The Music of Bastion

Bastion won our Soundtrack of the Year in 2011 with good reason. Here, composer Darren Korb outlines the work behind his personal favourites from the soundtrack, which is available as a a 22-track album.

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3. In Case of Trouble

This was one of the first pieces I wrote for Bastion. It was really helpful in defining exactly what kind of tone I wanted the music to convey. It has all the elements of the "Acoustic Frontier Trip-hop" thing that would become the genre that helped guide my efforts for the rest of the project. My assignment was essentially to "write some town music" keeping in mind the Cormac McCarthy-does-fantasy tone and this is what I came up with.


6. Twisted Streets

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This piece started out as an experiment I did for a mini-game concept we had early on that never made it into the game. The piece is one of the more straightforward pieces on the soundtrack, but when I revised the piece later to mesh better with the tone of the rest of the music, I added the super lazy sampled beats under the march feel to give it a "twisted" vibe!

7. Terminal March

This is one of a few pieces that I wrote with a "Byzantine" feel in mind (the others being The Sole Regret and Percy's Escape). This sort of serves as our "boss music" in Bastion and is probably used more times than any other piece in the game (except for "In Case of Trouble," which serves as our town music). Interestingly enough, most other pieces in the game have some live guitar in them, but this one does not. I tried to create a lot of tension in this piece by using dissonant orchestral stabs as well as crazy distorted Chinese gamelan instruments.

10. Mine, Windbag, Mine

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This is an incarnation of the very first musical experiment I did for the game, before I had nailed down the genre of music I wanted to focus on. Originally it was a much longer piece that was more Flaming Lips-esque with even more prominent synths and trippier guitars. Once I had established the sound of the game, I went back and toned down some of the weirder elements and added the "mining" sounds to the percussion. I actually use hammer and pickaxe sounds in the rhythm section for this one.

12. Build That Wall (Zia's Theme)

This was the first vocal piece I wrote for the game and in many ways was the most crucial. The moment when you meet Zia was something we had discussed for a while, and one of my creative goals was to try and incorporate original songs into the game in a meaningful way, so it was important to me that this song strike the right emotional chord. Greg had written a ton of backstory about the game world and the characters that I was able to use to inform the lyrics of the song. I wanted to make it believable that this song could actually exist in the world of the game, adding to player immersion. Most other songs I had seen in games had done a bit of 4th-wall-breaking, which I wanted to avoid.

13. Spike in a Rail

For the "wilds" section of the game where this song occurs, we decided to go more in the frontiersy direction with the music. This particular track is probably the most extreme example of that. The main riff is doubled acoustic guitar and banjo. Over the top of that I played some nasty slide guitar. To prevent the sound from being placed too squarely in the bayou, and to tie it back to the rest of the music in the game, I incorporated some sampled rhythmic trip-hop elements.


16. The Mancer's Dilemma

I wanted to include this track here because I had a lot of fun making it! Specifically, the section that occurs at around one minute in, where the rhythm completely changes fee,l was what tickled my fancy. The first time I tried the mismatched rhythm part here I made the "stink" face and thought, "that is delightfully nasty!

18. Pale Watchers

This track is from the the final section of the game, which I wanted to feel a bit more other-worldly than the rest of the music. It prominently features a distorted ukulele (I was happy I found a way to include that!). On top of that I put some deep fuzzy bass for good measure.

21. Setting Sail, Coming Home (End Theme)
I spent a lot of time dreaming up this track. I knew I wanted to present a couple different, seemingly unrelated themes throughout the game and then bring them together at the end. I wrote Build That Wall and Mother, I'm Here with that in mind. The music for all of these is based on the piece that I wrote for the Bastion launch trailer, which I liked too much not to reuse somehow.

The Bastion album is available now as a digital download on iTunes and as a physical release from Super Giant's own web store.

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