Many modern gamers might not have played the game Myst, but it was one of the games that really impacted me when I was growing up. The premise of the game was that you were brought to a strange world and forced to uncover a mystery by traveling to various other worlds and recovering lost pages. The game was developed by Rand and Robyn Miller, with the latter handling the soundtrack. The Myst Soundtrack was made available for purchase shortly after the game's release and I managed to get my hands on a copy of it.
The soundtrack basically contains all of the music heard while playing the game, so if you have played the game, you will probably recognize every song on this album. In addition to the 23 songs from the game, they also include three extra tracks that never made it. Don't be deceived by the number of songs on this album though, each one is quite short, averaging about one and a half minutes.
All of the songs on this song are instrumental and have no vocals. What they do have are some great instruments, both real and synthesized. Many of the songs sound like they were performed by an orchestra, while other songs contain sounds that are clearly synthesized. In all cases, the instruments sound beautiful and realistic. The fidelity of this soundtrack is great and does not sound artificial.
Like the game, the music is lumped into five main groupings. The first six tracks are all from the main Island of Myst and feature traditional symphonic instruments. This is my favorite group of songs on the album because I prefer their more traditional style.
The next seven songs are from the Mechanical Age and much darker and mechanical, matching the theme well. Although there are stringed instruments, scattered throughout, you also hear what sounds like the pounding of metal and the thumping of drums. The music is foreboding and suspenseful, unlike the casual and relaxing songs from the Island of Myst.
The next four songs are from the Stoneship Age, which takes place on a ship at sea. The music here is not nearly as dark as the Mechanical Age, although the last two songs of this group sound rather sorrowful. The second song "Above Stoneship" features wind instruments and xylophones, making for a bizarre and very slow number.
The Selenitic Age is probably the most bizarre of the Myst worlds and it is only represented here by two songs: "Selenitic Mystgate" and "Temple of Achenar". These songs are mainly wind instruments and very slow and relaxing as compared to the previous two groupings. There is no sense of foreboding here, only harmless mystical melodies.
The Channelwood Age is also limited to only two songs. Both are very tribal, with bongo drums and strange scratching instruments. They are definitely composed to reflect the less civilized nature of the Channelwood Age, which is mainly a community living in trees. I found that I enjoyed the bongo drums and found them very relaxing. These songs aren't dark at all, just rhythmic and energetic.
The next two songs, "Finale" and "Un-Finale", are played when you win and fail the game, respectively. As one might imagine, the song for the failure is much more mournful and sad than the song for the success. The "Un-Finale" has wailing strings, while the "Finale" has nice soothing string melodies.
Lastly, we come to the oddball songs on the album, the three extra tracks. "Fireplace Theme" is a fast-paced and suspenseful song, suggesting an action sequence that never made it into the game. "Early Selenitic Mystgate" is the alternative to the "Selenitic Mystgate" spoken of earlier, and it is pretty clear why this version was replaced. It is too conventional to represent the music that one would find on so alien a world as the Selenitic Age. The last song on the CD is the "Original Un-Finale" and it is somewhat similar to the actual "Un-Finale". Both have a sad mournful tone, but I think this version is not nearly as dark as the one used in the game. In all of these cases, I can see why the songs weren't used in the game since they would not have fit properly.
In conclusion, this is one great collection of songs that I recommend to anyone who enjoys classical music or new age music similar to that produced by Enya. This album does not have must exposure, but it is far better than some better-selling albums of this sort that I have heard. Robyn Miller is a great musician and I hope that he decides to pursue music further.