Borderlands Original Soundtrack

Borderlands Original Soundtrack. Front. Click to zoom.
Borderlands Original Soundtrack
Composed by Cris Velasco / Jesper Kyd / MoozE / Raison Varner / Sascha Dikiciyan / Tim Larkin
Published by Sumthing Else
Catalog number B002TBZCRY
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 CD - 27 Tracks
Release date November 24, 2009
Duration 01:03:06
Genres Electronica / Electronica: Big Beat / Ethnic / Industrial / Rock
Rate album!

Anti-crisis measures

For the last ten years a release of a new franchise has been quite a responsible and high-profile mission reminding of a space probe launch somewhere to Saturn – much investment, long flight and no guaranty of finding anything useful on the planet. New universes are reluctant to take roots, are often whimsical and naughty, and it takes a long way for them to rise from the dunghill. One can just look at the bunch of sequels and prequels released this year so as to realize this simple truth. So a postapocalyptic shooter with cel-shaded graphics (hey, comics!) and RPG elements like in Diablo couldn’t be more unexpected. One can only envy courage of 2K Games sponsoring the project. Welcome the winner of the Innovation Award!

Several colonization ships journey to Pandora (Hello, Avatar!) to lay a foundation for the future civilization. To the colonists’ disappointment there appears to be nothing useful on the planet, just interplanetary garbage and a legend about “The Vault“ (a supposed mysterious treasure trove), which is worth only of being told to little children as a bedtime story. Those who have money without much ado leave this cute minor planet. The rest try to create a society and rob the weak ones. So it’s our turn to show up, settle in and find The Vault.

Strong plot is definitely not the main best part of Borderlands. Weapons of all type, calibers and freakish colors rule the day. It’s not even the size of gun arsenal that impresses – it’s quite standard by the way – but the modifying system luckily borrowed from Diablo. By the wish of a random number generator an astonished player can receive a gun with an extended clip, sniper zoom, speed firing of an assault rifle, and if to go on dreaming with a possibility to roast an enemy to death with a successful shot. When gathering such toys becomes the main objective of the game then the plot fades into the background.

Right balance, adequate realization of the gameplay, awesome graphics and never tiring music are a recipe for Rogue RPG success. Borderlands is interesting like a FPS – every new gun evokes crazy excitement and demands to be brought into action. A mix of cartoon cel-shaded graphics with naturalistic canyons full with rusty junk, lopsided fences, slimsy but still working wind generators and other staff obviously shows that the authors have a good taste. Setting together with the seamy side of life makes you remind of unforgettable Fallout. Though here attempts to add seriousness are quite short-term. The main difference is in the atmosphere and the latter depends on music, we know it well.

Gearbox Software didn’t scrimp on the atmosphere and gathered a wonderful star crew under its wing: Jesper Kyd, Cris Velasco, Sascha Dikiciyan, and an actual audio producer and sound designer of Borderlands Raison Varner. Tim Larkin, an author of several Myst soundtracks, was spotted in a bonus section and percussion by MoozE can be heard in some Kyd’s tracks. You willy-nilly will expect some wonders from the album but don’t cherish illusive hopes – the music was originally designed for the game and first of all it performs its direct duties.

In one of his interviews Raison said that despite the constant game changes on the development stage as for the music everything was quite clear and understandable – he wanted to get ethnic tracks with electronic pads and a thick accent on percussion – a sort of aboriginal tribal dances with a touch of modernity in form of aggressive synthetics. The resulting cocktail really perfectly matches this description, at times reminding of dirty and urban inFamous OST. The similarity is particularly strongly emphasized by almost the same distortion-cello – a hallmark of inFamous.

Nevertheless if project by Sony was a composite of clanking, grinding, and booming sounds – which can be produced in urban area, whether it be drumsticks kicking the trash cans or sounds of auto glass breaking into pieces – here there’s an obvious incline towards ethnic. The opening track entitled Prelude by Jesper Kyd with MoozE’s percussion and minimum of electronics clearly proves it. There’s not much of Kyd in the album at all. That’s why, perhaps, he was brought to the frontier with two longest of his 5 tracks in the very beginning of the tracklist. Despite such a tiny length Prelude and Welcome to Fyrestone are key compositions and they set the overall tone of the game. The first track is played in the game intro and the second one with a viscous guitar, well-known beats (a la chewed-up tape) and unexpected (and very appropriate, damn) change of dynamics somewhere in the middle meets the player in the first town and is played in wastelands. The most interesting thing is that Kyd almost doesn’t use synth pads in his tracks – only polishing and coloring some percussion beats. Jesper’s music is definitely not enough on the album and his line with ethnic here is a bit nonstandard, so we’ll go further and switch to the people who made the main contribution to Borderlands.

Since Prototype times we recognized Sonic Mayhem (a creative tandem of Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikician) love of strings. Here they show all what they can do with cello to the full extent. This instrument with a highly expressive and liquid and melodious sound recently has been used almost everywhere in some mad processing. In inFamous cello bow was drawn here and there except solely on the throat; in The Dark Knight cello performs Joker theme sounding impressively scary and unusual. In Borderlands cello is at least somewhat similar to itself.

Cris and Sascha got mostly action tracks. A bit less ethnic, more dirt and distortion – surprise, but this combination works. The above-mentioned cello raising the intensity at times extremely successfully superimposes over this mess. As a rule, tracks of such a sort are rarely played on repeat in a player, but Fighting Sledge’s Minions and Burning Rubber and Shooting Bullets will definitely be. Intentionally “dirty” tracks by Sonic Mayhem offer a nice contrast to Kyd’s compositions. It’s a pity that there’s too few Jesper’s works on the album, as I’ve said before.

The rest of the album lies on Raison and I should say that his tracks are the darkest on the CD. If it is ambient, then it necessarily contains depressing, gloomy pads of cold synth and some ethnic insertions. If we’re talking about action compositions, then from the mad eastern pipes and demonic rhythms you’ll want to break something with a leg kick crying “This is Sparta!!!”. Raison’s tracks lie accurately in between the pure ethnic by Kyd and dirty outrage by Sonic Mayhem. The only exception is an ethnic theme Travelling to the Vault, which starts like an ambient but then under a pressure from the wind section and female vocal gently flows into a solemn and pompous hymn. If such a largo mix can be classified as a hymn, of course.

At last I should say about bonus section with 6 tracks from which Tim Larkin stands out with his dreamy-meditative The Old New Haven and Exploring the Mine as if they got here from some eastern tale. The rest of the tracks could be easily put in a heart of the album without the “bonus” prefix – nobody would see the difference.

The album turned out to be a solid one. It won’t set the charts on fire but no doubts it’s quite pleasant to listen to. Despite almost the complete absence of contrast in the melodies here you can find a decent amount of interesting and catchy tracks. It’s definitely one of the most enjoyable albums of the last year.


Music in game


OST Collector


Another first-person sandbox shooter, Borderlands made waves already during its gestation due to an eye-catching change of the game's art style during its development. Sporting a look that's somewhere between comic book and cel shading, the game went on to become a surprise hit, having sold more than two million copies on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 since its release. To craft a soundtrack that complemented the individuality of the game's visual design, a high profile composer team, consisting of Borderlands' audio director, Raison Varner, and contractors Jesper Kyd, Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco, was assembled. According to Varner, the composers were going for a sound that was unique and fresh, and would serve to underscore the game's dark and violent universe. So, basing our judgement on the game's soundtrack release, which contains all the music that was written for Borderlands, plus some unused tracks. How successful were these artists in achieving their goal?


While the composing team behind Borderlands may have been pushing for a musical style that sets it apart from the vast number of other game soundtracks out there, the question remains how the Borderlands' soundtrack responds to the fact that the game takes place in one of those barren, futuristic wastelands (albeit presented with some graphic twists) that have become common place in films and pop culture in general since the Mad Max movies, and which sport their fair share of visual and acoustic stereotypes? Borderlands' score addresses this problem by providing an eclectic mix of different musical styles, successfully melded into one convincingly coherent whole, but whose parts are hardly unique or supremely original.

Broadly speaking, the soundtrack mixes electric guitars (distorted in manifold ways), heavy electronic beats, atmospheric synth pads, ethnic percussion and other world instruments to musically portray the world of Borderlands. However, taken on their own, these elements are all well-known: representing a game's baddies through aggressive, distorted electric guitars is hardly ground breaking, pulsating electronic beats have been a staple in game music for ages, and using ethnic instruments — particularly from the Middle East — to represent the alien nature of a particular place has only taken about 10 years to become a movie scoring cliché (blame Gladiator). Still, when combined as skillfully as they are through most of this soundtrack, these elements make for some intriguingly layered compositions — but they also result in some rather generic tracks when applied with less talent or effort.

The composers and particularly Raison Varner — as the game's audio director — are to be complemented on creating a score that, despite the many creative minds involved, maintains a good balance between letting each composers' individual style shine through, while remaining sufficiently coherent. Jesper Kyd, responsible for scoring Borderlands' large areas that the gamer spends most time exploring, opens the soundtrack with two compositions that effectively set the scene and are among the soundtrack's most atmospheric cues. "Prelude" starts out with a soft, spacious synth pad, which is soon joined by a middle-eastern sounding woodwind instrument, playing a plaintive melody. The track picks up steam when ethnic hand drums join in and soon, the music's driven forward by an interesting mixture of ethnic and electronic percussion, which communicates the exoticness of the game's location and the way in which Borderlands' world is presented well (at least to Western ears).

The acoustic guitar featuring in the second half of the track returns in the following cue "Welcome to Fyrestone", initially manipulated through a heavy echo effect, before segueing into a clean solo, accompanied by hand drums and more atmospheric synth pads. Adding the acoustic guitar to the soundtrack's sonic palette proves an inspired choice, providing a rare feeling of warmth and home among the score's other, more aggressive elements, both in this track and in one of Kyd's later pieces, "The Junkyard Vista."

While Kyd's contributions to the soundtrack — unfortunately — are only a few, they're indicative of what the listener should expect of Borderlands' soundtrack: music of a mostly dark ambient nature, which effectively paints an image of the game's location, and which elicits interest mainly through its textures, not so much through its structure or memorable melodies. And certainly, this approach is perfectly valid and yields remarkable results, as seen in Kyd's introductory compositions — however, it can also generate some rather flat and monotonous pieces, such as "Welcome to the Wastelands", Kyd's most ambient composition, which consists of several interweaving, spacious synth pad and a generic electronic beat. Just like a number of other tracks on the album, it suffers from an ambient sound that is too anonymous to make an impression during the piece's short running time.

Which brings us to Sascha Dikiciyan's and Cris Velasco's contributions to the soundtrack. Both artists collaborated on each track they composed and were responsible for providing the sound that characterised the game's antagonists, the bandits. Unfortunately, the musical means they choose occasionally turn their pieces into a bit of a bore, and the fact that their tracks are grouped into two chunks on the score album doesn't exactly help in masking their genericness. To portray the bandits, the two composers — somewhat predictably — rely on a range of distorted electric guitar sounds, which are meant to add an element of aggression and grittiness to the soundscape.

And while they certainly do, the guitars fail to inject the soundtrack's action material with a sufficient amount of energy or sonic variation after the first one or two such tracks. Usually coupling the guitars with heavy electronic beats and other assorted percussion, compositions like "Removing The Bandit Threat", "Fighting Sledge's Minions" and "Smoking Out The Bunker" are functional, but fail to stand out, delivering nothing much in terms of memorable rhythms or instrumental textures. A light choir in the second half of "Removing The Bandit Threat" is a nice addition to the soundscape, but it remains an ephemeral detail. "Welcome to the Bunker", through its echoing metallic synth sound, successfully paints the imagery of long, dark corridors, albeit through hackneyed means.

Things become more interesting towards the end of the soundtrack, when Dikiciyan and Velasco bring some variety to their sonic palette. "Fighting Krom and his Gun" thankfully adds some new, more heavily distorted guitar sounds to the table, together with string accents and live drums, which drive the piece forward through a soundscape that feels a lot less compressed and crammed than on most of the album's other tracks, making for one of the score's most interesting and atmospheric action cues. "Trash The Bandits" is marked by occasional dark, majestic synth pads, which add some welcome melodic elements to the composition and imbue it with greater emotional resonance than previous action tracks, despite the piece's short running time. And while "Burning Rubber and Shooting Bullets" employs the same wailing, distorted, distant guitar sound that most of Dikiciyan's and Velasco's tracks share, at least it is more propulsive and blood-pumping than many of their other cues.

Raison Varner's contributions cover more stylistic ground than those of his collaborators — somewhat naturally, considering Varner was responsible for scoring all those bits of the game that were not covered by the other composers. His pieces are a bit of mixed bag, but ultimately manage to entertain and sometimes even impress. His attempts at ambient scoring are hit-and-miss. "Assaulting Krom's Canyon", at almost five minutes the soundtrack's longest track, starts out promisingly, driven by resonant drums and overlaid with sparse orchestral and electronic textures that exude stealthiness and a feeling of sneaking up on the enemy's headquarters. But while the inclusion of some more percussion layers early on suggests the beginning of a steady build up or at least some instrumental variety, there's not much development after the first two minutes have passed, and the tracks keeps on meandering for three more minutes, before it essentially finishes where it started off.

"Traversing The Deep" will surprise no one through the ways it depicts an underground location — echoing synth pads and voices, combined with fuzzy, swelling, oppressive deep synth chords — but it's certainly an effective composition, which is given some additional atmosphere through the inclusion of electronically manipulated, ethnic woodwind instruments and strings. And "Travelling To The Vault" is nothing short of spectacular. Underscoring the approach to the mysterious alien structure, which is at the heart of the Borderlands' narrative and the goal of the gamer's journey, the piece uses haunting, wordless, operatic alto vocals to mesmerising effect and sets them against a mysterious, yet majestic synth background, with some more melodic elements introduced through ethnic woodwind solos. It is this track which impressively demonstrates the potential inherent in the composers' eclectic, ambient approach; but at the same time, it also make clear that this potential is only rarely completely fulfilled on this soundtrack.

Varner's combat tracks rank among the score's more interesting action material. "The Rakkhive Emerges" and "Battling Kron's Minions" display Varner's ability to effortlessly switch between ethnic and electronic elements, to play with different textures, and as a result to generate a more varied and involving listening experience than Dikiciyan and Velasco's compositions do. Additionally, "The Rakkhive Emerges" incorporates some playful sound effects and classic orchestral elements that Varner deploys in other tracks as well — particularly single, swelling brass chords — which add to the cue's appeal. "Destroying the Destroyer", the score's final action piece, unfortunately fails to live up to expectations, raised by Varner's own "Travelling To The Vault", which precedes this track. Driven by more drums and heavily compressed electronic sounds, it tries to convey a feeling of urgency and finality through a generic, ostinato string motif, which gradually pushes its way into the foreground of the track's soundscape, while moving upwards in pitch, before the cue abruptly ends — hardly a grand finale to the gamer's journey and the soundtrack.

Before moving on to the soundtrack's bonus tracks, some praise needs to be given to Varner's remaining compositions, which add some interesting elements to the score's instrumental palette. "Enter Skag Gully", apart from the soundtrack's usual palette of ethnic and electronic sounds, features a beautiful, melodic solo for violin, which is given a unique, manipulated sound, making it seem a bit scratchy and distant. The soundtrack would have greatly benefited from more inspired experiments like this. "Fighting Off The Skags" is another combat track driven alternatively by heavy electronic beats and ethnic percussion, while spicing things up with some Mongolian throat singing. It feels a bit gimmicky, but still makes for an intriguing listen.

Just like the score, Borderlands' bonus tracks are a bit all over the place in terms of their quality, but they do add some substance to the soundtrack by including a number of tracks that give the composers the chance to present a different side of their approach to scoring the world of Borderlands. It remains unclear though whether Varner was referring to these tracks when he said during an interview that the score album contained music that wasn't used in the game after its art style had changed during development. Kyd's "Bring Your Guns" is somewhat more upbeat than his previous pieces, incorporating a didgeridoo and ethnic solo flute over a rich bed of live and synthetic percussion, emitting a tribal atmosphere. Dikiciyan and Velasco surprise the listener by taking a much more cinematic, expansive and colourful approach in "Borderlands" than in their other compositions. "Exploring Outlook" is a nondescript, short ambient piece, but the composers' "The Threat At Overlook" earns points by including an ethnic woodwind instrument that has been distorted and manipulated beyond recognition and made to sound almost like a distress signal. The bonus tracks also include composer Tim Larkin's only two contributions to the soundtrack. Based on these two cues, it's difficult to make an informed judgement about how his compositions may have contributed to the score, had he been involved with the final product. "The Old New Haven" features a melancholic, almost noirish saxophone solo against a percussive background, but "Exploring the Mine" only contains more generic ambient and action material.


There is much to like in Borderlands' soundtrack: the numerous cooks don't spoil the dish, as the composers' compositions come together nicely, each of them taking a different approach to using the score's varied instrumental palette of world, rock and electric elements. The results of these approaches vary in regards to their quality. Kyd's tracks usually set the scene quite effectively and sustain their length rather well. Dikiciyan's and Velasco's compositions too often sound generic in their evocation of a gritty, futuristic threat and only provide the occasional highlight. Varner provides some of the most interesting instrumental textures on the soundtrack, as well as its one standout track ("Travelling To The Vault"), but some of his action and ambient material falls rather flat as well. Given the high profile of the composers involved in this project, and the fact that the score's soundscape — while not being exactly unique — is still quite original, it seems there's quite a bit of unfulfilled potential in this soundtrack. Ultimately though, the quality compositions outweigh their less fascinating brethren. Listeners interested in an often successful marriage of the stylistic elements described above should give this a try, but don't expect to be enamoured all the way through.


Music in game


Simon Elchlepp

Йеспер Кид отчитался по Borderlands.

Вот и все. Теперь мы знаем точно, чем занимался духовный вдохновитель вдохновений, нашего вдохновленного друга Паси, товарищ Йеспер Кид. Давече он сам признался, по чесноку как на духу. - Спасибо всем, парни. Я недавно закончил работу... Показать

 02.09.2014    5074

Попал под Дикисияна

Это случилось 26 июня в душную Лос-Анжелескую ночь. Шумная автострада жила своей жизнью, гудя плотным трафиком из сотни колес. Пальмы широкими лапами веток провожали удаляющиеся автомобили. Ничего не предвещало беды. Как вдруг, на одном перекрестке, когда светофор дал красный свет проходящим и зеленый ездящим, некто нетерпеливый,... Показать

 06.07.2012    4601

Рецензия на саундтрек Borderlands

...Gearbox Software не стала экономить на саундтреке и собрала замечательный звёздный состав под своим крылом: Джеспер Кид, Крис Веласко и Саша Дикисиян, а также непосредственно аудиопродюсер и саунд-дизайнер Borderlands Рэйзон Варнер. В бонус-секции также засветился автор нескольких Myst-саундтреков Тим Ларкин, а перкуссии MoozE можно услышать в... Показать

 15.01.2010    3793

Превью саундтрека Borderlands

Borderlands, похоже, ждут хорошие продажи – в США, поговаривают, уже есть дефицит копий. Саундтрек к игре выйдет чуть позже – 24 ноября на хорошо известном лейбле Sumthing Else. На диск войдёт двадцать одна композиция из игры и шесть бонус-треков. На сайте Джеспера Кида можно послушать два... Показать

 29.10.2009    3919

MoozE отметился в саундтреке Borderlands

Помните, мы недавно писали о нежиданном композиторском конгломерате в Borderlands? Джеспер Кид на пару с Sonic Mayhem приняли активное участие в создании саундтрека. Достаточно нетривиальный состав для постапокалиптического шутера, согласитесь.Теперь же стало известно, что в проекте отметился и MoozE. До отдельных треков, к сожалению, дело не... Показать

 21.10.2009    5757
Album was composed by Cris Velasco / Jesper Kyd / MoozE / Raison Varner / Sascha Dikiciyan / Tim Larkin and was released on November 24, 2009. Soundtrack consists of tracks with duration over more than hour. Album was released by Sumthing Else.

Sounds like Electronica, Ethnic, Industrial, Rock - that's what we can say about this album.

CD 1

Jesper Kyd
Welcome To Fyrestone
Jesper Kyd
Enter Skag Gully
Raison Varner
Fighting Off The Skags
Raison Varner
Removing The Bandit Threat
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Traversing The Deep
Raison Varner
Fighting Sledge's Minions
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Welcome to The Bunker
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Smoking Out The Bunker
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Burning Rubber and Shooting Bullets
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
The Junkyard Vista
Jesper Kyd
Welcome to The Trash Coast
Raison Varner
The Rakkhive Emerges
Raison Varner
Assaulting Krom's Canyon
Raison Varner
Battling Krom's Minions
Raison Varner
Fighting Krom and His Gun
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Trash The Bandits
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Trash The Bandits Some More
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
Welcome To The Wastelands
Jesper Kyd
Traveling To The Vault
Raison Varner
Destroying the Destroyer
Raison Varner
Bring Your Guns
Jesper Kyd
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
The Old New Haven
Tim Larkin
Exploring the Mine
Tim Larkin
Exploring Overlook
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
The Threat At Overlook
Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco
28 октября, 12:08
Доп. информация Denis Zhgutov
28 октября, 12:08
Трек в трек-листе изменён Denis Zhgutov
28 октября, 12:08
Трек в трек-листе изменён Denis Zhgutov
28 октября, 12:08
Трек в трек-листе изменён Denis Zhgutov