimalism of Untitled Goose Game. Although it's focused on chaos, the setting itself is very pretty. That chaos is always pointed humorously at the townsfolk, rarely at the town itself.
The Untitled Goose Game vinyl is made from reclaimed Vinyl grind, meaning the pattern you get will be entirely random. I received an almost clear white vinyl with a few small splatters on it. That imperfection makes it unique and very displayable. There’s something nice knowing that I, among many others, have a unique rendition of the soundtrack. This uniqueness is something that is so clear almost immediately. The packaging itself is also eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled material. Alongside this, donations are made to offset energy costs associated with production. The game itself follows the same procedures with some nice eco-friendly packaging. You can find our unboxing of both right here.
If it wasn’t clear from all that, there’s real love at the heart of the Untitled Goose Game vinyl, and the “double groove” system is part of that. Essentially, there are two grooves the needle can hit when placing the vinyl down on your turntable. This means the way it plays the music is random. Sometimes, it works one way. Sometimes, it works the other way. There’s an inherent chaos to Untitled Goose Game that this vinyl captures so well. If you really want a consistent listen to the soundtrack, you’re better off listening to the CD, but this function is a lovely little idea that truly makes the vinyl special.
There has clearly been a lot of work put into this, but there would have to be with how strange the soundtrack is itself. Musician Dan Golding created this soundtrack from Claude Debussy’s work by cutting and chopping together hundreds of stems that play randomly throughout the game. One could argue the music itself is an eco-friendly way of looking at music as a whole. It’s almost akin to the art of sampling and comes off as strange, ethereal, and oddly pretty underneath it all.
The actual experience of listening to the Untitled Goose Game vinyl is an interesting one. The broken strands of Debussy come together to form real, if hectic, songs that you can recognize and even hum along to. If you’ve heard the soundtrack on Spotify, you’re getting what you expect to some degree. This being said, the uncertainty of that double groove feature adds a little something extra when you listen live.
It clashes tranquil piano pieces with a slightly more dynamic range, often providing a form of humorous nostalgia. It brings together motifs and ideas you may be familiar with and flips them on their head. You often get into the groove of what's playing only for it to entirely switch tempo and key. While you control the goose, the music is often what it’s like being the NPCs in Untitled Goose Game. The world around you is familiar and tranquil until a goose comes honking by. It’s a strange occurrence but nothing that out of the ordinary. That’s until he comes running back, stealing your glasses and dignity with him, leaving you spinning, wishing you could hear the start again. This infectious longing for tranquility has you pick up the Untitled Goose Game vinyl and play it all over again.
This mimics the way Untitled Goose Game itself works. Its gameplay is simple, and its story is nonexistent. Yet there’s something that keeps you playing: that sense of mischief. The ability to change the mundane. Life is a strange experience with equal amounts of wonder and boredom. Sometimes, when life is slow, all it takes is a goose to add that wonder back in.
Although I’ve used this word a lot, it's hard to deny just how unique Untitled Goose Game feels, and the vinyl picks this up so well. It’s often quite chaotic in presentation and won't be everyone’s cup of British tea, but I’ve loved the micro chaos that brilliant blue packaging has brought to my vinyl collection.