Neon white wouldn’t be ‘freaky’ without machine girl music

A shredded character in Neon White stands in front of an ominous clock tower.

ScreenshotAngel Matrix

neon whitea laser-fast first person shooter thingunfolds in a heaven where angels threaten to explode your face and experimental music outfit Machine Girl pierces your wrong moves with saturated breakbeats

The game inspires you with its lightning-like visuals – turquoise water, cool-blooded girls with rainbow hair, buildings cast from pure porcelain – to move quickly through levels, as if you are in a beautiful nightmare, but the glittery vomiting music of Machine Girl will keep you moving . I’m obsessed with the soundtrack, so I asked Ben Esposito, neon white‘s developer and Matt Stephenson, the producer behind Machine Girl, how they made this possible.

It started in 2020, when modern life imploded and Esposito Stephenson, someone he had no previous connection with, sent an email.

“I’m currently working on an unannounced PC game,” Esposito said, “and I think your music has the perfect energy for it (it’s an edgy Deviantart anime first-person shooter from 2000… think like a lost PS2 game for the overall tone and style). a fan since Twin but I heard’Cyan Hardcore“I was like…this is it.”

The album of 2015 Twin and the track “Cyan Hardcore” by the EP 2020 RePorpoised Phantasies are both speckled with signature Machine Girl sounds, such as crush, glassy synth samples, and drumfill sprays and breaks. “Cyan Hardcore” in particular has the same “I’m in a game, underwater” quality many of the songs on neon whitethe two-part soundtrack, The Evil Heart and The burn that heals, to have. The cyclic melody pings through steel drum plug-ins and gurgles through low-pass filters; it’s very aquatic, but it remains tinny and clear, like the sound you hear when you unlock a PS3 achievement.

Because of this sonic parallel (and perhaps emotional parallel – Machine Girl songs are full of the same increasing energy you get from playing a game like disaster), Machine Girl fans have been charting Stephenson’s music for games for years. In 2020, an independent development team released Nightmarea static first-person shooter it said was “heavily inspired” by 2017 album …Because I’m young Arrogant and hate everything you stand forwhich leans entirely into the gory shooter aesthetic.

Elsewhere online, Machine Girl fans are making expanded versions of songs use video game examplesand you can also find Stephenson’s 2014 remix of the Sega action game Jetset radio soundtrack.

Video games and the Machine Girl discography are best friends and their relationship is cherished. Eli Schoop, and experimental music writertold me that “Machine Girl is sick because she uses the breakbeats and MIDI instruments of the early PS1 and [Sega Saturn] games and infuses it with hardcore and rave shit in a way few others have.

“I think it’s probably something intrinsic to anyone who’s both… loves digital hardcore and gaming to synthesize those loosely intertwined subcultures,” Schoop continued.[Stephenson] is definitely a real fan [of both]so it feels real and dope.”

Acknowledging his influences and the power of his fandom itself, Stephenson told me, “I think it’s pretty clear from all of my music that it’s very much influenced by video games.”

“As a kid I loved video games and certain soundtracks (especially those on the Sega Dreamcast) were really informative to me. But I only really started to consciously think about video games while making music until I got to the neon white tape,” he said.

“I think for anyone growing up with video games, we form emotional attachments to the video game OSTs of our childhood,” he continued. “If I can provide that for someone, that’s the most important thing to me.”

Going back to 2020, Stephenson accepted Esposito’s email pitch after establishing that he wasn’t “just another kid in his bedroom making a video game,” and the two began collaborating on the soundtrack. The process was difficult, but ultimately fruitful (obviously… did you hear?)

“When we started working on the score, Matt sent us an extremely intimidating Dropbox folder of unfinished music,” Esposito says. “There must have been at least 50 songs with file names like ‘mg2019 alpha 16 2020 D.mp3’”

After sifting through the dense file names, the two came out with a handful of incomplete music bursts, fireworks just waiting to be ignited.

“By the end, probably about 50% of the soundtrack was built from the pre-existing material, and the other 50% was made from scratch for the game,” Esposito said.

But shaping and completing that material especially for neon white introduced Stephenson to a unique set of obstacles. He’d never composed music for a video game before and doesn’t currently have any additional soundtracks planned (although he’d like to change that), so working under someone else’s creative vision took some tweaking.

“Sometimes it felt like I was trying to solve a puzzle, trying to find the right atmosphere for certain songs,” Stephenson said. “Every song in the game had a prompt for where to fit, so I had to focus and try to make numbers for certain levels, clues or menus. I usually make things a lot more mindful, so it took more discipline and focus. ”

Sometimes it was difficult to follow Esposito’s directions, and tracks were cut off because they “just weren’t the vibe,” Stephenson said. But his fresh focus pointed and ended up in a final soundtrack that both he and Esposito were happy about.

Stephenson calls the end product “colorful, luscious, energetic, spastic, whiplash-inducing, fast, exaggerated, maximalist, proggy, danceable and low-fat.” The description matches how you feel as you play through it – the giggling angels, shooting through the air and shooting skinny monsters until you reach the end, all led by Machine Girl. You feel like you are riding on something strange and aggressive, beastly but lively.

The music is also very practical. Esposito notes that the tracks accompanying the actual gameplay, which requires speed, precision and flying, are particularly “going hard, maybe harder than you might initially expect, but that’s the point,” he said. You don’t want to be slow when you break through demons and long for absolution, which is the premise of the game. Like Heaven itself, Esposito says the soundtrack should be “aspirational.”

“If the music feels too fast, you’re not playing fast enough,” he said.

Redemption, demons, and jungle music. When added together, they sound like a screwed up subreddit. But like the careful planning of the soundtrack, this too is intentional. Finally, according to Neon White’s marketingthe whole game was born with “freaks” in mind.

I asked Esposito about this, how ‘freakiness’ lives in every aspect of? neon white

neon white doesn’t make sense on paper,” he said. “It shouldn’t work, but it does work because it doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s a celebration of edge games and aesthetics. You definitely don’t have to be a freak to enjoy neon whitebut it’s made for the freaks who like media that’s weird, unhinged and 100% true to itself.”

The game’s music, a knuckle sandwich of sweet, crackling breakbeats, delivers hyperactive gameplay to the freaks with solemn passion.

“It wouldn’t be the same game at all without Machine Girl,” Esposito said. “Not just because Matt is a great and prolific producer, but because [Machine Girl’s] art reflects the same passion for overstimulating, unhinged, and underrated media that the game is built to celebrate.”

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