Celestial Reflection Review

Cover art for Celestial Reflection by Záred
Cover art for Celestial Reflection

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Name: Celestial Reflection
  • Label: Jay Tholen
  • Composer(s): Záred (swordofkings128)
  • Number of Tracks: 6

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/EPs. The one I'm reviewing today is composed by a chap that goes by the handle swordofkings128 and is titled "Celestial Reflection".

In the world of Hypnospace Outlaw, the music is composed by an artist named "Záred" (which is apparently pronounced as "Za-reed"). Záred is an Earthhaze pioneer, one of the styles of music you can hear while surfing Hypnospace, but what exactly is Earthhaze? Well, according to Hypnospace's equivalent of Ishkur called "Slushmouth" (Ishkur is the guy that runs Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music in real life) the genre of Haze which came about in the late 80s is a "more ballad-focused permutation of Digital Style that sounds like it's being recorded in a parking garage". It's apparently "less danceable than Digital Style" and tends to feature a "rocky verse-chorus-verse" song structure. It's also described as being "loud, but beautiful" and "slower, with washes of reverb and shimmering guitar filling in the cracks".

Earthhaze is a type of Haze music and Slushmouth describes it as "Haze, but for hippies". Earthhaze often features "pan pipe samples, Djembe, and fake tribal chants".

There are six tracks on this EP and I'm reviewing the itch.io version of it which means the six MP3s are in 319kbps format (I'm not sure what format the Steam version of the soundtrack offers but I imagine it'd be the same).

The music on this EP actually traverses a multitude of styles and it's hard to define although as mentioned by Slushmouth, it often involves lots of synth panpipes and probably imitates the real-life styles of New Age or ethnic electronica closest. The soundtrack often reminds me of another game's soundtrack too, one that came out in 1994 called Little Big Adventure (aka Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure in the U.S.). In fact, "Next Understanding", "True Life Awakens" and "Agent of Peace" all have passages that remind me of this old game, with even maybe a hint of Theme Hospital. "Earth Funk" on the other hand sounds like something from either Deus Ex or SimCity 3000; its percussive segments reminds me of the percussion group called "Stomp".

My favourite track on this EP is the eponymous "Celestial Reflection". Although it's quite short (only a minute and a half long) it's the only track on this album that makes me feel the same vibe as Deep Forest's Sweet Lullaby and it also reminds me of an awesome MIDI file I used to dig back in the 90s called "echoes.mid" (after some scrounging around I actually managed to find this thing – it was composed by a chap named Michael Waltius).

Score – 8/10

This EP is worth a listen if you're wanting to relive the rise of New Age and ethnic electronica which were commonplace during the 1990s or if you just happen to like 90s game music, especially if you enjoyed Philippe Vachey's work on the Little Big Adventure games.

If you're interested in purchasing the soundtrack, it's going to be tricky to find it standalone as I've only found them available on the Hypnospace Outlaw store pages which means you'll have to get it off either Steam for $14.50 AUD or itch.io when you buy the game for $28 USD or more.