Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 8

When the Music's Over - The Doors

If I hadn't done my research I would have placed this much earlier in the timeline. But thankfully my sketchbooks are littered with timestamps. They've been invaluable at times for ironing out these fine ordering details. I don't think anyone else cares if this is strictly autobiographical order, but it is important to me. Anyway, the point is that the music I listened to had a tendency to creep into the art I was making. I found some pretty random sketches related to The Doors, and specifically "When the Music's Over".

I don't think The Doors would be the same without the rampant substance abuse of Jim Morrison. Even though I was about as straight-laced of a kid as they make, there's something that appealed to me about Morrison's bat-shit-crazy forays off into the deep. I was oddly attracted to stupid bullshit like "The End". I don't know why I was so damned weird, but I was, and I liked weird things. Even though I was dead sober.

I wanted to appear somewhat normal and pick something like "Riders on the Storm" for this list, which is a song that I love. There are actually plenty of Doors songs that I both adore and are perfectly listenable. But they didn't punch through in the way that those lyrics about "the screams of the butterflies" did. Seriously, looking through my sketchbooks I was one fucked up kid. I don't know why they didn't lock me up.

Ramble On - Led Zeppelin

I actually don't have a concrete time to put in Zeppelin. We're at the point in my story where I'm really delving into classic rock, but it's not like I can point to a Zeppelin record in the way that I can with The Doors. All of my exposure was via the radio, which makes it almost impossible to place.

What I can concretely pinpoint is Lord of the Rings. The moment I started reading those books the evidence was legion in my sketch books. I can give exact dates for when I had hit Weathertop, Moria, Amon Hen, pretty much the whole journey to Mount Doom. I had finally got around to reading what Dragonlance and pretty much anything fantasy I had ever consumed was sourcing from, and I was not disappointed.

So, what does this have to do with Zeppelin? Almost nothing, except the some lyrics in this song punched through to me over the radio. Did he just say "Mordor"? Is this a rock song that has a verse about Gollum? Awesome. Also, this song is great.

Oye Como Va - Santana

At this point should I just say "I discovered classic rock" and leave behind the prose. There are just too many influences washing over me at this point. Delving into a single one seems like giving it undue focus. It's not like I turned into a Santana nut. It's just that this song makes me feel like a particular time in my life. I don't even have a story for this one. I unfailingly think of Noah, and of riding along in the car. It's just a light, fun, happy song that makes me want to dance. Not that I ever would have danced at that age, god no.

Iris - Live

Okay, enough of me blissfully exploring my rock roots. Time for something contemporary.  Time for some melodrama.

I was making friends. Some were rediscovered, but some were honestly new high school friends. Some of them were girls. And I didn't know it at the time, but I was totally going to develop some asymmetric crushes. Alas, no reciprocation for me quite yet. It will come eventually, don't worry.

I don't know how it is you get to associate a particular band or album with a particular set of friends, but it happened all the time back then. I guess when you're young you don't really have that much else to talk about. Music is powerful, and something you can bond over. Well this small group of friends that I'm thinking of are somehow are wrapped up in Live and Throwing Copper.

I combed through the album, which was intensely familiar. "Iris" felt like the right pick to represent how the album made me feel, and how I think it resonated with that group. But honorable mention here goes to "Shit Towne", and the memory of trying to convince Mary's younger sister that the lyric was "Ship Town".

Dishonorable mention to "Lightning Crashes" for completely petty reasons. So the song's pretty good, don't get me wrong. It's got that slow build-up which I like. After lots of natural build it transitions into a bridge at about 3:30. We're still fine at this point. It's how it comes out of the bridge that creates problems. At 4:06 it jumps right back into the chorus, but it feels oddly… deflated. It sounds like when mastering the track someone turned down the volume right at that point. The idea being that the song needed to go quiet again before the finale. But it feels forced. It feels artificial. It drives me crazy every single time I hear the song. And it's in the final part of the song. There's no time for me to recover and feel good about it. I just get dumped at the end of the song feeling used.

There's an underlying note of rejection for me in this whole album. I had a friendship that felt like it should go to another place to me, but the feeling wasn't mutual. Thankfully the friendship survived that. So it's still something I can listen to (although I hadn't in ages), but it's a tad melancholy because I can't quite separate what I was feeling from what I was hearing.

One Headlight - The Wallflowers

There are a couple of things wrapped up in this album. Namely, a hat, a girl named Lisa, and a girl named Francesca.

It's summer break. Not this one. Earlier, I think. I think between 8th and 9th, but maybe 9th and 10th. I'm anxious about the coming year. I have become keenly aware of how volatile friendships are in this scary new world. My mood is poor, but gets immediately turned around by one phone call. The person on the other end is Lisa, who I've known since middle school. I don't have the slightest clue how phone numbers got exchanged and under what excuse a call was initiated. My guess is that it's the only time a phone number dropped in a yearbook got used for the powers of good. Anyway, I don't know how we got to that point, but I ended up chatting with Lisa on the phone. Not in any sort of romantic way, or about any particular topic. Just the idle phone chat that I could do back then that I can't now. The point is I could feel a new friendship being forged. The future all of the sudden looked brighter. Just talking to someone else put me back on an optimistic path.

I remember walking around the house while on the phone. I remember finding a funky old-man hat and wearing it around. I remember feeling self conscious about the idea of wearing it out, but Lisa being totally supportive. Of course I never did. I really wanted to be the sort of person that could, but I wasn't. But I've never forgotten the support from that voice on the other line.

Later Lisa and I actually began to hang out. In school we became math partners. And at some point in there I remember us adopting this song as our anthem.

Many years later I was able to see Lisa again at my high school reunion. I really enjoyed catching up with her. She was one of the only two people there that I realized I probably shouldn't have let drift apart.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 7

I have plenty of musical memories from 8th grade, and I have another significant spike of influence in 10th grade that continues onward. But my Freshman year is a bit of a musical mystery. I've been digging and there just hasn't been that much that I've found. I guess in response to the extreme social changes of high school I didn't explore any new music. I mostly stuck with what I was already listening to and held on to that as a comforting constant in a sea of new experiences.

What we have here are mostly 8th grade experiences that just bled on through, because I basically have no memory of what was going on in late 1995.

Plateau - Nirvana

Most of my influences up until this point had been through friends. But at some point I started listening to the radio. Most adults get their radio time in the car, but as a kid you have to more intentionally carve out time to listen. I had a CD/cassette/radio stereo combo in my room by this point, and sometime around this time I started listening to 107.7 "The End".

The Nirvana Unplugged album was released shortly after Kurt Cobain did himself in. I had listened to Nirvana earlier on, and learned to play guitar to a lot of those tunes, but I didn't actually listen to them very much. This album though, this softening of their sound, really worked well for me.

I had fallen into the habit of listening to the daily top ten list on 107.7 before bed. I remember a long stretch where "Plateau" was the number one track. It got to the point where one night the DJ pleaded with people to lay off requests, to give up the slot to any other song even if for just one night. It's not even that amazing of a song; there are plenty on the album that I prefer. I to this day don't know why this is the song that worked for the mourners. Is it the sadness in his voice? The frantic chorus? The ethereal outro? Something about this song really connected with people to the point where they en masse called for it daily.

Personally I prefer "Oh Me". But that's not the memory now is it.

Add It Up - Violent Femmes

I had a cassette tape with part of this album on it. I don't know if that tape was from my friend Carlos, but I forever associate it with him.

This song was… raw. Dirty. I mean, he says "fuck", and that was still a big taboo to me. I felt like I was listening to something that I wasn't supposed to. I've heard "Blister in the Sun" plenty of times over the years, but it's "Add It Up" that takes me back to this time. There's something about the irate loneliness that just fit. Carlos and I are out on our bikes, full of misdirected lust towards our respective crushes. We're talking and bonding as we zip around. And this is the soundtrack. Of course we were outside with no ability to broadcast music, but retroactively this is what's playing in the background of my memory.

Devil Boy - Seven Mary Three

This is another album I attribute to times with Carlos. It immediately feels like an appropriate fit for those times, but I can't put my finger on why. It fits into that same mental bucket as that Femmes track: biking around the neighborhood.

I remember being not entirely satisfied with this album. There was something about the tone that didn't exactly work for me. It wasn't… effortless. But there was some potential. I wasn't able to really understand this until a couple of years later I experienced their next album, which we'll talk about when it comes around.

In the end I went with "Devil Boy" as the track here because it feels more nostalgic for the time. But I’m thinking I like "Anything" better.

Golopogos -> Muzzle - The Smashing Pumpkins

I started listening to the Pumpkins because of a girl. Now their next album came out, in all its two disc glory, and I listened to it for my own reasons. And it was one hell of an album. Billy Corgan certainly hadn't been dicking around with Siamese Dream, but Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is pretty much the definition of ambitious rock album. Sweeping, symphonic, complex, and sometimes downright difficult to listen to.

I could never listen to this album in direct sequence. It's just too all over the place. I developed some complicated series of track skips to carve my own path through it. It started with the title track, that lovely piano intro that brilliant lifts you up for "Tonight, Tonight". The journey from there was a dreamscape that sometimes dipped into nightmare. "Jellybelly", no thanks. "Zero" was okay, but I would rather skip right past to "Here Is No Why". I kept going for a bit but would be sure to skip "An Ode to No One". "Love" too, depending on mood. But then I’d be free to relax off the skip button as the disc closed out in style.

The best example of what the album was for me is in the combination of "Galapogos" and "Muzzle". "Galapogos" does that thing I love, where it slowly builds from a soft gentle intro into a heartfelt crescendo. That emotionally and sonically leaves me ready for the anthemic yell of "Muzzle". I perceive them as one song. Which is normally the sign of a good album, but of course I had to skip three or four tracks before getting to this pair. It somehow makes it even harder for me to select a song for this album. It was always a connected experience, however uneven the journey.

1979 - The Smashing Pumpkins

With two discs to the album I feel it can justify two entries. This album coincides with my increasing friendship with Noah. Mellon Collie was something we were both processing at the same time. I don't think I realized it at the time but we were listening to it in completely different ways. I'm pretty sure that the songs I skipped where the ones he listened to, and the ones that connected for me where ones he skipped. I didn't really understand this about our dynamic until a solid four years later when we were college roommates.

But there's one song that I think everyone can get behind: "1979". Care free, optimistic, and swept away by a groove. It's so tight and poppy that it feels like an extreme outlier in this crazy album. But it's so good that it feels perfectly in place wherever you put it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Music Made Me - An Interlude

In this musical timeline we have now arrived at the end of middle school and are about to embark on the journey that is high school. This seems like a good time to stop for a moment and take stock of where we are.


When I started this project I didn't think the individual memories would keep up. I mean, yes, as time marches forward my memories should be clearer so it follows that I would be able to remember more not less. But I guess I had expected my relationship to music to transition away from these little vignettes and towards rote refinement of musical tastes. Turns out no, the more I think about all of this, the more individual stories shake out. I had expected a format change by now, where there would be more songs and less text, but it just doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon. This is a good thing.


In looking back at my early music exposure it's interesting to see how the sources of influence change. In the beginning I'm exposed to music by my parents and by media (movies and TV). As my older brother pioneers before me he starts to turn into a strong influence. Then I start making friends and am exposed to the music from their own music journey, often very different from my own.

There's one thing missing here, and that's radio. At the point where we are in the story right now I'm not really listening to the radio yet. That's about to change, which will create some interesting waves.

But one thing seems to be true throughout all the years: I experience new music in bursts in response to social influences. In other words, I find music through friends, and I associate memories of specific friends with specific music.

A number of you have approached me and commented on this series. I'm doing this project for myself, but it's always good to see others enjoying it. I love hearing the memories and stories that this unearths in all of you. Please feel welcome to comment and share. The further I get in the more I realize that my journey would not be the same without the friends around me.


So, where are we in that journey? You'll notice that I have a strong grunge/alternative base. This genre was a rejection of overblown glam rock, and a softening of punk and metal. All of that has roots in what we call classic rock (basically hard rock and blues rock). At this age I have no concept of any of this. So I'm listening to a movement that's a response to something I know nothing about, which is itself a response to something else I know nothing about. If I grew up in any other time I'm sure I'd be similarly clueless.

Some people are snobbish about their music. They're doing it wrong. I'm not going to say that there isn't bad music out there, because there totally is. But in the large music is entirely too personal to be judged against a universal bar. So much of how we relate to music is defined by our personal history, and each person's history is different. I've been telling you about my story with some idea that it will contextualize who I am. But who knows if that translates.

Forming Tastes

In the story my tastes are beginning to form and individualize. I'm starting to get more cerebral about my music. This is a helpful thing at this time, but it will be something that I partially reject later. I have a tendency to overthink, and am often better served by simplicity.

One thing that's becoming more important in this tale is the guitar. I'm starting to take playing it seriously. In middle school it's a thing I dabble with; in high school it becomes part of my identity. Songs that work well with my guitar love will start to get extra attention.

You may have realized that there are plenty of B-side tracks on these lists when there are perfectly reasonable hits on the same album. At least for me, being a chart-topper has no correlation to the ability to form a powerful memory. I'm also just more of a B-side type person. These tracks are generally less obvious and more personal. They require some coaxing to come out of their shell. Like me.

Dirty Laundry

As we progress into high school some of these memories are going to become more personal… and not just for me. I can't have a discussion about music without also talking about the ups and downs of friendships and relationships. From my perspective this is all in the past and easy to laugh at now. Others may not feel that way. I'm going to write it all anyway. I mean, what's the point if I skip over the most poignant memories?


I'm about to head out on vacation, so sadly the series will be on pause for a least a week. When I return we'll jump right into my Freshman year...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 6

Roundabout - Yes

In middle school I took a music appreciation class. It was actually pretty fun and covered an extremely diverse set of music. I was at just the right stage in developing my own musical tastes to really be open to all of it. Traditional symphonic, avant-garde, musicals, it was all over the place and all very interesting.

I remember being able to take a cassette home of the music from the class. I can't remember if this was required homework, or if we were only expected to listen to stuff in class. It's not like there were real tests or anything… this was a middle school elective. It's funny, because now all I can think of is how much of a mess distributing copywrited material is. Supposedly there are allowances for educational use, but I can just see poor Mr. Pew getting thrown in prison for trying to “pirate” music for the children. The music business is such an ugly misguided place.

Anyway, there were lots of songs in that class. But I definitely remember "Roundabout", and feeling that it was cool to have a class where it was my homework to listen to rock music.

Silent in the Morning - Phish

My first real concert was Phish at the Evergreen State College. I was young, so I went with my dad. And my brother, I think? And Kevin? How do I not remember these details? It doesn't matter, I was going to see a real live band that I was interested in. And apparently I would see them with a whole bunch of hippies, who were getting totally baked. I was completely oblivious to all of this; my dad was not, but gets points for not freaking out.

I had no concept of what this concert would be like. Before going to the show I actually thought there was a chance that I would meet the band. I thought I might be put on the spot and I was anxious about not having anything to say. I had learned how to play some parts of their songs on the guitar, but I was worried about performing them in front of, you know, the whole crowd. Really, my imagination went wild. The reality of course was far less intimidating, as I could just hang out on the bleachers and enjoy watching.

I specifically remember "Silent in the Morning" from the encore. The song has this part where there are four beats at the end of each round of the chorus. Performed live this was combined with a spot light that cycled over the four musicians in time with the beat. It was so cool to see subtle visuals like that tied to the music in small but impactful ways. It wasn't just watching the music being performed live; there was an effort to somehow enhance the experience in the process.

Slave to the Traffic Light - Phish

This song wasn't played at the concert I was at, but it was released on the live album that came out shortly thereafter. For me it is one of the best recorded examples of how live Phish felt to me.

It's a long track, and it's barely even a song. There are movements through a rough structure, and at points some words are tied in there. But it's not about being a song; it's about going on a journey. Around four minutes in the music gets real quiet and turns into something entirely different, and quite beautiful. Towards the end (yes, ten minutes in), it's built to a glorious climax that feels appropriate and rewarding.

The band isn't recreating a heavily rehearsed combination of verse and chorus; it's more like they're rediscovering the music again for the first time. They're listening and watching to each other, playing off each other's ideas, and trying to move in the same direction. Sometimes it doesn't work out well; sometimes wonderful unexpected things come out. But it's always very real.

Killing in The Name - Rage Against the Machine

I'm not an angry person. I've never needed music as an outlet for my aggression against The Man. But I totally got into my brother's Rage album. I liked the way it sounded, and I didn't really care what they were actually saying. Maybe I did find something liberating about someone yelling "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" over and over again. I didn't personally have problems with people telling me to do stuff, but maybe this guy did, and yelling about it seemed to help him.  I had no problem with that.

But really I can't listen to this album and not remember myself playing Earthworm Jim. I think it was a weekend rental, and I sat down and played it with this Rage album as a soundtrack. At some point during this my brother's friends came by unexpectedly and froshed me by throwing me into the bay. It must have been the summer between 8th grade and 9th grade, where I would become a Freshman.  It was close enough for them. I was pretty relaxed about the whole experience - and in turn they were nice enough to let me take my shoes off first. Afterwards I came back in the house, dried off, and played more Earthworm Jim. Apparently Rage didn't make me angry, even in the face of being hazed and powerless.

Chubb Sub - Medeski, Martin, and Wood

Ah, MMW, a trio of musicians on a path between two places, and another musical gift from Kevin. On one hand they have this jazzy abstract background. On the other hand they're able to produce something like this, a groovy song that just felt so… cool. It was impossible for me to listen to this and not fall in love with the bite of that organ.

I explored the band deeper after experiencing this song. A lot of their older stuff was pretty unhinged, sometimes feeling more like an avant-garde mess. But at times it would manifest into Music, and when it did it was powerful. As time moved forward you could see the band harness a more modern sound, unafraid of incorporating new music elements.  In general this also corresponded with an increase in listenability.

Overall I found MMW to be extremely uneven. But as with Phish I appreciated their experimental spirit and how their chaos made the order that formed out of it all the more beautiful.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 5

Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World - U2

I keep thinking the first U2 album I experienced was Rattle and Hum. For some reason I forget all about Achtung Baby. I forget it until I put it on and roll into the B-sides, and then it all comes back. This album became part of my nightly cool-down repertoire. I would put on some music, read, and make the transition towards sleep. There's just this relaxed wall of sound going on here that really works for me.

Seasons - Chris Cornell

I didn't see the movie Singles until many years later, but I had access to the soundtrack at this point. Actually, it was the first soundtrack I listened to. It provided exposure to so many different artists and sounds. Many of them were challenging to my palate, and I spent a lot of time unraveling its layers.

It was full of firsts. This was the first time I really experienced Jimi Hendrix (weird, I know). There's a Led Zeppelin cover on this album that I couldn't stand at first but later grew to like (also, I had never really listened to Zeppelin, what's with that?) . And then there's the Smashing Pumpkins song that became a bridge to this girl I had a crush on. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I picked "Seasons" as the takeaway from this album. It has the always excellent voice of Chris Cornell and a clean acoustic guitar sound. There's a drive to the song that really moves forward so naturally. With the musical history that I had, and combined with my growing relationship with the guitar, this song was perfect for me.

All I Want Is You - U2

My first crush happened in the 7th grade. And it happened shortly after I discovered my brother's copy of Rattle and Hum (which I devoured - huge unexpected influence). I have memories of playing this song loudly on the living room stereo in the evening when no one was around. At the same time I would contemplate the full force of my love for this girl that I knew nothing about. This was one of the easiest and earliest pick for this list, because the memory around it is so clear and so strong.

Seriously, I was (and am) such a hopeless romantic, and this song is just so damned sweet. And good. It goes on this intense journey. There's the song, and then there's this whole emotional instrumental progression for two minutes that has always left me completely drained. After all these years it still works for me.

In these Feel-a-Thon sessions I would sometimes also play "Drown" from the Singles soundtrack sampled above. The girl I was crushing on was into this band I'd never heard of called The Smashing Pumpkins, and this was the only song I had access to (I would later score Siamese Dream, as you'll see). "Drown" had the problem of being a great song, right up until the point where it goes into crazy distortion masturbation land for an additional three minutes. The radio edit removes this, but I didn't have that luxury. So I'd listen to the song, be enjoying myself, and then have to rush back to the stereo and shut it off before it drove me crazy.

Numb - U2

This is one of those songs where people don't know the lyrics. It's completely monotone, there are a lot of words, and the music mostly plays over them. So naturally I tasked myself with memorizing all of them. Middle school age kids are so weird.

I hear this song and I'm instantly transported to the school computer lab in the library. I'm transcribing the lyrics from memory and putting them into some imaging program so I can apply some weird coloring effect. I remember the program having terrible text layout, and having to retype things many times. I also remember a girl (Lisa) commenting on how weird this all was. Many years later we would become friends, and many many years later she would be one of people I most enjoyed at my high school reunion, although I'm sure she doesn't remember this library encounter.

Thankfully I don't remember the lyrics anymore. My brain reallocated that space at some point.

Hummer - The Smashing Pumpkins

I found out that my first crush liked the Smashing Pumpkins, but I had no idea who they were, so I found out. I had to ask my brother. And then somehow I got a copy of Siamese Dream on cassette. It was unlike anything I'd heard before, but “Hummer” was one that really rose above the rest after repeated trips through the album. This song goes through controlled distortion and feedback to a beautiful place. The sound is full and raw but somehow gentle. And I love the place it goes to for those final two minutes.

My crush eventually faded. I never asked her out. I barely even talked to her. She was just cute and to my undeveloped self that was enough for me to completely obsess about her. But then she didn't follow to the same high school and then that was that. Despite the crush expanding for so long with basically no reason, it died without even a whimper as soon as the target out of sight. But here's the thing, this girl introduced me to some great music that has lasted me well beyond that awkward, awkward time.

Odd side note: In going back and fitting songs to the timeline this is one place where I've reached an internal inconsistency. I have a memory of trying to play along to "Soma" from this album with a thoroughly out of tune guitar. As in this would occur in the timeline right after I found a guitar but before I'd tuned it properly and learned any songs. That puts us somewhere around 1991. Siamese Dream came out in 1993, and according to my memory of how I got to the album it'd more be around 1994 when I was listening to it. These memories are incompatible. By the time I was listening to this album I was no longer friends with the person who I remember playing with on a happily self-tuned guitar. My memory is provably wrong here, and I don't know how to reconcile that.


I feel compelled to write about Bastion. I mean, I could just say "it's good, you should play it", which is totally accurate, or "it's so good I played it twice", which is also definitely true, but I think the game deserves more than that. It deserves some gushing.

Bastion is a downloadable game for the Xbox (PC too, although I played it on the Xbox). I guess I'd describe it as an 2D action game with RPG elements, although that's about as descriptive as filing music under the "rock" genre. It's got an overhead perspective, you run around and take down the baddies while progressing through levels. That's how it plays... but that part is pretty irrelevant. I mean, it plays well, but that's not the point. The point is that Bastion is a thing of beauty.

When I say beauty the first thing that probably comes to mind is its visual presentation. Art direction, graphics, whatever. That's all strong, but that's not what I'm talking about. This game is a treat for the ears. It's an auditory delight. Turning down the volume on this game is a punishably criminal offense.

The first thing you'll notice is the narrator. You're dropped in the game with some quick description of your surroundings by some gravelly old timer. Nothing else happens, you just sit there, seeing what is presumably your avatar lying down. Eventually you try to press some buttons and the kid will stand up. As he does the narrator describes what just happened. You continue moving around and this narrator follows describing things as you do them.

It's a subtle but hugely important addition. It's like in Mass Effect how they let you select your dialog responses before the other person is finished speaking. It's about the rhythm of the experience. Having the narrator in Bastion respond to what you're doing makes it feel like you are living out a story. As if what you're doing is important, noteworthy. And most importantly, the language, vocabulary, cadence, and tone of the narrator firmly plants you in this world more so than any visual ever could.

The narrator from Bastion has been much applauded in the game's critical reception. But reducing Bastion to a game that is only interesting because of its narrator is selling it short.

The music. Oh my god the music. There are few games that have caused me to go track down the soundtrack. This is definitely one of them. It feels simultaneously old yet modern, western but eastern. It feels like a future that is firmly grounded in the past. It's Firefly. It's steampunk. It's extraordinarily intentional and extraordinarily good. Again, more than any visual element, the music places you in a fully realized world.

Reading the notes from the composer, apparently he was aiming for “acoustic frontier trip-hop”. Yes! That! OMG yes that!

It's not my intention to sell the visual presentation or gameplay short. They're both very strong. The visuals are vibrant, interesting, and unique. The gameplay is simple but tight, and builds in a way that gives you plenty to master. It's a holistically enjoyable package. But it's the sweet sounds encircling my brain that make me love Bastion.  It’s good. You should play it.