AlterniaBound, by the Homestuck Music Team

09-alterniabound

Released March 15, 2011

1 hr, 14 min, 7 sec

Yesterday, I mentioned that today’s album tied much more into Homestuck‘s narrative than yesterday’s, mostly because most of the songs on this album are used in Flash panels in the comic during the course of Act 5, Act 1. This makes AlterniaBound a more traditional Homestuck album, along the lines of the primary volume series, slotting in between Volumes 6 (mostly representing Act 4) and 7 (mostly representing Act 5, Act 2). Like the comic itself, however, AlterniaBound is specifically designed to be separate from the albums that precede and succeed it, by way of focusing on the trolls introduced in Act 5.

In a musical sense, this is represented by a move towards synthesized instruments as opposed to purely electronic sounds, though a casual listener would be hard pressed to realize that such songs were synthesized, rather than played with live instruments, because here they are much more convincing than any album preceding it. There are songs that deviate from this, of course, but for the most part, there’s a lot of “real” instrumentation going on, with more traditional compositions than Homestuck‘s readers had come to expect since the comic’s beginnings.

In narrative terms, Act 5, Act 1 is framed as a reboot of the comic, focusing on the trolls instead of the human characters that readers were familiar with. Parallelism and repeating themes and structures are a common fixture of Homestuck, though such callbacks had never been done as extensively as seen in Act 5, Act 1, where entire swaths of the comic’s first Act were repeated (in a tongue-in-cheek manner, usually) during Act 5, Act 1, interspersed with the ongoing narrative that continued in it. This section of the comic is even referred to (unofficially) as Hivebent, a name taken from the first Flash panel of this Act, to further illustrate the separation from the main comic that the Act had.

Act 5, Act 2 unifies the comic’s two narratives, as the humans and trolls collide, becoming co-protagonists (and antagonists, in some cases) for the remainder of the comic, concluding in the iconic Cascade Flash animation that brought Act 5 to a close. Similarly, Volume 7 of Homestuck‘s main soundtrack unified the sounds introduced in AlterniaBound with the more electronic focus of the first six volumes.

Like Alternia, AlterniaBound‘s got a lot going on in its songs. Several of them feature upbeat instrumentation alongside unusual samples (such as a sample of David Tennant as the Doctor from Doctor Who explaining how time travel works in “Arisen Anew” and various horse samples in “Horschestra STRONG Version”), while more serious, intense tracks almost exclusively use synthesized “real” instrumentation, such as pianos and string instruments such as violins and cellos. These synthesized instruments characterize the entire album, as mentioned above.

As I said yesterday, Homestuck albums are not in my regular rotation, mostly because I use instrumental music as background music when I work, and I tend to find Homestuck albums to be too “busy” in terms of instrumentation. These albums tend to demand active listening despite ostensibly being the backdrop of Flash animations. Because of that, I focus more on the album than whatever I’m working on, which in turn means the work doesn’t get done.

Despite that, however, Homestuck‘s author, Andrew Hussie, has done a phenomenal job of curating a team of musicians that consistently put out top-notch music, both for the comic and for these albums, and it’s great that they are spotlighted in these album releases.

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