Death Stranding; Timefall album review

With the ‘Death Stranding’ trailers heralded as some of the most mysterious in the gaming world, RCA’s ‘Timefall’ is a suitably inscrutable soundtrack. As the long-term project of gaming mogul Hideo Kojima, the roaming epic is one of the most highly-anticipated games of all time. Set for release on the 7th of November, ‘Timefall’ brings the gameplay to aural form through eight purpose-built tracks. 
If the game’s enigmatic narrative is hard to pin down, so too is the soundtrack’s genre. Chopped with a host of international talent including Major Lazer, Khalid and CHVRCHES, the listener is left disoriented and adrenalised. These feelings become logical when you ponder the music’s inspiration: a virtual wasteland where the dead wander the world of the living.

One narrative element made clear is a binary between the connected and the disconnected. Forging a link between life and death, the game’s trailers tease us with mentions of ‘An Age of Isolation’, ‘A Disconnected Society’ and the need to ‘Unite the Divided’. This human mission statement is channelled through the album’s opener, ‘Trigger’ by Major Lazer and Khalid. With Diplo’s trademark production which so often transports us to other worlds, Khalid’s vocals usher in a pensive rallying call to unite.

The action starts with Au/Ra & Alan Walker’s ‘Ghost’ which bounces to life with orchestral strings and spectral vocals. Conveying key themes of isolation through Walker’s production and Au/Ra’s lyrics, the track paints a picture of Kojima’s ‘beached things’. CHVRCHES reshape the soundscape with their eponymous contribution, ‘Timefall’. Radiating ethereal feelings of a higher purpose, the Scottish outfit snatch the baton from Khalid to further encourage the game’s uniting mission with great positivity.

Dragging us to the disconnected side of the binary, The Neighbourhood’s ‘Yellow Box’ gives everything that a tense gamer needs to up the ante. Industrial grindings, the crackling of white noise and regretful lyrics all combine to give an unhinged and off-kilter feel. This is before Serge Pizzorno’s solo project, The SLP, brings confidence back into your bones with ‘Meanwhile…In Genoa’, its bravado bringing you back from the clutches of anxiety.

With adrenaline levels at an all-time high, Bring Me the Horizon succeed in pumping them off the scale. Sharing the name of Kojima Productions’ masked icon, ‘Ludens’ is a stop-start melee of sounds all tussling for top spot. Grasping the listener’s attention with a musical brawl, the Sheffield band’s contribution transports you to a darkened arcade with machines whirring around you.

The transition to Flora Cash’s ‘Born In The Slumber’ plucks us from the battlefield and brings a haze of 80’s-inspired, ‘Stranger Things’-style synths which relinquish tempo. Feelings of exhaustion and struggle pervade the track, which feels soporific alongside Bring Me the Horizon. This doesn’t last song, however, with the advent of Missio’s genre-bending ‘Sing To Me’ bringing dark uncertainty to the album’s end. This in-turn has an intentionally bewildering effect on the listener; if interpreted as a linear plotting of the game’s narrative, we have little assurances that our mission to ‘Unite the Divided’ will end in success.

As with ‘Death Stranding’, ‘Timefall’ twists and turns on a journey which is compelling and uncertain, its catalogue of artists transferring us to Kojima’s fractured America.

See the full tracklist below:

1. “Trigger” Major Lazer & Khalid               

2. “Ghost” Au/Ra & Alan Walker                      

3. “Death Stranding” Chvrches               

4. “Yellow Box” The Neighbourhood

5. “Meanwhile…In Genova” The S.L.P.       

6. “Ludens” Bring Me the Horizon

7. “Born In The Slumber” Flora Cash           

8. “Sing To Me” MISSIO

Where to steam and buy the album

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