The Longest Journey OST: The Music of Stark and Arcadia
>> WARNING: minor spoilers for The Longest Journey ahead! <<
The Longest Journey OST
I want to talk a little about The Longest Journey‘s original soundtrack (OST). One of the most important things that hooked me on the game, even from the first time I saw the trailer, was the music (composed by Bjørn Arve Lagim).
For reference while reading this article, and also for a great musical experience, you can download the full soundtrack right here. Completely for free!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets nostalgic when hearing crotales or a glockenspiel, or any other kind of light metal percussion being played. The dreamy metal sound reminds me of music boxes I listened to when I was a child. There are two that I still remember vividly.
The first one was at my aunt and uncle’s farmhouse. It played Send In the Clowns and featured – you might have guessed it – a dancing clown! I was lucky enough to find a video of the exact same music box here on YouTube. Oh my… look at him go!
The second one I still have at home. It was my dad’s aunt’s. A little watermill that starts spinning and playing music when wound up. How far you wind it up determines how fast the song is played, which always results in a very long decline in tempo before it stops. I both hated that and loved it.
I’m not surprised by the fact that these kinds of instruments often are used for fairy tales or fairy tale-like stories (Harry Potter, Once Upon a Time). For many people they’re tied to a time in their lives when magic still existed and fairy tales were far more than ‘just’ stories to us. Perhaps there’s even something in our nature that makes the sound feel mysterious and pleasant.
The same music box sound I talked about above is the red thread through almost all of the main titles in the The Longest Journey. Although both the game and the The Longest Journey OST don’t start with this track, I think it’s one of the most iconic ones in the game. It introduces us to the mystery and grandeur of the Guardian’s Realm and sets up a very ancient and religious atmosphere. The music box sound screams “fairy tale”, the choirs preach beautifully to the listener and the flowing string orchestra brings weight to the piece.
A World of Science
The last 30 seconds of the Main Titles track gives us a sneak peek into Stark, the world of science. Somewhat equal in grandeur, we start off with a deep drum hit that echoes on throughout the city of Newport. This is soon followed by the sound of metal. Not the magical sound from before though. It’s rougher, and more violent, like a chainsaw cutting through a freight ship.
But inside this large metal city of machines a girl is sleeping, dreaming of fairy tales. And thus the sweet sound of the music box returns, sneaking in a little bit of magic into a world ruled by science.
When April wakes up again and walks outside, we get a proper introduction to Stark (or Venice, to be specific). We see thick smoke, enormous buildings and large metal vehicles. More harsh metal sounds are heard, and that’s continued in the Venice track on the The Longest Journey OST.
Marcuria & The Northlands
Soon after April has landed in Arcadia, when the doors of Marcuria’s Temple of The Balance open, there’s grandeur once more. This time we don’t get bombarded with deep drums and metal objects. This time we’re greeted by a friendly and melodic flute, slowly being carried by flowing waves of orchestral strings and brass. There’s magic in the air, but this is no fairy tale. This is reality at its best.
Although Marcuria is one of the largest city in Arcadia, it’s only a small part of the world. It resides in the very south of The Northlands. Going up and outside of the city walls means going into more ‘uncivilized’ territory. Deep sounding, war-like drums and low, wooden wind instruments make up the pallet of these primal lands. But despite being a long way from civilization, some can’t help but feel a sense of belonging while being there…
The ‘Ancient’ Jukebox
Making a journey as long as April’s requires a little bit of relaxing at times. Before there was the possibility of the Journey Man Inn’s very own Comfy Chair, one of April’s favorite places to relax was the Fringe Cafe.
Aside from the occasional bands playing there, the cafe also had a jukebox. A real original, according to April’s boss Stan at least. After some convincing, Stan had agreed to put the jukebox on free play. It had five different tracks to choose from: Winterland, Dragon, Dolphin, Eagle and Shark. These, exclusing Winterland were composed by Tor Linløkken. They perfectly created a futuristic, loungey atmosphere and made the Fringe Cafe really feel like a cool place to hang out in.
The Road Back
Just like in the title of the score that’s playing right after the end of April’s journey, you can put yourself on a road back to the wonderful times you had in The Longest Journey. The Longest Journey OST can be downloaded from this site right here. Be prepared for some great flash backs!
What did you think of The Longest Journey’s soundtrack? Did you have a favorite track? Leave a comment below.