We’re only a few weeks away from Returnal’s release. But today you can get a taste of what awaits on Atropos in the form of the game’s first track, named – aptly enough, considering the circumstances that bring Selene to the alien planet – Crash. It as well as the rest of the soundtrack is the creation of Bobby Krlic. The British musician has a multitude of high-profile credits in his career to date. Alongside performing under stage name The Haxan Cloak, Krlic also composed the soundtrack of 2019 cinematic horror Midsommar.
In Returnal, Krlic renders a bristling, malevolent soundscape that pairs perfectly with the weaponized planet and the tenacious ASTRA scout who finds herself trapped in the dark heart of a cosmic mystery. On April 30, the Returnal album will be released alongside the game as part of the Digital Deluxe Edition, and will come to streaming platforms on May 7. But rather than simply replicating the game’s score, the album features a unique set of mixes created especially for the format by Krlic.
You can listen to The Crash below (and from various other sources here), and afterwards read our interview with the composer as he details the creative process behind that track and the rest of the game’s music. If you prefer your interviews fed straight into your ears, the chat will also appear in the latest PlayStation Podcast, going live later today.
When did you come on board the project?
To the best of my memory, I think Sony reached out to me in around July 2019. I started writing demos as soon as August, September, after those initial conversations.
What was the elevator pitch of what this game would be, or the soundscape they were looking for?
There was a deck that was sent. You know; a brief description of the narrative, and then some renderings of characters, levels and that kind of thing. We didn’t get deep into the weeds. It was more giving an overview and seeing if there was, you know, some common interests there.
Were those demos in the right ballpark, and you refined from there?
Yeah. We had a good two months of back and forth. Just sending things and discussing those and extrapolating elements from them, quickly finding which things didn’t [and which did] from both of us, it was about, you know, trying to carve out space, trying to do a kind of sci-fi horror that hopefully hasn’t really been done before.
Horror is something that you have experience in, but creating a wholly unique alien world? What’s your starting point for creating this whole new soundscape?
I’ll try and do the same thing with, with most scoring projects. Gather as many materials as I can, ask for as much information as people are willing to give me and then, you know, just kind of soak myself in that. Just create without thinking about anything too specific, really, just really try and get in the zone of what the world is. Try and place myself there if I can, and then you know, just press record and play everything for a long time until things seem to be conjuring up the same feeling that I’m getting from the materials.