If you’ve listened to the previews of Kevin Schroeder’s new album “Loudness Wars” or perhaps you’ve found it on Spotify, and you either didn’t listen with a huge subwoofer or at the very least a set of good headphones, you really need to stop reading this, find a subwoofer or good headphones and listen again.
Long-time PHP advocate and technology evangelist Kevin Schroeder recently released his latest album entitled “Loudness Wars” on May 1, 2012. Kevin has made the claim that he guarantees this is good music to code by and I’d have to agree, especially when listening on headphones. Kevin’s put 10 tracks of instrumental good-times in this album which ranges from power guitar ballads to piano pieces and more than a few that brought back specific memories of some particular video games.
Again, I want to re-emphasize the importance of enjoying the album on a decent sound system. My first few listens were on my MacBook Pro through the built-in speakers and I felt like something was “off” or wrong and was dreading writing the review. It turns out that the built-in speakers just don’t let you hear all of the subtleties and layers that are in most of the songs. I feel in some cases I really was missing out on about half of the song. As I am writing this, I’m listening on a nice home theatre system with Bose speakers.
The album opens with “Premonitions”, bringing in an epic movie opening sound with piano, strings and a resonating bass line. Three minutes in, a crunchy guitar joins in the melee. The sound is somewhat similar to some tracks from the Blue Man Group.
The second track, “Lutetium” starts off with the drums, quickly brings in a synth and then some more rock guitar on overdrive. All three instruments jump around and intertwine. The track would make an excellent soundtrack for a top-down shooter. The track ends with some chimes mirroring the chorus line of the guitars and synth.
Track three, one of my favorites, “Steam Punk Roller Derby” has a great sci-fi feel opening which quickly transitions to some great bass drum, synth with some guitar behind all of it. Throughout the song the drums are quick and manic with a nice slow synth in the front rounding everything out. The song finishes out with all elements speeding up to nearly match the drums. It reminds me quite a lot of the MechWarrior (game) sound track.
In track four, “Crisp Licks” has a lot of spacey sounding synthesizer, and lots of low-end bass which meant I actually had to cut the equalizer down a bit. The guitar returns in a couple of different areas, bringing in some rhythm and the occasional high solo elements. It wraps up with the synth organ and the guitar with the drums and bass dropping out almost entirely.
“Frenetic Waltz” follows with another spacey opening, more crunchy guitar and high chorus. The first bridge has something with the single key plunking that reminds me a bit of parts of the “Fable” video game series. Definitely an enjoyable track.
Another favorite, “A Voice in the Wilderness” and the longest track on the album begins with some sustained chords over some lower elements. Piano, organ? and more strings round out the intro. The guitar here reminds me of TSO with drums in the front, quickly cycling synth and guitar in the background and lead guitar just behind the drums.
Track seven, entitled “Sauntering with an Alien” starts by smacking you around a bit with the slap bass and then bringing in the synthesizer and guitar. The song is heavy on the synth and crunch with the drums pretty much just providing a bit of timing and rhythm.
Placing somewhere in my top three on the album, “From the Deep” starts with booming low bass drums and electric synth. This is the only song on the album that has vocals of any kind and they are pretty much shouts. Images of Skyrim come to mind, at least in the beginning of the track. The guitar makes a return as well with some lead guitar tweedling (yes, I made that up, I’m not a music reviewer) over the synth and finishing out with some crunchy rhythm.
Domo Arigato, Kevin, for “Moderato Guitarato” which begins with the crunchy guitar and some slow synthesizer organs. This song has a lot of strings including what sounds like violin and something lower (cello, perhaps?) and even some horns. This one really sounds like a modern movie soundtrack for a King Arthur era movie.
Finishing up the album with “Approaching the Light”, the piano starts us out solo and carries through with no other instruments joining in. This one has elements familiar to anyone who has played probably any JRPG. It a quiet and calm tune that nicely rounds out and brings the album to a close.
Overall, Kevin’s latest release is a lot of fun to listen to and as a developer, I’d say it works quite well as coding music. There are no distracting lyrics or grating sounds which means before long you’ll be cranking out code and bobbing your head at the same time.
Kevin’s album is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify and other places. If you decide to listen via the last link and you like it, please consider purchasing a copy from iTunes or Amazon. You’d need to listen to the songs ~3454 times for Kevin to make the same amount as a single album purchase from Amazon or iTunes.