Witchwood

"Melody and mood combine for a welcome, unique listening experience."

Artist Credits

  • Bjorn Lynne (composition, arrangement, performance)
  • Ken Senior (guitar)

Tracks

61 minutes total
  1. Witchwood Prologue
  2. The Woodlands
  3. The Forest Speaks, part 1
  4. Sunlight at the Mooring- A Jetty on the Lake
  5. The Forest Speaks, part 2
  6. Homeland Farmland
  7. The Forest Speaks, part 3
  8. Tell Tale Signs
  9. The Forest Speaks, part 4
  10. The Town of Witchwoode
  11. After the Rain (Dew)
  12. A Presence in the Air
  13. The Sinister Maze- a Journey through the Catacombs
  14. The Forest Speaks, part 5
  15. The Faery Woods
  16. Recollection (Sea of Memories, part 1)
  17. Nostalgia (Sea of Memories, part 2)
  18. The Gathering
  19. Witchwood
  • Released in 1996 by Mellow Records (catalog no. MMP288, retail $20 U.S.).

Reviews

Melody and mood combine for a welcome, unique listening experience.

Editor's review by Adam Corn

Many game soundtracks - even arranged ones - seem to focus mostly on making immediate melodic impact, rather than taking time to "set the mood". Witchwood is a bit different in that it strives to establish mood, often using ambience and slow melodic progression to do so. As a whole the CD revolves around the forest wilderness setting that the composer Bjorn Lynne attributes to having a strong impact on his life.

Witchwood utilizes the ambient sounds of the woodlands - flowing brooks, calmly chirping birds, etc. These ambient passages are used frequently between tracks, tying them together and setting the woodland mood. I don't consider myself much of an outdoorsman, but even I find myself enjoying this natural sound, which conjurs images of homely farm communities and misty forests after heavy rains. Other game soundtracks establish similarly strong images with their music, but usually those are more in the form of the knight's epic adventure or a space pilot's intense final dogfight. Witchwood's nature theme is unique.

Witchwood is not all about setting mood, though, as the ambient passages form only part of the CD. Some tracks have what could be considered a mild progressive rock sound. You'll have your electric guitar with limited distortion, driving bassline, passive percussion, and a mix of tame electronic sounds, along with the more natural instrumentation of winds, acoustic guitar, and more. It would be naive to claim that the sound hasn't been accomplished to some degree before, but as far as game soundtracks go it's pretty exclusive.

A few other tracks, "Homeland Farmland" and "The Town of Witchwoode" in particular, should bring an immediate smile to the faces of Final Fantasy fans and other RPG traditionalists. Uptempo, flutey, and highly melodic, these town themes have a lighthearted nature which, combined with the woodland setting, makes them a treat to hear.

The ambient natural atmosphere and less intense melodies of Witchwood make it a great CD to play as background music while you write, read, or do other tasks. However, there is also enough substance to the CD to lose yourself in the world of the music. Witchwood may not feature the abundant melodic content of a Konami CD or the drama of a Square soundtrack, but what's here is unique and a pleasurable listen in its own right.

Rich and atmospheric; easily the best soundtrack ever for a game that never was.

Reader review by Peter Weinstock

I know I'm fudging a bit with the boundaries of what is "game music" here. After all, there is no such computer game as Witchwood. But in mid-1995, Bjorn Lynne didn't know that. Lynne had been a legend within the European Amiga scene, having penned dozens of classic tunes in MOD format, both for commercial games and for the scene in general. Now he was the in-house composer for developer Team17 and had three critically praised music CDs to his credit. Team17 was coding a new action RPG called Witchwood, and he was headlong into composing the music for it. The soundtrack would give him a chance to show off his skills with a more lush, atmospheric sound, unlike his usual harder, more complex stuff. Then development of Witchwood was halted midstream, leaving Lynne with all this great material and nowhere to put it. Hence this CD.

To call this soundtrack as a whole "fluid" would be an understatement; one song blends into the next so seamlessly that it's really hard to keep track of the song titles without watching the CD player's track numbers change. Throughout is the sound of Lynne's homeland, the forests of Norway (or at least Lynne's perception of it). Birds chirp, water flows into babbling brooks, wild dogs bark far in the background... you get the idea.

But don't get the idea this is nothing but relaxing meditation stuff or simple "mood" music; there's real music here, and it's very, very good, especially if you're a fan of fantasy RPGs or just fantasy stories in general. Both "Homeland Farmland" and "The Town of Witchwoode" would be perfectly at home in any Square RPG you can name. Also on the CD are some of the most beautiful, haunting piano pieces I've ever heard: "Tell-Tale Signs" and "Nostalgia". And somehow, Lynne mixes in some powerful, melodic, most FLOYDian rock tracks ("A Presence in the Air", "Recollection") and it actually fits right in to this weird soundscape. I don't know how he pulls this off, but I hope he does it again real soon.

In case you couldn't tell, I like this CD. It's one of those true rarities, in that no matter how much I play it - and that's a lot, as it is the soundtrack for practically every sci-fi book I read - I never get tired of it.

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