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Music Monday: Portal 2

On the latest issue (130) of the Cane and Rinse podcast we talk about the musical ménage à trois that further embellishes Valve’s already vividly realised Portal 2 world.

It makes sense to me then to neatly and conveniently lay out some of the highlights from an eclectic OST that covers a lot of emotional bases from intrigue, fear and discovery through to humour, melancholy and the bittersweet.

By the way, I wouldn’t recommend going any further (or listening to the podcast) if you haven’t played through Portal 2 yet. Spoiler potential, see?

The majority of the game is backed by Mike Morasky‘s (a fascinating polymath who, before making music for Valve games, was a visual effects technician/artist working on some of Hollywood’s biggest SFX pictures including Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean) oppressive score, Songs to Test By.

Seek out the Rat Man’s second off-the-beaten-track den and you’ll find one of those dinky portable wirelesses tinnily blaring out the unmistakable sounds of Ohio’s The National and their gosh-darned sensational original composition for the game, Exile, Vilify.

YouTube’s Faceofdoomness (Hae-Joon Lee) created this animated video to go with the song, in which some of the events involving Doug Rattman and Chell between the two Portal games are depicted.

On Chell’s way out of the Aperture facility (for good this time) with GLaDOS’ tacit blessing she finds herself serenaded by an operatic choir of semi-sentient turrets, including chubby soprano and the Animal King providing bass.

The wonderful Ellen McLain provided simple Italian lyrics for the operetta – Cara Mia Addio – which allude to one of the game’s greatest secrets.

Finally of course there’s the Jonathan Coulton closer, Want You Gone – again with vocals by Ellen McLain. I feel time and distance have been very good to this one and it’s probably best listened to as another expertly crafted and wryly amusing ditty in its own right, rather than the ‘sequel’ to the iconic Still Alive.

Playing Portal 2 again and compiling this piece has cemented what a seriously impressive piece of work that game is, and a reminder why – even when waiting forever for Left 4 Dead 3 (let alone Half-Life 3) why Valve is a developer I retain so much affection for.

As a little bonus, here are Ellen and banjo-playing, fellow voice talent husband John Patrick Lowrie (Total Annihilation, No One Lives Forever, Halo 3, Halo Reach) sweetly performing Want You Gone live together on stage.

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