German composers Ben Lukas Boysen and Sebastian Plano provide an appropriately sprawling and immersive score for philosophical simulation game Everything. Created by artist David O'Reilly and inspired by the musings of Alan Watts, Everything is a game about perspective and the interconnectivity of all life. With no true objective sort of being the point of it, experience is paramount to the game (which made history when its award-winning 11-minute trailer made it the first videogame eligible for an Oscar), and the score is an integral part of that experience.
Adept in creating stirring ambient soundscapes and evocative themes from both acoustic and electronic sources, Boysen and Plano construct a nebulous universe of sounds to support the project's lofty conceit. These texturally rich pieces can sound discomfitingly massive one minute and excruciatingly intimate the next, sometimes achieving both effects at once through clever sonic trickery.
In its more melodic moments, some of Everything's themes recall the dramaticism of Max Richter with a bit of Hauschka's anarchistic experimentation and loads of lush ambient sound design; first-disc standout "Aalystice," in particular, is reminiscent of Feel Good Lost-era Broken Social Scene in its vivid warmth. And oh, yes: this is a double disc affair, separated into ten and 33 tracks, respectively,
The first disc is an enclosed microcosm of the bigger picture of the masterwork, sort of like the kind you can construct within the game when exploring an untethered universe starts to feel a little too lonely and you want to dwell on a somewhat more confined, or defined, experience. Alone, the first disc is a gorgeous, very comfortably listenable and well-paced collection.
The addition of the gargantuan second disc is more than welcome though, particularly for those times you're less concerned with a concise listen and are more in the mood to let the music hang and drift in the background. Its 33 tracks contain an impressive variety of emotion-stirring sounds that undoubtedly make aspects of the game even headier and sometimes quite unsettling.
However abstract and alienating an experience it can become, though, Boysen and Plano always bring back the light for patient, dedicated listeners. "You're Everything," the reward for making it all the way to the end of this epic journey and past the existential black hole of "No Where," is appropriately glorious and cathartic for a work meant to have you feel the beauty of existence after facing down its unfathomable scale. (Erased Tapes)