Examining OBUXUM's 'Bravery Network Online' OST
A deconstruction of the exciting multi-talented producer's catalog, from early instrumental efforts to full-length video game compositions.
Hailing from Toronto, Somali-Canadian producer OBUXUM first caught my ear with cuts like “SHAAH IYO SHEEKO” from her 2015 sophomore release Luul. When I interviewed her for the first time in 2017 I appreciated her inspiring words about the innate creative spirit we all carry within us. “I feel like every single person is born creative, but not many people have the opportunity to explore their different creative niches and then turn that into art,” she told me.
When we spoke again in late 2017 to dissect her URBNET debut H.E.R it was clear that her career was really starting to take off. The opener “HE(R)STORY” set the tone for the entire project and challenged “the idea of patriarchy” while emphasising the importance of “allowing women to create their own stories from their perspective.” Other highlight moments like the hypnotic “PU$$Y POWAH” demonstrated a new level of confidence and artistry.
OBUXUM’s 2019 album Re-Birth once again marked an important new chapter in her career, as the instrumental project earned a Bandcamp Daily “Album of the Day” feature and praise from her peers. “Re-Birth does sound like a succinct project made up of multiple little worlds,” Diamond Sharp wrote in her August 2019 review. “Obuxum’s world-building is seamless, and taken together, the songs feel like one long track.”
When OBUXUM tweeted out a screen capture of her work for the online game Bravery Network in April 2020 it marked another new and exciting career opportunity. With video game scores frequently fitting in the same stylistic zone as beat tapes/instrumental albums, the role of video game composer seemed like a natural progression.
The clip she shared was compelling, but the music also deserved an official release so fans could experience it as a standalone soundtrack. Last month OBUXUM and the folks at Bravery Network decided to make that happen by putting out the official eight-track OST that’s now available on Bandcamp.
Music journalist Casey Jarman continued his streak of indispensable video game music coverage by including Bravery Network Online Soundtrack in his brand new article “The Best Video Game Music on Bandcamp: January/February 2021,” telling readers “It all sounds golden and mysterious. The only problem I can find with the Bravery Network Online score is that there isn’t enough of it.”
“The Stadium” showcases OBUXUM’s dexterity as a producer, as she shifts effortlessly between the happy, uptempo feeling of the song’s opening to more serious vibes around the 50-second mark before finally reversing course back to the original tone. All the while she meticulously layers in different sounds and textures to keep the listener engaged.
“Simulation Room” is an all-encompassing, immersive experience, with the OBUXUM guiding the listener through effortless and unexpected changeups in sound and style. Like the other songs included in this OST, the brief run time keeps the experience pithy and powerful.
“Deep House” may be a personal favorite as it evokes vintage video game vibes without feeling the least bit derivative. Instead, OBUXUM builds on the sonic foundations of the past while bringing them into the present with her own distinct twist.
Finally, the smooth nostalgia of “Cafe” feels like the perfect closing note for OBUXUM’s debut score. It will likely have listeners hitting the rewind button once they realize the album is over.
Time will tell if OBUXUM decides to further explore the artistic world of video game composition. With the abundance of games in the modern market there are certainly ample opportunities to do so. This seems like a great opportunity to carve a unique niche while finding different ways to connect with new audiences and listeners.
No matter what comes next, Bravery Network Online Soundtrack is another impressive entry in her steadily growing catalog.
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