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Michael Bross talks about creating the music of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Submitted by on Tuesday, 19 April 20112 Comments

While you may not be familiar with the name Michael Bross, chances are you’ve probably heard his work. As an award winning composer, he has worked on multiple video games including Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath and has a strong discography of his own.

His latest project is the upcoming PS3 exclusive Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One where he will provide more than four hours of original music for the soundtrack. We recently spoke with Bross about his involvement with the series and the gaming industry.

PS3 Attitude: There have been various composers over the years for Ratchet & Clank. Have you listened to previous Ratchet & Clank soundtracks for inspiration, or will the music in All 4 One be something completely different?

Michael Bross: I look at my work on All 4 One as evolutionary for the Ratchet and Clank series. That universe has some great music already that’s helped define what those games are about and I don’t want to ignore that.  At the same time, it’s important to also create something new and unique. I’m bringing the old and new together.

PS3A: Can you tell us what your process in creating the soundtrack is like? What kind of materials (trailers, gameplay, concept art, etc.) are you given, if any, to work with?

MB: I started this project off by having numerous discussions with a few of the key people on the team. I was also given design documents and scripts as well as concept art and gameplay videos. All these helped in forming ideas on where I needed to take the music. I also go to Insomniac’s Burbank studio a couple of times per month to play through areas of the game that are in development. Along with that, the Insomniac team is continuously feeding me gameplay footage.

PS3A: How does composing and recording music for games like Oddworld and R&C differ to your EP and album writing, such as ‘Nomad’ or ‘Subway Meditations’?

MB: With my own album and EP releases, it tends to be more exploratory and sometimes experimental. The music is in end in itself. I’m on no timeframe and finish it when I feel it’s finished or I can go no further with it.

With soundtrack work, I’m one person of many that helps makes a game. My work in this case tends to be more collaborative in the respect that I’m listening to feedback from the team and also being influenced by the game’s needs.

PS3A: How important do you feel a soundtrack is to any given videogame?

MB: It really depends on the game since there’s such a huge variety out there. Some games don’t need much of a soundtrack, if any. With other games, I couldn’t imagine experiencing those games without it.

PS3A: What is your favorite videogame? What is your favorite videogame soundtrack?

MB: I don’t have a particular favorite game or soundtrack, but some examples of what I’ve liked from the last 5 years:

A real enjoyment was playing Fable 2, which also has some really great music, by the way. Limbo is a game with amazing atmosphere. The gameMachinarium comes to mind as something very unique to me. I also have enjoyed Bioshock.

With music, the soundtrack from the original F.E.A.R. game was well done. The music was mostly understated and sparse but it worked well. Lately I’ve been listened to Jesper Kyd’s work on the latest Assassin’s Creed. It’s fantastic music for sure.

PS3A: What other upcoming projects do you have in the works besides All 4 One?

MB: For the last few years I’ve also been working on the soundtrack for Firefall, which is due out toward the end of this year. On the personal side, I’m always somewhere in the process of creating a new album or EP release. I have a couple other projects that I can’t discuss yet but keep an eye out for news on my site.

We’d like to thank Michael Bross for taking the time to talk with PS3 Attitude and look forward to hearing more of what he has to offer to the music world. More information about Bross along with samples of his work can be found on his website. You can also find him on Twitter at @brossmusic.