It’s a story of time, energy and mass dancing together. And their dance either creates or destroys everything. Once they move slowly, then they get faster with quick little steps. The tempo is set by jazz music and the faces are black and white like the faces of a noir film’s audience in the cinema were back in the 1950s’. An individual story about love is a story of the entire universe and it reminds us that love is a feeling shared by all creatures regardless of any made-up hierarchy, size or status. And this feeling also creates and destroys.
Jazz is a very clever choice here.
The story is pretty long since there are 28 tracks on the Genesis Noir soundtrack — all jazzy, all made by not-really-jazz band Skillbard, all incredibly well composed and performed. Jazz is a very clever choice here. Each generation needs to describe the same things with its own way – we don’t live in a world the people lived several dozen years ago, it’s forever gone, but still there are things that weave out and in again on the timeline. It’s true to fashion and to music as well, in this case jazz music.
Skillbard are one of these artists who prove that the statement “jazz is dead” that paradoxically appears in the two most recent film monuments of jazz, Whiplash and La La Land, is not strictly true. In fact, jazz is just different from what it was in its African-American origins with social revolution in the background and it’s different from the sophisticated nishe for audiophiles as it was considered in some period later. Now, according to Spotify, 40% of jazz listeners on the platform are people under 30 and the group’s been rising since 2016. Jazzy sounds have been blended into other styles for a long time, in the likes of rock (the Doors), pop (David Bowie) or hip-hop.
So aren’t Skillbard afraid of playing around with jazz. The band’s members have a large experience of creating various types of music for advertisements, animations and games, but Genesis Noir is their first project based mostly on jazz — although, the soundtrack sounds like they’ve written jazz for years. Also, it was performed by plenty of great musicians like a jazz band, a string orchestra, a female choir along with several vocalists and a shakuhachi soloist. Really impressive team as for Genesis Noir being considered as an indie game after all).
However, once the mood is set by the first jazz songs on the list, Skillbard take us on a trip over their vast inspirations or references that orbit around the jazzy core. Thus we can hear orchestral film scores mixed with electronic (Pioneer Convoy), synths (Tetrachromacy), the 80’s vibes (You Look At Me), rock opera (Siren Birth) or almost 8-bit-stylings (Marsmalade). There are songs purely inspired by asian folk music (Kintsugi, Itsuki No Komoriuta) and some that resemble Frank Sinatra (Alone). The diversity is really impressive, but the album never forgets its noir roots and it goes back to them frequently.
Everything lingers with large reverbs thus it seems to be like a lantern’s light in the darkness.
There are also some special species chunked in the jazzy pot to connect tight noir scenes with the space of the universe. For example deliberate, lonely tenor sax or trumpet spinning a tale are suspended in the space of acoustic instruments and soft electronic sounds. Everything lingers with large reverbs thus it seems to be like a lantern’s light in the darkness of a street (Primordial Longing). The same happens to vocal solos (Mélodie Fatale with Kitty Whitelaw’s amazing voice’s range). All in all sound effects are important bricks while building the atmosphere of either rooms (audience in the smoky Constant Club) or space (original recordings of Apollo 11’s crew’s voices).
Skillbard’s masterpiece has a beautiful and elegant yet mostly organic vibe appropriate for both detective noir films and a story about the origins of our world. It uses jazz music as a brace that ties the whole album together. It seems to be particularly brilliant at night and it could sound great during live performances — it’s jazz after all. I won’t be surprised if the upcoming months will bring Skillbard a lot of game music nominations and awards.