There’s a temptation to link to the score to the recent video game hit Bioshock and to not mention that it is, in fact, the music for a violent, shoot’em’up at all and to instead just pay attention to the sounds themselves — how wind-like noise fills in the background of the strings on the opening theme, only to be matched by what sounds like a piano impersonating thunder; how on a track titled “Dr. Steinman” shrill violins buzz like an invaded hive; how on “The Docks” the sound of creaking boards mix with distant sea-shanty snippets and overlays of orchestral dissonance. With the exception of a handful of tracks that emphasize underscoring — the somnolent layering of strings on “Empty Houses,” the variations of tuned cacophony that constitute “This Is Where They Sleep” — this is only background music in the literal sense, in that it serves as background music for an entertainment. Still, the music, composed by Garry Schyman, has much to its credit, as do the game’s developers for selecting something other than the standard digital percussion and synthetic ambiance.
A dozen cues from the score are available as a single Zip archive from the Bioschock website (Zip). I came upon the tracks thanks to a mention in the music section of scifi.com. There’s a solid interview with the game’s audio designer, Emily Ridgway, at music4games.net, in which she talks about the Bioshock‘s unlikely orchestral music, its equally unlikely use of mid-century tunes like “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” by Patti Page and “Papa Loves Mambo” by Perry Como, and how work by John Cage and Bernard Herrmann, among others, figured in stages of the game’s production. More info at 2kgames.com/bioshock and at garryschyman.com.