Grant Kirkhope ‎– Viva Piñata

3 out of 5

Label: iam8bit

Produced by: Grant Kirkhope

Rare Games’ composer companion Grant Kirkhope’s score for “life simulation” Viva Piñata is exactly what the game calls for.  You tend to and care for anthropomorphed piñatas, and while I can’t claim to have done much more than read the wiki on the game and watch some videos, my take is that the experience is meant to be rather calming, and so Kirkhope’s music fits that bill.  There are some moments of escalation amongst the 35 tracks, towards the end of the A- and B-sides, but they’re not so much boss fight peaks as they are underscoring Disney-type villain machinations, or punctuating moments of triumph.  Elsewhere, Grant weaves through very pastoral, sunny tunes, vaguely reminiscent of aforementioned Disney flicks – but think hand-drawn, Bambi-era orchestrations – and then sprinkles them with occasional wiggles off the beaten path – but just for a moment, just a little wry smile, indicative of his jauntier fare from more platform-y games.  This is all works very well – at least toward that calming m.o. – but the LP’s many tracks don’t frankly offer much variation across the whole runtime, or at least not enough for a casual listen or two to divine much separation, and the memorable theme that is present is very fitting for the opening of a game, which kinda makes the score feel like it’s starting fresh on every iteration of that theme.

Iam8bit’s packaging is textured, and pretty, and the whole thing feels very in-line with the game, but as is usually the case with the company, the packaging is also rather hollow – there’s nothing else to it, just song titles and art – and the recording isn’t especially notable, though I’m not inflicted with surface noise some have reported.