DVA Botanicula [soundtrack]

[Minority; 2012]

Styles: beats, life; no rhymes
Others: Tomas Dvorak, Blithe Field, Oh Astro, His Name Is Alive, Broadcast

As I resign myself to shelving what came out in 2012 that I haven’t gotten to already, I know what I must do: Hip you to the soundtrack to Botanicula by DVA (Bára Kratochvílová and Jan Kratochvíl), an artful edition that presents yet another argument for releasing video game music on proper formats sooner rather than later. It’s a stunning collection that never stops punching; seeing that I don’t have time for video games anyway, it makes sense that the opportunity to hear DVA shouldn’t be relegated to the small screen, especially considering the popularity of classic movie-soundtrack reissues these days (Finders Keepers, Mondo, etc.). That said, I’m not above debating the topic so talk amongst yaselves…

Much like the also-deft Tomáš Dvořák on the Minority imprint, DVA’s music, for the most part, is vivid, vibrant, and just-plain fun, chartering the listener to all sorts of aural terrain with imaginative bleep/bloop (it’s amazing how much I have to use this descriptor), cut-up samples, cheesy synth leads, all manner of chopsticks-on-coffee-can percussive touches, and a glut of instruments including bass clarinet, saxophone, melodica, wind “midicontroler,” kitchen beat box, and a lot more. It’s interesting how they used their trade (writing soundtracks for video games) to branch out like crazy, rather than letting the constraints of composing for a visual medium limit their VAVOOOM. I can’t remember playing Cool World and hearing New Orleans “whoop-whoop”s and careening baritone tom-tom mumbo-jumbo, nor do I recall getting into the cockpit of Afterburner and hearing banjos buttressed by bells, pseudo-handclaps, vocal cues/coos, and a pounding beat.

I mentioned the cheesy synth leads; about that: There’s a slight mozzarella factor inherent in Botanicula that will turn some of you off, and there are times when it’s a little more obvious that what you’re listening to is merely accompaniment to a grander vision. I challenge you to push past it and approach the material as if it were just another sound experiment, as it holds up under those parameters. It’s a progressive vision that ruled nothing out at the drawing-board stage, perhaps for the very fact that the audience initially was video game players rather than arms-folded indiefiles. If you heard this album on Warp, you would pay attention, so give Kratochvílová and Kratochvíl that same respect. That’s all I’m askin’. That and for a mild-tasting yogurt; got one handy?

Links: DVA - Minority

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