That was 20 years ago when Marcus Lehto and Bungie developing team started to make Halo. Originally, it supposed to be a reliable RTS. In the end, they made one of the most iconic shooters in history. Sometimes you shouldn’t step into the same river twice yet well everywhere but at home the best. Hence, when Lehto founded his own video game studio, V1 Interactive, and started working on an idea of their first game, he was still impacted by the projects from the past.
Purely the music must have been a mix of symphony and electronic.
At first, Disintegration had a spirit of Myth: The Fallen Lords, whilst Lehto was looking for dynamism and action. And that’s easier to get with the first- or third-person camera. So, what had happened to Halo, did to Disintegration as well – it changed from RTS to the shooter. And since it was a futuristic-world game, and a relative of Halo series, purely the music must have been a mix of symphony and electronic.
I really enjoy absorbing as much about the game-world as possible, I’m a very character-driven composer. One of my favourite things about the process is to sit and listen to creative directors, devs, and artists to talk about the world they’re creating (…) – Jon Everist
There was a royal road to Jon Everist who has always liked such combinations and he already had a very acclaimed BattleTech soundtrack to his name back then (in 2018 Game Music readers awarded it as the best soundtrack of the year). How far from BattleTech is to Disintegration?
From the direction of production – not so far. In a sense, according to Everist’s words, the recording process was realized a bit on a shoestring. That’s why neither LA’s nor London’s symphony orchestra took part in the project. The composer flew to the capital of Hungary only to make Budapest Scoring Orchestra record his music. They had collaborated together before – in working on BattleTech soundtrack. That’s the economical counterpart that many might envy since BSO is the top shelf of world musicians. They have, for instance, oscar-winning Parasite or Get Out to their names and The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind or The Settlers Online as well.
A live orchestra gives a composer a great scope and Everist made the best of it. He built most of his compositions very carefully using a variety of dynamic and instrument articulations. It’s well-heard in Lock And Load. Sometimes one may even get the impression it’s a movie score, not a game one.
Jack and I also work very closely together to make sure that the audio experience is cohesive and feeds off of each other rather than compete for space. Sometimes music needs the foreground, and sometimes music needs to just shut up – Jon Everist
There are lots of symphonic flavours, but they’re not art for art’s sake – everything is on the right place to tell the story. For instance, Everist points out that he used the growing dynamics in Main Theme to show a fragility of human’s soul (piano solo) that gets unlimited power and potential only together with the rest of humanity (sometimes a bit pompous crescendo played by the whole orchestra). Thereby, he presents the most important attribute of resistance describing it with a really good melody.
Disintegration is one of those soundtracks that combine different layers together. Appropriative, well-made atmosphere (Costa Nueva); great dynamic changes (The Iron Cloud) and a few catchy melodies. It’s very on-brand for Jon Everist who talked about it with us during one of the interviews while still working on the game. In terms of melodies, I would favour Old Meg and especially Romer’s Theme – its first part remains me The Witcher 3.
Jon Everist added a huge dose of freshness to the “cosmic symphonies” area.
In general, the music for Disintegration has a film music nature. Perhaps, some fragments would do even John Williams proud while writing his score for Star Wars. Actually, Jon Everist added a huge dose of freshness to the “cosmic symphonies” area. It is a quite decent album for the fans of interesting themes made with a live orchestra and unintrusive electronic instruments.