Thematic Thursday: Grim Fandango

Welcome back to Thematic Thursdays: where I share from my collection of soundtracks suitable for writing or working! Today’s feature is in honour of Halloween: Grim Fandango.

Composed for the 1998 LucasArts game by Peter McConnell, the Grim Fandango soundtrack is just an eclectic a mix as the game, mixing jazz and big band tracks (‘Casino Calavera’ is great to Charleston to, I can say with some experience) with traditional Mexican instruments and samples–such as on the very sweet track ‘9th Heaven’ or the gently spooky ‘Temple Gate’.

Grim Fandango is a point-and-click adventure that goes for big story telling and a very cinematic experience; it would almost work on its own as a movie. As such the soundtrack is much more noticeable than many games of its type, which makes sense as some tracks were designed to underscore cut-scenes, not just remain in the background–whereas others were composed to loop endlessly and mindlessly as literal elevator music.

So the album as a whole doesn’t glide gently from one song to another (as in, say, Riven). For me it lends itself more to tasks with a sense of urgency rather than setting a mood, so it’s great for writing blogposts or design work. Steam released in 2015 a remastered version of both the game and the soundtrack, and I recommend both. For the re-release, Peter McConnell redid all the tracks with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, giving the Steam version a much rounder, fuller sound, as well as longer versions of the songs themselves. But I still have a soft spot for the original so I am including links to both.

YouTube: Original soundtrackRemastered soundtrack

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