(Art by SaffronScarf)
(How does THIS article count as “Movie Club”? What? Meh, let’s just go along with it.)
After the pretty scathing article I wrote about Homestuck last week, I wanted to focus on the most obviously-positive aspect of the whole of Homestuck, which is of course the music. Out of everything that has stuck with me from Homestuck over the past five and a half years since I started reading it, its amazing soundtrack, its Music Team, and the fan music community surrounding it have been a near-permanent fixture. And here’s just a few of the many reasons why:
Incredible and Diverse Talent
The people on the Homestuck Music Team were (are) great and they made (make great stuff. While the Music Team started out as almost entirely college-age young adult men, the diversity I’m talking about is in the sheer range of music that they put out.
Compare these songs and see just what I mean:
It’s pretty astounding. The Music Team had about twenty members over the course of its 25+ albums, and there was an amazing range of musical styles and genres represented because of that. The difference between songs on albums was never jarring as many compilation albums can be, which is even more impressive when you think about how an album like Homestuck Volume 9 has GameGrl and Lancer and still feels like a cohesive whole.
It really sucks that the Music Team was all but abandoned in the later years of Homestuck’s run, and many of the musicians involved have not had much output since then. But from Volume 1 to Cherubim, it was a very good run, and I very much doubt that we’ve seen the end of the Music Team anyway (considering there are songs in Homestuck that still haven’t been collected in an album, among other obvious clues).
Themes and Leitmotifs
One of the Homestuck soundtrack’s defining elements is the way it can take character melodies and themes, and carry them through dozens (and many dozens in some cases) of successive tracks. Look at the list of Homestuck songs that reference other songs and gape at how expansive it is. It’s crazy.
Just think of all the classic tunes and motifs that Homestuck has had over the past seven years (like half of which were created by George Buzinkai, Mark Hadley, and Toby Fox):
[Insert Penumbra Phantasm here]
Of course, that’s only some of the most famous ones. There’s so many more classic tunes in the Homestuck soundtrack that it’d be nearly impossible to list them all.
Though all the main Volume albums are fantastic, the Music Team was at its best when it came together to create collaborative concept albums. The very first album was Midnight Crew, which was taken from the idea of a “fake band” made up of the Midnight Crew characters themselves playing their favorite dark jazz.
That idea was expanded as time went on, with the Music Team creating such concept albums as Squiddles (one of my favorites):
And The Wanderers:
Even as the Music Team’s final* album released in March of 2013, we still got a fantastically-produced concept album with Cherubim, possibly their best effort in the entire comic’s run.
The Music Team didn’t always work together on these massive projects; oftentimes they would make their own solo albums based around a theme or concept, and every single one of them turned out really well. My favorites were the ones that took you on a journey, telling a grand story through the songs and usually forcing me to listen to the entire album all the way through after hearing one of the songs.
Mobius Trip & Hadron Kaleido, a mysterious part of the Homestuck canon, is about two individuals. Not much is known about them aside from the vague description on the album page and the songs themselves, but the album still gives you a trip (a Mobius Trip… haha… I’m so funny) through Paradox Space like no other. MT&HK also has a dedicated cult fanbase, and even has its own Tumblr fan page.
Prospit & Derse is a musical guide through, well, Prospit and Derse. Though it’s specifically the Prospit and Derse from John, Jade, Rose, and Dave’s session, and uses many of their musical motifs (as well as Penumbra Phantasm at one point).
One Year Older is the concept album to end all concept albums, going through the life of John Egbert from the beginning of the comic all the way to the end (well, the end that was still mostly-unknown by the point the album released in 2012). It’s a must-listen for any Homestuck fan, no matter how casual or how disgruntled.
Fan Music Extravaganza
The fan music community for Homestuck is something that no non-videogame fandom could even imagine comparing itself to. Because in the beginning of the fandom, the Music Team was rapidly adding members who were creating good fan music, the amount of people testing their abilities shot up tenfold. Even once the Music Team had more or less settled, the fan music community continued to grow, culminating not only in its own “generic Sburb session” concept album and a Beforus-based concept album, but three unofficial fan “volume” albums, two official ones, and hundreds upon hundreds of other songs from hundreds of people (at least). Just look at the skaia.net page for fan albums; it’s some massive stuff.
For an example of how fantastic the fan music community is, there’s no more perfect example than A Lunatic Daydream’s master track, Back to Life:
The Music Team Outside of Homestuck
Not all the Music Team members have a ton of work outside of Homestuck, but some do, and some of it is crazy good. I’m about to spam a bunch of album links, and that’s because there are simply too many for me to decide from. This is in no way comprehensive, so the onus is on you to find all the best Music Team solo work and bring it to the world (especially since some of it never sold that well :( )
The lesson from all of this is that the Music Team is great, alone or together, but the true lesson is that Michael Guy Bowman should be taken hostage and forced to create music for the rest of his natural life (please don’t actually do this, just buy his albums).
tl;dr, Homestuck music is the best and you should listen to all of it.
This was a really broad overview of the Music Team in general, but one day I might do more in-depth looks at specific Music Team members and such. That’d be some fun stuff, maybe.