Monday, 8 June 2020

Frank Klepacki "Command & Conquer Remastered Soundtrack" (2020)

The remastering of Westwood Studio's classic Command & Conquer games is such a great excuse to write about the fantastic soundtrack that accompanied it. Reflecting on the twenty five years since I played this MSDOS game as a kid shines a light how inadvertently it may have shaped my musical taste. The game's sole musician Frank Klepacki took the emerging Industrial Metal sound of the 90s and forged it into a beautifully atmospheric and mood altering layer of the experience that transcended the immersive world of role play strategy and control over militarized units. Some years after initially playing these games I yearned to hear the music again and tinkering with tools obtained from the internet I was able to to extract the audio from all the games and their expansion packs and burning them onto audio CDs. From then and till this day I routinely enjoy them, they are simply timeless!

This remastered collection reproduces everything with a far greater audio fidelity given there were media limitations in the 90s that led to compressed 22hrz audio. These remastered songs have more clarity and depth in sound, without much in the way of compromise. Textures and quieter instruments become more visible and perk the ears with more details to notice but nothing was ever holding these songs from getting their point across. Its a delight to have the songs updated for further listening pleasure but It also comes with extras, outtakes and few missing remixes from the Playstation's Red Alert Retaliation port which I never got my hands on... until now!

Frank's music is relatively diverse, although their are surges of distortion guitar driven tracks with rocking drum grooves, the songs between calve focused atmospheres fit for the high stakes of the game. Edge and suspense is often present, never wandering into darkness or paranoia. Its electronic instruments forge both the calmer songs and upheavals of energy with plenty of 90s electronica music influence on its percussion and a fair helping of that janky stitching of sounds ever present in 80s Industrial. With Red Alert the soundtrack definitely pivots more into the electronic realm with more aggressive synths leading the way in its punchier tracks however the Metal guitar makes its legendary mark with the anthemic Hell March. The marching of feet, the creeping baseline, exploding into a fiery storm of metallic guitar, wonderful!

I'll be giving this one a ten simply to signify how much this music as a whole means to me, that also includes Red Alert 2 and Tiberian Sun too! As for the remastering, I've listened with intent ears and It doesn't seem like anything much has been tinkered or altered for restoration. Some of the reverbs become very obvious with more cavernous depth but skipping back to the originals you can hear they were there all along! That early childhood "nostalgia" is strong, the bonds formed here have been endlessly fascinating to me and always manages to take me to a good place. I am forever thankful for Frank's wonderful music and its been such a delight to see the remaster project acknowledge the music too! Will hopefully find time to play the game a little too before long.

Rating: 10/10