Music for a VVVVVV custom level, which you can find here:

It’s a spooky non-linear exploration thing.

  1. The Cradle’s Entrance: Yume Nikki was the main blueprint for this project, which extends to the music. That game has lots of atmospheric tracks, but crucially, they’re all extremely short. This results in a mind-numbing repetition that goes well with the endless, confusing dreamscapes. VVVVVV doesn’t allow for quite the same sense of scale, but my map is still confusing and largely empty. Although the album versions are extended to 1 minute each, the in-game versions of my tracks are all just a few seconds long.

    This loop plays in the first proper area that acts as a hub for the others, so it’s mostly interested in setting a general mood.
  2. Blinding Tunnel: A crunchy glitchy sample is manipulated with reverb added, representing both the weird tiles and the large scale of the shafts where this loop plays. The use of stereo spices things up too.
  3. Underground Space: Melodic stuff like this is rare because it doesn’t work as well in very short loops; I get away with it this time because it’s not an area the player will likely spend too much time in. The square wave sort of alludes to echoing off the cavern walls.
  4. Red Tendrils: Loud noisy loop made by distorting a few triangle waves to hell. The quiet squealing is just a bitcrusher. I’m happy with how dynamic it sounds despite being made with basic waveforms.
  5. Lost Grid: Dissonant tone inspired by American emergency TV broadcasts. Imagine Spider-Man dancing to this.
  6. Bubblegum Wasteland: Simple electric piano riff. It’s EQ’d to emphasize the high tinkly overtones, which gives the listener more interesting stuff to focus on.
  7. Four Belfries: The bell towers are the least abstract area in the level, so it made sense to represent the bells literally using tubular bells. You could maybe interpret it as diegetic; there’s even 4 notes to correspond with the 4 bells! Bitcrushing helps make it feel more in line with the more synthetic elements of the other tracks, though.
  8. Checker Loops: At a whopping 1 second, this is tied with Lost Grid for the shortest loop in the level. Despite this, there’s enough stuff going on at different frequencies to keep the listener busy noticing stuff for a little longer.
  9. Abandoned Station: This loop feels very peaceful. Metallic percussion imitates the sound of wheels going over grooves. However, there’s something weird going on with the stereo panning of the sound. In reality you’d expect it to go left-right left-right, or right-left right-left, but here it goes left-right right-left. So although the sound alludes to the idea of transportation, there is no implied direction of movement.
  10. Familiar Vessel: In the world, the player can find a version of the ship from the main game, but it’s distorted and no one is inside. The loop sounds like a ringtone, but nobody’s going to pick up.
  11. Radar Canopy: A lot of these loops are disturbing and/or minimal, so it was nice to make a really full, rich-sounding, and uplifting ambient loop. It was made by distorting samples of real cellos from Spitfire LABS.
  12. The Cradle: A basic principle of horror soundtracks is that having a very low tone and a very high tone playing simultaneously with nothing in the middle is really spooky for some reason. It seemed right to do that for the climactic final area.
  13. Growing Away: At the climax of the level, I cut loose and hit the player with a very shrill, uncomfortable harsh noise track. Though if you look at the waveform, you’ll see there’s still a lot of headroom. That wasn’t originally going to be the case, but I still have some sense of mercy.
  14. Levelmaking Sins: Sparse drone used on the title screen. Works for both beginning to set the mood and for coming down after the ending.