Hypnospace Outlaw Original Soundtrack Volume 2 Review

Album cover for Hypnospace Outlaw Original Soundtrack Volume 2

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Name: Hypnospace Outlaw Original Soundtrack Volume 2
  • Label: Jay Tholen
  • Composer(s): Jay Tholen
  • Number of Tracks: 52

You can read about the fantastic Hypnospace Outlaw and how I acquired the game by reading my review. As I backed the game at the "HYPNOSPACE GROOVEMASTER" tier this meant I was eligible to receive "the original soundtrack in MP3 or FLAC"; little did I realise that there's a lot of music in Hypnospace Outlaw which is probably why the soundtrack spans over five albums. The one I'm reviewing today is by Jay Tholen (who is also the game's designer) and is simply titled "Hypnospace Outlaw OST Vol. 2". I reviewed the first volume last month and you can read all about it here.

So, what's on Volume 2? This album contains a whopping 52 tracks but they're all pretty short in duration usually only lasting for a minute or less. The tracks are available in many formats off Bandcamp including MP3 V0, MP3 320kbps, FLAC, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, WAV and AIFF. In the world of Hypnospace there is music that sounds similar to MIDI called Hypnospace Tune Sequencer (.hsm) files and Volume 2 of the Hypnospace Outlaw Original Soundtrack mostly contains this kind of music, while Volume 1 contains everything else that isn't. Volume 2 does contain the occasional track that sounds like MOD/Tracker music as well but really, the overwhelming majority of it is bad MIDI and I'm sure it's been done intentionally so, since this was one of the quirky aspects of Web 1.0 back in the 1990s: just about every webpage you visited would have some MIDI file automatically playing in the background. I used to love MIDI files back in the day and some PC game composers of that era really made the most of them, despite the limitations of the medium (some especially sounded good on Roland MT-32s) but for every one great MIDI track, there were a hundred bad ones, and while I've been able to tolerate most of the MIDI-style .hsm tracks on this album, there are some particularly bad offenders such as the overused meowing noises in "Katie's Kuddly Kat Korner" or "Tuba Buffet's Brass Shade" where the brass instruments are what's overdone instead. The worst of the bunch and the most perfect example of why you shouldn't base MIDIs off actual rock songs has to be "Leather Jacket Man" – it definitely gets the ears bleeding.

So, is there anything worth a listen on this album? The tracks that appeal to me tend to be the ones that sound like tracker music or like VGM for games I've played in my youth: "Cave Drip" is a nostalgic one as it reminds me of music from Legend Entertainment games such as Companions of Xanth or Frederik Pohl's Gateway and "The Technoshamanmatrix" has a hypnotic beat to the rhythm of a clock; it also happens to remind me of a track from Star Control 2 called "Quasispace". My favourite of these VGM-style tracks though has to be "Calculated Memories" which sounds like something you'd hear in an early 90s Amiga game.

There are a few tracks on this album that are nostalgic in another way. Back in the 90s, it was common for people to attempt to convert their favourite tunes into the MIDI format, which is what "DM Hazebeat" reminds me of: a MIDI track that is based off an actual dance track. "Millennium Anthem (.hsm version)" is another example of music being converted into a MIDI-style format, and both of these tracks are awesome because of it. There's even a reference to the WAV2MID tools of the day (i.e. programs that could automatically convert raw audio .WAV files into MIDI .MID files) thanks to the track "SquizherZ [AUD2HSM CONVERTER TRIAL]".

Other nostalgic tracks on this album that I enjoyed which reference (or inadvertently reference) 1990s/2000s pop culture includes "Pizza Dance" (a parody of 2000's "The Hampsterdance Song" methinks) and "X-MAZ MEDLEY (Coolpunk)", which sounds like a weird marriage between "Jingle Bells" and 1992's "Baby Got Back".

There is a track on this album that doesn't fit either of the categories I've mentioned above and yet I still think it's pretty awesome, and that is "Ice Cream and Booze". The track is used as the theme song to one of the more infamous characters in the game and is probably one of my favourite tracks on this album along with "Calculated Memories": the title is perfect as the music just kind of bumbles along, like someone whose had too much to drink, but it's interspersed with sweet ice cream flavoured synths, just coz. It's also got a hypnotic drumbeat.

Score – 6/10

The second volume of the Hypnospace Outlaw Original Soundtrack isn't as strong an offering as the first, despite the impressive number of tracks: that's because it really depends on whether you find what are mostly MIDI-quality tracks, palatable, and I'm going to guess not many do (including myself). Don't get me wrong, the music here complements the game perfectly but when listened to on their own, it can be a struggle. There are some gems here though if you're prepared to tap into nostalgia for the weird and wonderful world of MIDI music and pop culture of the 1990s and 2000s.

If you're interested in purchasing the soundtrack, it's available off Bandcamp for $5.99 USD.