πŸ’ΏπŸ€  Desperados III: Original Soundtrack | Black Screen Records πŸ€ πŸ’Ώ @blackscreenrec #VideoGameVinyl #Vinyl #VGM

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When playing a game based in the Wild West, there are certain sounds I expect (and yearn) to hear; tremolo, acoustic guitar, saloon piano, dusty slides and possibly a touch of Mariachi music, If I’m lucky.

Desperado III has all of this and manages to throw some surprises into the mix as well. On a personal level, after covering so many albums of varying genres and styles, it spoke to the string-twiddler in me to hear a full instrumental album of music that featured (tasty) guitars as the main focal point in terms of instrumentation, Yee-haw!

Presented as a single record, Desperados III features lifelike renditions of in-game characters on the cover. The work – courtesy of Randis Albion – is illustrated on a faded paper style, as if the record sleeve itself is an old ‘wanted’ poster rich with browns, creams and the rising essence from a mysterious green flask held by Doc McCoy, that weaves through the character portraits.

The rear of the album shows various images of the world of Desperados; John Cooper walking away from a duel at sunset to his waiting gang; uneven gravestones in the dry, dead earth and rocky outcrops in the hot evening sun - the colour palette really does capture the vibe of the time – hot, stark, unforgiving and deadly.

The translucent red/black marbled vinyl itself is 180g and to my eyes is a deep, blood red. Good. This being a Black Screen Records release, means that the record is ensconced in an anti-static sleeve, which is always awesome and something I always appreciate about BSR creations. The inner circle of the vinyl features the barrel of a six-shooter, with three bullets fired, a nice tip of the hat to the fact that this is the third game in the series.

So far, so cowboy...

Track-by-Track Breakdown

Side I

Desperados 3 Main Theme – A very strong, scene-setting opening! Shimmering, tremolo-driven blends of acoustic and electric guitar build up to swaggering single-note lead lines over epic strums and drums that call to mind a gang trotting across rugged terrain, it also contains touches of refrains that will be returned to later on in the record. The subtle ambience, keyboard work and nylon-strung guitar runs at the end of the track cross into some Southern licks and a string bend that reminded me of the best parts of Sanctuary 3 on the Borderlands 3 soundtrack – a lot of ground covered here, moving from the dusty range to Mexico and back. It’s getting me ready to draw those pistols!

On The Hunt – The tremolo-effected electric guitar mosies along here, backed up by low, simple bass, scattered, marching snare rolls and the occasional piano chord - it really is great to hear such a guitar-driven album that relies on well-chosen notes and layers as opposed to technical prowess. In terms of production, everything feels live and organic, which absolutely adds to the grittiness of the Western vibes.

Running Late on Payday – A moodier piece than the previous tracks, this has a heartbeat bass kick, and dusty violin with echoes of reverb, and is focused on some tasty acoustic guitar riffs that drop to palm-muted versions with a subtle electronic back-beat as piano trills loom in the darkness. The roomy, distant drums fill the space as layers of different styles of acoustic guitar run through the main melody, evocative stuff!

Troublemakers in Flagstone – classic Ry Cooder-esque Last man Standing-era action kicks this one off, trading blues licks over low-slung bass and muted beats. The track eventually adds those sleek fiddle lines and some saucy electric notes and bends for colour, the bass really sneaks up on you here, ending with a cool downscale on an upright.

Until Death do us Part – melancholy saloon-style piano adds another arrow to the album's quiver before handclaps and an upbeat acoustic riff gets the feet tapping! The omnipresent tremolo snakes along in the background, adding ambience to the music as the piano returns over palm-muted chord work. Again, the bass throws in a cheeky run at the denouement, good.

High Noon – No time to breathe as we lean towards Mariachi music here, in not just the chords used but hints of horn and a spicier tempo, but fret not – fewf, there are dashes of that all-important tremolo. Some hard-strummed acoustic give this a throatier vibe than the preceding acoustic tracks.

The Magnificent Five – This almost feels John Carpenter-esque in the in the minimalist keyboard opening, things are getting darker around here. That soothing, melting violin work comes in with some creamy lines, all underpinned by scattered percussion and that heartbeat, muted electronic kick drum.

Frank’s Theme – Upright bass guides the way for some single-note acoustic guitar lines with some atmospheric synth work in the background, a simple track that repeats at the midpoint, albeit with added organ. Very much a character piece as opposed to a fully-fledged song.

The Bridge at Eagle Falls – Bigger, tribal drums loom at the start of this, as we return to a more filmic, classic style with a lilting flute and a heroic horn section driving forwards, as a character whistles the tune underneath it all. The Bridge at Eagle Falls is certainly going to be the place for a serious gunfight!

One Hell of a Night – The final track on the first side, this has some bright strumming and very idiosyncratic slide work that feels like folks gathered around a campfire as someone noodles along. The slide combines with simple upright bass and some light ambience, “are the beans ready, yet Doc?”. At the halfway mark, a more energetic acoustic line kicks in - adding flavour - before the climbing bass and trills signal the end of the side. I do enjoy how the upright bass booms out a saucy riff as if to say “that’s all folks.” it feels like a live band jamming, and this is their sign to bring the tracks to a halt and wind them down, a nice touch.

Side II

Louisiana Voodoo – As the title suggests, this is a spooky and yet smooth ride, soft hi-hat and chiming keyboard notes ring out in a way that wouldn’t be out of touch on the mellower moments of the Deadbolt soundtrack. Slowly building to a tasteful distorted climb (with tremolo, natch), this is a groovy and understated trip through the darker parts of the West.

Back Alley Jazz – Upright bass and a delayed guitar aligned with reflective keyboard notes certainly riff in a jazz time signature here, a perfect continuation of the cool and downlow previous track. That dirty guitar returns over some quite experimental ambient work, a great two-hander to kick things off.

Into Death’s Embrace Things are getting more upbeat in tempo here, snappy percussion and 12-string guitar riffs roll along with dirty guitar bends as a backdrop, a brief and funky jam.

Burn the Queen – Back to a more electronic touch, this once again gets that muted backbeat grooving alongside some swirling horns, dainty piano, and a shuffling accent. The aching, airy inflexions that circle the heart of the track feel absolutely in tandem with what this side of the record has delivered so far in terms of jazz/avant-garde vibes.

Dirt and Blood – An ascending, clean guitar riff with a delay effect sits atop punchy bass, which is in itself in tandem with a thudding kick-drum. A very pretty track with some really nice guitar moments and even some sultry sax is thrown in for good measure.

The Trapper & The Kid - Quite an unusual, skittering intro over a looming, held piano note opens this one, ominously. Distant acoustic guitar slowly looms out of the shadow unsettlingly, over eerie keyboard notes. Eventually, a heroic guitar lurches out of the shadow to bring this strange ditty to an end.

A Cart Full of Gunpowder – the muted backbeat returns, as does the chiming, bell-like tone of a single-coil electric guitar, jamming over an upright bass that gets some room to groove here with licks and slides. The treated violin is effective as it glides over the top of the instrumentation before drums join in and it returns to a stylised version of the opening theme, this time with a moody swagger in its step.

The Wages of Pain – A call back to the tracks on the first side of the record now, classic clean be-tremoloed (definitely a word, don’t look it up) guitar over a more cinematic backdrop plays out the first half before a glorious mariachi horn solo comes in for the second half, unexpected and glorious.

A Captain of Industry – Hinting at the good old saloon-style piano, but with a twist – this track feels swooning and drunken. Piano runs and guitar chords meet with a wandering bass line and touches of violin. It feels like a dame dancing at the end of the night, when booze has gotten the best of everyone… until that gently rough guitar dovetails again with mariachi-style trumpet to really get the party started, a great jam whilst retaining that boozy vibe. Great stuff!

The Old and the New – This, the penultimate track on the album begins with wavering distortion and dozens of hand claps that feel like a whip crack in a cave, before climbing chords and a marching snare beat signify the rising costs at hand and inevitable grandeur, although tastefully understated in the delivery as the main motif gets hinted at again in a third style, this time as an epic finale.

One Good Shot – The end of the journey, One Good Shot starts with clanging church bells, high flute, and down-in-your-shoes drums, some dusty harmonics fall across the top of this scene until single, rich guitar notes sing out over the top. Sparse and statement-making, it’s not a celebration, more signifying that what had to be done, has now been done…and there were casualties along the way.

With the song lengths mostly dancing around the two-minute mark, there’s room for each track to get into its own character and throw ideas in the mix, settling on riffs, and moving through passages. It works really well here, as the songs aren’t following a traditional song structure, instead feeling like they are ‘capturing scenes’. I say again that the mastering and production really lends itself to the dusty organic instrumentation and layer upon layer of guitar, it’s an album that you can listen too loudly as the music really washes over you.

Composed by Filippo Beck Peccoz

Purchase Link

• Music composed, produced and performed by Filippo Beck Peccoz
• Limited edition translucent red / black marbled 180g vinyl
• All new original artwork by Randis Albion and graphic design by Dane Baudoin
• Hand-picked selection of songs from the 3h+ soundtrack

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