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Thrill Jockey
Thrill-617 - 2024

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Brian Gibson is an artist and composer whose career is defined by uncompromising creativity. As the bassist for legendary duo Lightning Bolt or as a composer and artist on video games, Gibson consistently tests boundaries by injecting wonder and excitement into his singular body of work. Gibson’s 2016 release Thumper, produced by Drool, was an award-winning smash hit game and soundtrack. Thrasher is Gibson’s triumphant return to VR, a fantastical whirlwind co-created with Mike Mandell via their partnership Puddle. The soundtrack harnesses Gibson’s otherworldly visions with bright musical clarity, trading the “rhythmic violence” of Thumper for expansive and sublime atmospheres punctured by cascading, serpentine arpeggios embodied by otherworldly creatures.

Gibson and Mandel call the game “a mind-melting arcade action odyssey and visceral audiovisual experience.” The game was designed as an immersive virtual reality experience following a kind of evolving space centipede from “crawling from the depths of primordial gloom to the heights of celestial bliss, culminating in a heart-pounding reckoning with a cosmic baby god.” Gibson’s start in game designing began at Harmonix working on tentpole titles like Guitar Hero and Rock BandThrasher breaks from Gibson’s history in rhythm-centered games. Arpeggiated synths and undulating textural loops mimic the segmented art style of the centipede, as well as the game’s more open and nuanced emotional core. Through these intricate sequences, Gibson imbues the soundtrack’s ceaseless propulsion with melodic mystery and tensions. The crystalline twirl of “Magenta Machine” expands and contracts like a living, breathing biosphere. Tracks like album opener “Metal Maze” and “Mica” harken back to the trance-inflected movements of Lightning Bolt’s Hypermagic Mountain. The existential dread of Thumper carries over to pieces like “Timekeepers” and “Mad Moon,” but across the album Gibson infuses that dread with an equal share of awe.

Thrasher’s world is wholly invented. In turn, the music follows its own singular structures emulating the dynamic experience of the game. “I prefer games that make their own reality," says Gibson. "I’d like to be transported as far from this one as possible. I think of it a little bit like the state when you are falling asleep and you start to have abstract dreams and you wake up and can’t remember them because the experience went beyond language. Ideally a game is difficult to describe in that way. But like Pac-Man, when you play it, it’s obvious what you are supposed to do.” Gibson connects this approach to his roots in Providence’s burgeoning arts scene, specifically Lightning Bolt’s storied home and warehouse space Fort Thunder. Gibson elaborates: “A lot of the artists at Fort Thunder shared a kind of underground comic aesthetic that Thumper was influenced by... Thrasher is a further exploration into some of those motifs.”

Thrasher’s soundtrack is driven equally by adventurous, ambitious curiosity and inventive and highly skilled musicianship. Captivating visuals of wintry landscapes, thrilling boss fights, and deep dives into fantastical vistas are enhanced and expanded by Brian Gibson’s uniquely inventive and expansive music. Thrasher synthesizes feeling and motion into a profound, all-encompassing atmosphere, an electrifying experience to engulf oneself in.



  • 1 Metal Maze
  • 2 Magenta Machine
  • 3 Monolith
  • 4 Mist
  • 5 Mica
  • 6 Timekeepers
  • 7 Metal Maze II
  • 8 Maelstrom
  • 9 Melting Menace
  • 10 Magma Skull
  • 11 Mica II
  • 12 Mad Moon

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