underSCORE: showcasing the music of Australian-made video games

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underSCORE: showcasing the music of Australian-made video games


If you were a teenager any time past the mid ‘90s, chances are you fostered a great appreciation for videogames.

Whether you were partial to the heyday of Mario Kart or prefer the artistic leaps and bounds that came with games such as Halo, Skyrim and COD – these games were a large part of many Aussies’ adolescence. A huge part of these games was always the score; music that moved you, alerted you, enthused you, and even made you cry at times (Kingdom Hearts, anyone?).

Audio director, music supervisor and agent Fabian Malabello has always been a huge proponent of videogames; he grew up playing them much like his peers and the children of today. As he followed in his father’s musical footsteps, this naturally progressed to an affinity for gameplay soundtracks. Now, Malabello is the founder and director of The Otherworld Agency and Boss Battle Records, an audio agency that specialises in pairing game developers with composers and sound designers, and a video game music record label.

2018 is set to be a big year for Malabello thanks to his event, underSCORE, which will take over St Kilda’s Alex Theatre for one performance in September.

“For the upcoming performance, we have scores and soundtracks from many Australian games, and to see these celebrated pieces played live is a privilege and by-product of Melbourne’s blossoming videogame scene. It’s exciting; the possibility to experience the soundtracks of these games in this medium is unprecedented in Australia.”

As is his daily grind, Malabello sought after and found the most interested and interesting orchestra to bring his idea to life; the Crescendo Orchestra. Described as a group “dedicated to bringing popular music to the forefront of the orchestral game”, this group specialise in performing in unique environments and unconventional formats.

“When we were initially asking orchestras to work with us on this project, we were met with a lot of hesitation due to the unusual nature of the musical genre. Jasen [Scott] from Crescendo was the first person to be genuinely interested in the possibilities of performing this sort of soundtrack live; he’s stepped up, and taken a real interest in the entire industry, which is very refreshing.”

To keep you engaged with strong doses of awe and nostalgia, actual gameplay will be projected behind the musicians. See yourself retracing the steps of Florence Yeoh in the calm and primary-coloured scenes of Florence, and relive the panic of trawling through dungeons in Hand of Fate. At some point throughout the night, you might even find yourself floating among the stars as NASA astronaut, Ana, while Crescendo Orchestra play Earthlight’s score.

“The gameplay will sync up as much as it can with what is being played by the orchestra. We’ve asked all of the developers to listen to the original arrangements that we’ve done, and then pick footage accordingly that we can then stitch together. It should hopefully come together pretty well.”

For Malabello, alongside countless other Australians of any age, videogames have always been a huge part of life. From playing them as a child to organising the audio-engineering of numerous Australian projects, Malabello’s companies are at the forefront of Australian video game audio.

“There were a lot of independent game developers, and very few avenues for them to find proper audio specialists for their games; so we decided to primarily niche in the full service of audio-production for videogames. We act as a bridge between creators and composers. Essentially, we’re kind of like the Tinder of audio production for video games.”

Despite the serious nature of both companies’ quests to support the development of Australian-made video games, Malabello is excited to produce a night of enjoyment and appreciation for the Aussies working hard in the blossoming game industry.

“We’ve already got many people from the industry excited about underSCORE, so I’m hoping people come out of the experience generally astonished by seeing this kind of showcase. The developers and composers will be there, so I’m expecting a few warm and fuzzies.”