by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
This album’s a pretty big deal to me for a few reasons. First, I adore piano collections. I have quite a few of them now, and they never get old. I remember collecting Final Fantasy piano collections years back, and I loved every one of them. The second reason being, I adored Harvest Moon. Somehow, despite enjoying that game tremendously, I have not spent any real time with Stardew Valley. Hell, I own it on at least one platform, probably more! The curse of being in games journalism, I suppose. But listening to these songs made me want to play, so I installed it and plan to make time to play, whether on stream or not. The third being that Eric Barone himself gave approval for the album (creator of Stardew Valley), and I think that’s wonderful. I have the quote below where they talk about it. This collection of Stardew Valley piano masterpieces were arranged by Matthew Bridgham and performed by Augustine Mayuga Gonzales. Materia Collective continues to blow me away with the talent they have producing this music. Also kudos to the original composer of the music. I went back to listen to the Stardew Valley OST after this, and, man. Now I really want to enjoy some soothing farming.
“Three bonus tracks were added after getting official approval from the man himself, Eric Barone (ConcernedApe),” comments arranger Matthew Bridgham. “He was so excited for this album that one night he sent us the then-unreleased music from the update. I was, of course, happy to oblige, arranging these three the same evening. But my job felt easy. Nearly every piece from Stardew fit the hands beautifully, hitting close to home.”
Winter (The Wind Can Be Still) (Track 17): Winter is my favorite season, and funny enough, this is probably my favorite track on the album. It’s slow, quiet, and really the title really works well with this style of piano playing. It starts nice and slow as if snow were gently falling outside and picks up a nice, steady deliberate pace about halfway through. It was hard to pick between Nocturne of Ice, and The Wind Can Be Still, though. Winter can be a cold, cruel, unforgiving month, and the turn of lower, harder played notes fits that role nicely. The gentle chiming of the higher notes overlaid across these lower notes is really fascinating. Even if winter is difficult and hard, much like life is, the spring is just around the corner. This song kind of felt like I would hear it in Mother 2, or maybe My Time In Portia.
Spring (Wild Horseradish Jam) (Track 4): How can I not like a song called “Wild Horseradish Jam”? As I sat here listening to this song, I realized how little I know about Stardew Valley, but I want to correct that. I wondered if this song is named for an actual type of Jam (I prefer grape jelly, but that’s me), or was a dance or something of that nature. I could see it being a dance song, but more likely one where the hero is wandering around out in nature. It definitely has that “We’re new at this but doing our best” sound. There’s a lot on the plate of the hero of Stardew Valley, I did learn that Wild Horseradish is found in the Springtime of Stardew Valley, so, huzzah! I learned something new. One of the longer songs on the album, it has a solid deliberate style, notes played firmly. The staccato here was very lovely.
Mines (Crystal Bells) (Track 9): Mines (Crystal Bells) feels like you’re down in a mine, and I appreciate that sort of attention to detail. It’s very slow, quiet, with occasional dips into louder, lower notes. And with a name like “Crystal Bells”, I imagine there’s something majestic hidden down in these mines, which coincides with the louder, higher-pitched notes utilized in the piece. All this album has done is to make me want to play Stardew Valley, which I imagine is one of the goals. Well, it worked. While the piece begins very simple and quiet, it picks up complexity and tempo a bit towards the end of the track, where I can only imagine the explorer has come to the greater depths of the mines.
This was a very fun album to review, but it was incredibly hard (as per usual) to pick a few tracks to highlight. There is 22 total on the album, and all are worth listening to. You can find this album on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify, and there are also limited CD formats.