First of all, I would like to extend my best holiday wishes to each and every one of my readers! Your support has been truly inspirational, and I thank you all for it. I hope that all of you had a very Merry Christmas! As a holiday treat, today I would like to present you with one of the most musically unique albums that I have encountered in the past year. Let no one say that Rich Vreeland, also known as Disasterpeace, does not have a distinctive sound. He is the mastermind behind Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, an album that combines the glitchy wonder of retro video game music with the musical complexity of progressive rock. Well, that’s certainly an interesting twist. If a band like Seventh Wonder or Dream Theater had decided to write electronic-based music for an 80s adventure game, this might have been the result. Let’s take a closer look!
This music represents a bit of an indulgence for me. Those of you that follow this blog regularly have probably realized by now that I am a big fan of progressive rock. It is the genre that I grew up with, and it will definitely always hold a special influence in my musical endeavors. I am also a passionate video game music enthusiast. The world of video games is the perfect theater for compositional experimentation. Different moods can be created for different scenarios in the game, characters can each be assigned their own musical themes, and dramatic interpretation is an omnipresent element. There is so much inspiration that can be drawn from various components of a game, and composers use this inspiration to create a sonic world that helps the game take on a whole new life.
Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar is comparable to the complete soundtrack of a video game in many ways. Listened to from start to finish, it essentially paints an aural picture in your mind of a mystical journey much like any of the classic games we have come to love. All of the major plot devices can be heard in the music. From the dark beginning to the triumphant overture, the presence of spiritual guidance to the solemn undertaking of a quest, this album tells a story like no other.
Disasterpeace’s work certainly stands out as a cool concept, yet it also packs a load of impressive musical technique to back that concept up. Not only does Vreeland show tremendous prowess in capturing highly emotional moods and fantastical imagery through his music, but he also kicks up the heat by delving into his large bag of polyrhythms, funky rock beats, and hoppin’ electronica grooves. I absolutely love how all of the instruments that he uses have separate parts – all of them intricate, yet seamlessly intertwined with each other. His music does not adhere to the standard “melody-chord progression-drum beat” template. Instead, there may be three or four riffs going on at the same time, with spacey synth taking the melody and the drums and bass underlining the section with an unexpected rhythm. This is something to be greatly admired, as it is extremely hard to pull off without muddying up the mix (something for which I can personally account).
Some songs on the album, such as “Adrift,” are perhaps not meant to be viewed as standalone songs, however they serve as perfect transitions that perfectly recall iconic moments from any video game aficionado’s past. “Beta’s Brilliancy,” for example, is a brilliant use of glitchy noise to accentuate a solemn moment in the archetypal video game, bringing to mind stormy nights and significant revelations. On the other side of the spectrum, songs like “The New Formation” and “Wagering Lights” celebrate the more energetic side of music with catchy drum grooves and jazzy chord progressions.
As an overall album, Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar is a true masterpiece, both as a sonic experience and as the telling of a brilliant story. The music is amazing, yes, but is all one of the most original albums that I have heard in a long time. Disasterpeace has done a phenomenal job of establishing a truly unique style in an industry where copycats are a dime a dozen. Thus, he has my sincere congratulations and gratitude, not just for forty-five minutes of music, but for a glimpse into the remarkable world of his visionary creative mind. I would highly recommend this album for anyone.