Yesterday you got 3/6ths of Jonathan Barkan’s Exclusive interview with Dead Space 2 composer Jason Graves. Well, now you get the other half. I was lucky enough to interview Jason about Dead Space Extraction, and he spills his guts to us once more about the wonderful world of Dead Space.
Check out the 1st part of the interview HEREand check out the rest past the break! BD: The Church of Unitology plays a much bigger role in Dead Space 2. Did you draw upon the musical motifs associated with Church music and religious hymns at all?
Jason: There are some religious overtones in the Unitology music, but in a more twisted, Dead Space-y sort of way. Since the music for Dead Space is all about texture, I chose a few instruments that, when combined, created an interesting religious texture. There’s a lot of choir, but they’re not singing a Requiem Mass or anything traditional or tonal like that.
It was more about the texture of the choir; that immediately recognizable sound of human voices. But was is that they’re singing? You’re not really sure, of course, because this is Dead Space! I also used a lot of different kinds of bells and chimes with the choir, which to my ears gave it a mysterious quality without crossing over into the cliche world of organs or hymns.
BD: The music for the first Dead Space was very organic and relied very heavily upon orchestral instruments. Is it the same with Dead Space 2?
Jason: Absolutely. My mantra for the Dead Space 2 score was “the same, yet different, yet better.” I wanted to pick up right where the first one left off, in regards to exploring different and interesting textures with the orchestra. There were three different recording sessions, each focused on different ensembles within the orchestra. I’ve always liked the idea of recording natural, organic instruments performing crazy, experimental textures for the Dead Space series.
In my mind, the sounds I create are the equivalent of “musical Necromorphs.” The music is horrific and otherworldly, yet rooted in the world of real instruments and a traditional classical orchestra. So you’ve got the dichotomy of naturally occurring sounds and instruments that have been organically twisted and combined into frightening musical amalgams, much like the Necromorphs themselves.
BD: What instrument do you think best represents Isaac and why?
Jason: There’s a duality and fairly extreme character arc Isaac undergoes this time around. He’s battle-hardened from his previous experiences but still trying to resolve his guilt over Nicole’s death. He’s literally haunted by her memory. There are moments when Isaac is emotionally vulnerable, trying hard to work through all of these issues.
I chose to use a string quartet to portray Isaac’s vulnerability, and especially focused on the solo cello as his “voice” in those pieces. It’s one of my favorite instruments in the orchestra, mostly because it has such an extreme range, both in the dynamics and texture of the notes.
The main theme for Dead Space 2, which really is Isaac’s theme, is D-E-A-D; a not-so-novel but intriguing approach for me. It is always performed by the solo cello in the quartet pieces, but of course in a very quiet, reflective sort of way. In other moments of the game, it can be heard with shrieking woodwinds or low, menacing brass. The theme becomes more and more “at peace” with itself as Isaac struggles to come to terms with his own reality.
I think it’s a musically effective choice, which also keeps me happy since it’s one of my favorite instruments. I figure with everything Isaac and I have been through together, he would probably agree.