Episode #220: Jesper Kyd

January 15, 2015 · 22:43

Different video game genres seem to have their own personalities. And for the first-person shooter (FPS), that means devotion, intensity, and above all, seriousness.

Enter the Borderlands series.

Borderland’s game conventions are similar to many other first-person shooters – the player completes missions while viewing and interacting with the game’s environment from the perspective of their avatar. Unlike other FPS games, Borderlands refuses to take itself seriously. Though the plot may be dark, and the characters’ motives even darker, the writers and designers of Borderlands nonetheless infuse the game with a gloomy humor.

Composer Jesper Kyd has written for the series since its launch in 2009. The first game featured an American-western stylized score, complete with guitar and dobro, and the second installment contained echoes of a similar voice. For their latest release, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, the developers wanted a new sound. Their instructions to Jesper? Bring back the 80s.

Unlike the first two games, which featured live instruments and guest musicians, the process for Borderlands: TPS involved Jesper locking himself in his studio, and creating every sound himself. From Commodore­-type sound bites to brand-new technology from Sweden, Jesper crafted a soundtrack both driving and glistening. He plays with time signatures like a cubist with lines, maintaining an electronic solidity while hinting at playfulness.

This soundtrack was one of Emily’s best of 2014 for its use of humor and creative combat scoring.

PLAYLIST (all from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel unless otherwise noted):

Persistent Impulse
Beyond the Biodome
Into the Void
Main Menu (Borderlands 2)
Welcome to Fyrestone (Borderlands 1)
Space Station
Blade Runner Theme (written by Vangelis)
System Interference
Persistant Impulse​