The Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart soundtrack is so special to me and none of this would have happened without the participation of Scott Hanau, music producer from SIE, so we asked him to co-write this blog.
At the start of our search for the perfect composer for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, we discussed the pillars of music and landed on:
Epic – to be able to create soaring compositions that elevate the action of the game.
Lightness – Do not be too serious because it is a franchise and do not take yourself too seriously, but also not to be openly “crazy”, because the humor in the music can easily become caricatured.
Unexpected – because the universe of Ratchet & Clank is all about the mash-up / duality nature of combining ideas into unexpected outcomes, we wanted someone comfortable with the unusual and the surprising.
Themes – Ratchet & Clank never really had a theme, a musical motif that players could hum and say, “I have the Ratchet theme stuck in my head!”
Strength in Numbers (left to right): Jasper LeMaster and Nick Spezia of Ocean Way Nashville, Anthony Caruso and Ernest Johnson of PlayStation Studios Music, Mark Mothersbaugh, Scott Hanau, Marcus Smith, Keith Leary (sheet music producer, PlayStation Studios Music), Insomniac’s Dwight Okahara, Chuck Doud (Senior Director, PlayStation Studios Music), Wataru Hokoyama and Tim Davies (conductor)
Scott suggested the work of Mark Mothersbaugh (DEVO, The Lego movie, Aquatic life with Steve Zissou, Thor: Ragnarok) because these pillars are common elements of his work. It suited perfectly. So we started looking for people who could hit similar tones. After comparing dozens of potential composers to our mainstays, however, Scott suggested, “instead of finding someone like Mark Mothersbaugh, why don’t we just ask Mark? “I didn’t think that was a possibility, but in a week or so we introduced Mark to the game (with Wataru Hokoyama from Mutato Muzika) and exchange: “Is this really happening?” looks while desperately trying to act like professionals.
Inside the sacred room at Ocean Way Studios, the string sections end Rift Apart’s final orchestral recording session.
Scott Hanau: With Mark and his team on board, we quickly got to work from both creative and technical angles. Armed with the latest treatment in Marcus’ story, Mark began producing a first batch of themes. Having worked on games before, he was already accustomed to creating compositions that were both evocative and memorable, while providing the depth and versatility needed to accommodate an open playing experience. Several weeks later, we received a first batch of music that included not only our main theme “Rift Apart” but also the theme of Dr. Nefarious and the basics of Clank puzzles and pocket dimensions. A huge success to say the least.
Mark continued to produce tons of killer tracks based purely on inspiration and concept art, at one point worrying us that he might get too far ahead of the rest of the production. Having to ask such a prolific artist to “slow down” is definitely a difficult career time.
While the score for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is mostly rooted in orchestral and electronic elements, unexpected instruments such as concertina, pirate vocals, choir, guitar, conch, theremin and more often provide unique sonic backdrops to every place. Mark even used some of his signature synths, such as a mini-moog and Oberheim TVS-1, which have been featured on classic DEVO albums.
It’s a wrap. The last day of the last orchestral recording session of Rift Apart. The brass section ends it with emphasis.
Marcus: In February 2020, just before the lockdown started here in the United States, we did our first string and brass orchestra recording session in Nashville, TN at Ocean Way Studios. However, a month later we were all separated, working from home. We recorded two more sessions at Ocean Way, but everyone (apart from the musicians, who followed strict security measures
Scott: After recording, the PlayStation Studios Music team edits the countless individual takes through to the final mixes and stems, which are then edited into thousands of assets and integrated into a smooth music experience. Most of this has happened under the unpredictability of COVID. Not only did the majority of the mixing, editing, integration and testing take place while working from home, but we’ve all reinvented the way we do our jobs at the same time. It’s difficult circumstances to navigate, but a worthwhile pursuit along the way.
We sincerely hope you enjoy the game and the brilliant musical score created by Mark and Wataru. The official soundtrack is available now on all major digital music services, and keep an eye out for an epic vinyl edition that will slip down the Milan Records loophole.
The full game soundtrack is also included with the Ratchet & Clank Deluxe Digital Edition: Rift Apart. Pre-order now from PlayStation Store. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart arrives exclusively on PlayStation 5 consoles this Friday, June 11.