While his former bandmate Trent Reznor has spent most of the last decade working on soundtracks, gaining awards and widespread acclaim along the way, former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck has been off the radar slightly apart from his turn in one of the many Guns N Roses line ups over the years, but has always been busy. For this album, he has turned his attention to the world of video game soundtracks and his first effort at this discipline is the companion piece to the survival horror game ”NOCT”, in collaboration with Pedro ‘Wordclock’ Pimental.
This instrumental album covers some familiar territory through its 66 minute running time, although it stays far enough away from any previous work to keep its own identity. The album is best described as a collection of dark, ambient soundscapes such as opener ‘EROS’ that really sets the mood with its slow deliberate build up, before a solitary guitar is added in ‘DASR’ adding more tension to the increasingly unsettling sound. It has the feel of one of the old instrumentals that NIN used to such great effect on ‘The Downward Spiral’ and ‘The Fragile’, although this time they are the more involved tracks rather than the oasis of calm that they appear to be on those albums.
There are other moments of this album that have a similar vibe, namely ‘NeXT’ and ‘Juno’, but it’s ‘TCAS’ that is most familiar. A much heavier, sinister industrial sample pervades through this, and it sounds like it could have been a perfect follow up to ‘Pinion’ if ‘Broken’ had been an instrumental EP. As the album draws to a close, it returns to its more minimalist, almost serene moments. It all comes to an end with the near 14 minute ‘NuSTAR’ which both rounds off the journey well and also brings you back round to the start of it again.
Whereas movie soundtracks often change pace and moods depending on the accompanying scene, video game soundtracks are more to build an atmosphere when needed, and in horror games, it is often the quietest music that builds the most tension. Although this album appears at time to be very chilled out, with the accompanying game it could easily become an eerie and unsettling experience that adds another element to the game. In that way it works well as both a standalone album and a soundtrack, might have to hunt the game down and see how well it works.