Dolorosa Lachrymosa is Dark Ambient, neo-classical Gothic music featuring the haunting of vocals of Sarah Black, conceived as a video game soundtrack, inspired by games like Bloodborne.
Grief and Tears
Dolorosa Lachrymosa was composed and recorded during the winter of 2017-2018. The dark ambient album features Sarah’s vocals, a smattering of synthesizer textures, and not much else; we both feel the results are quite impressive.
Sarah recorded the project at Studio Valentine Wolfe, located as of this writing (March 21, 2018) in Greenville, South Carolina. Sarah uses an Audio Technica AT2020 into Logic Pro X via an Apogee Duet, and mixed the project with a bit of input from Braxton.
All songs composed and performed by Sarah Black. Produced by Sarah Black Input and encouragement provided by Braxton Ballew Mastered by Corwyn Bellavich.
Sarah writes: I have always wanted to write a video game soundtrack. I started Dolorosa Lachrymosa with no actual video game in the works. I had a story idea, but that was all. I decided to go ahead and start writing the music for it anyway and figured if a game comes out of this eventually that will be awesome, but if not, I still wanted to do the soundtrack. Then I met a young man at a convention where his parents were musical performers and he said he might like to help me make this game! So there may be a game in the works! Here is some of the story he’s written as a guide so far:
The angelic and demonic have been at war for longer than anyone can remember. Once, both sides were in mutual peace, but it is nearly impossible to imagine that now. The mortal world has been ravaged and humans are scattered, scared, and in hiding. They cannot take sides as they are weak.
The angels originally had a natural affinity for humans, some still do, but the many outweigh the few. Morals are pitifully useless, caught in the middle of a war they cannot participate in, yet their deaths spawn the ageless fighters that surround their lives. With that knowledge, many human camps have been made to condition and train mortals so when they die- they are almost always set to one specific side.
When mortals die, they are given the choice to either become immortal, become reincarnated, or pass on to the, “other side”.
Immortals start as either demons or monsters. Angels seek out fresh demons and recruit them if they are willing. Demons and monsters live forever and need no sustenance until killed. Because what they have become is their soul, they are fully destroyed when killed.
I am very excited to be writing this music! So far I have written several cues that I think make for good “Angel” cues because of all the vocal layering and the soothing atmosphere. I still need to write more fight scenes so that is what I’ll be working on next!
If the names of the tracks seem familiar to you, it is because I am using names of Angels and Demons from various lore and literary sources. I am trying to really match up the atmosphere of the track with attributes normally associated with those names. Obviously, in the game, these tracks might be paired up with different characters. But for now, just enjoy the atmospheric music!
I have been having fun working on these Dolorosa Lachrymosa cues by myself while my bass player has been busy with symphony stuff. But now I am starting to miss metal! As fun as it has been to write atmospheric vocal layers I will be so excited to get back to writing some metal! I think I am nearing the end of this soundtrack project. Although what I’m going to release will just be a soundtrack for now. There may be a game to go with all this sometime in the future and at that point I will possibly need to make some changes to these cues. I ended up writing way more calm and soothing music than what could work better for fight scenes. So the game will either have really boring fight scenes (which will be the fault of my music) or else I’ll need to really beef those up. I still have a couple more ideas I’d like to try out and then I need to work on some editing. But once this is all ready, I would love it if some writers would take a listen and see what this music does for the writing process!
Braxton writes: gaming has been a lifelong, if not sporadic, activity for me, beginning with my older sister’s Atari 2600 all the way to my PS4, which works great for my filthy casual needs. The atmosphere aspect of our metal songs has struck me as not too far off from the music I hear in video games. In particular, Bloodborne, Witcher 3, and Horizon: Zero Dawn have all had music that is compelling enough to listen to outside the context of the game.
Especially Bloodborne. Once I’d played that recording, I could tell the wheels started turning. One amazing thing about Sarah is that (channeling the lyrics of Rush) she “can’t stop thinking big”.
In this case, this means while she wanted to write a video game soundtrack, not allowing the minor fact that there is not (again, as of this writing) a game to go with the score stop her from creating the music she wanted to hear.
While we never intended to leave the bass off this project, and indeed, we discussed adding some of the ambient bass you may be familiar with, I really felt it wouldn’t add that much to what she’d written. So perhaps my contribution was mostly stepping back and encouraging her that her finished cues were more than enough.
In the very early stages of Valentine Wolfe, I’d hoped it would be a process, a way of doing things (I’m indebted to King Crimson for the concept), and while my sound might be absent, I believe Valentine Wolfe is ultimately an expression of that process from both of us.
So when Sarah decided and suggested we put the album out under the Valentine Wolfe banner, that really seemed to be the correct thing and made a lot of sense to me. I hope it does for you, too.
Besides, I love her voice. And I think on this recording, you will, too.
Enjoy Dolorosa, Lachrymosa.
Sarah and Braxton, Valentine Wolfe