Minecraft - Volume Alpha


" TV and game composers, watch out "

Written by William Bard - Review of the download only release

Indie composer C418 (real name, Daniel Rosenfeld) really hit his big break with Minecraft, the award-winning sandbox building game for various platforms. For those of you don’t know, Minecraft has a uniquely retro feel, in comparison to the other games of today. It is highly “pixelated” and its simplicity feels more like a high quality blast from the past than it does a poorly made modern video game. Being a player of the game, myself, I can attest to the fact that C418’s music does indeed do its job well.

“Fur” sets the atmosphere, before segueing into the much more captivating “Door”. This track introduces the four-note motif that is essentially the main theme of Minecraft. It has a rather oriental sound to it, and its origination in the flutes is quite well done. C418 makes exceptional use of synthesizer both in this track and abroad; it is worth noting that I feel more convinced by his shameless synthesizers in this score than I really ever have by synthesizers in main stream scores. And that’s really saying something. “Subwoofer Lullaby” is quite aquatic and ethereal in sound, and introduces a new theme. “Death” is primarily a sound effects track, showcasing the sounds of the main character hunting a chicken, accompanied by more lullaby-like music.

It is curious that the title track, “Minecraft”, is placed around halfway through the album. This cue presents the main four-note theme of Minecraft all throughout, with synthesized strings weaving their way in and out of the texture. Bells also join in later on, as the strings fade away, finally leaving the original four-note motif naked and unaccompanied as it gradually tapers off. Sadly, a majority of the ensuing tracks on the album are all relatively unmemorable synthesizer/electronic cues (“Living Mice”, “Oxygène”, “Équinoxe”, “Haggstrom”, “Clark”, “Chris”, “Thirteen”, “Excuse”, “Sweden”, “Cat”, “Dog”, “Danny”, “Beginning”, “Droopy Likes Ricochet”, “Droopy Likes Your Face”) which present nothing inherently new to the listeners’ ears, save for perhaps a few inventive uses of percussion, strings, and various electronic sounds.

“Mice On Venus”, on the other hand, is a fantastic contrast from the other offerings of this score; a solo piano heartwrenchingly introduces yet another theme, which builds up to more synthesized strings and otherwise electronic music, before resting on a very resolvent chord. This leads us to believe that the track is finished, yet it is not; violins initiate an entirely new sequence, which in my opinion doesn’t fit well at all with the previously heard music of the track. It would have been much better had it been split into two separate tracks. “Dry Hands” and “Wet Hands” feature more melodic piano writing akin to “Mice On Venus”, though the second of the two is by far the more inspired cue, and is really quite relaxing.

In conclusion, the simplicity of both this game and its score has proved to be a real winner in this age where the most high-tech, high definition media tends to grab the spotlight; Minecraft is quite a breath of fresh air from the other games and scores of its time. It may not have the most melodically interesting music out there, but C418’s mastery of the synthesizer/electronic genre would likely give most of today’s TV composers a scare of losing their jobs. This is believable music, and that’s what it really has going for it. Thank goodness that the album title, “Volume Alpha”, implies that this is but the first installment in Minecraft’s musical identity; hopefully there are more on their way!

It must also be noted that C418’s humility really shines through, here: whereas the score is sold on iTunes for a standard soundtrack price of $9.99, C418 sells the release as a download from his own personal website at a real bargain of only $3.99, with the option of paying more, but as a donation. I’d suggest you do as I did, and chip in an extra dollar or two directly to the composer. He deserves it. Not to mention that the album art is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. Well done, C418.


1. Fur (1.05)
2. Door (1.51) Excellent track
3. Subwoofer Lullaby (3.28)
4. Death (0.41)
5. Living Mice (2.57)
6. Moog City (2.40)
7. Haggstrom (3.24)
8. Minecraft (4.14)
9. Oxygène (1.05)
10. Équinoxe (1.54)
11. Mice On Venus (4.41) Excellent track
12. Dry Hands (1.08)
13. Wet Hands (1.30) Excellent track
14. Clark (3.11)
15. Chris (1.27)
16. Thirteen (2.56)
17. Excuse (2.04)
18. Sweden (3.35)
19. Cat (3.06
20. Dog (2.25)
21. Danny (4.14)
22. Beginning (1.42)
23. Droopy Likes Ricochet (1.36)
24. Droopy Likes Your Face (1.56)

Total Length: 58:48
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 16 votes - average 4.03/5)

Released by

C418 (download only release 2011)