Time and time again we find ourselves returning to the beautiful Rayman Origins (2011) soundtrack. The 2D platformer is one of our favourite of all time, a masterpiece from developer Ubisoft that really doesn’t get the full credit it deserves.
And that soundtrack—so wonderfully joyous, clever, and engaging. French video game and film composer Christophe Héral is behind most of it. Overall it’s wacky, emotional, cute, spectacular, funny, and absolutely bloody divine. Have yourself a listen.
Desert of Dijirdoos
The instruments in use include a marimba, didgeridoo, Jew’s harp, backing vocals, funk, jazz, and full-on orchestral sweeps.
There’s the occasional fix of Brasilian-inspired tropicalia, funk, and bamboo-led type flute ballads.
For us, the Desert of Dijiridoos levels of the game offer the best collective stage music.
Héral is a polyglot—that means he can speak in several languages. And his devious sense of fun and mischief shines across various all of his music.
It’s his overt understanding of cultures across the world that add together to create this mishmash of everything.
Now, the Frenchman isn’t behind every single piece in Rayman Origins. Scheduling conflicts led to Billy Martin composing the Food World level pieces.
Ultimately, the former wrote 24 and the latter 12.
After the compositions were written, France’s Star Pop Orchestra was hired to play the pieces. And the recording went ahead at the Davout Studios in Paris.
Sea of Serendipity
For some reason, many gamers frown upon water stages. Having discussed with some gamers online why they hate them, some feedback we got is they think the levels “slow” the pace of the game.
What this probably means is, knowing games, they get frustrated about a change in pace and dub all water stages as rubbish.
Yet Rayman Origins offers some of the most staggering water levels in gaming history. Thoroughly engrossing, the stunning music is a key part of their beauty.
Really, for us, these stages offer some of the very best water levels in all of gaming. And the music is a big part of that.
From a stage early on in the game, we feel this track highlights Héral’s creative intent.
As you’ve not played the game, no doubt, you won’t quite realise how well this stuff complements what’s going on.
And this achievement is despite many of the tracks being utterly incongruous. As with the below number, it’s a jazz-funk track set in the heart of the jungle.
Many compositions are also accompanied by some pretty weird noises and sound effects.
Rayman and his sidekick mate Globox (the fat blue dude) are positioned by Ubisoft to be a kind of modern-day loony toon.
So it’s perhaps this that set Héral off on his creative route. Regardless, we can see why the developer hired him—a more perfect video game soundtrack there could not be.
Finally, you can find the full soundtrack over on YouTube—if you’re interested.
It’s available on Amazon as well, but on the streaming service you can find extended versions of some of the tracks.
Découvrez l’approche de Christophe Héral concernant la composition de la musique de Beyond Good & Evil 2 et suivez l’enregistrement de la musique à Abbey Road. #BGE2 #BeyondGoodandEvil2 pic.twitter.com/k5OhmsQgQ4
— BG&E Myth (@bgemyth) November 7, 2018
As you can see in the above tweet, Héral is clearly quite the character. For someone to come up with this stuff, you don’t expect them to be overly serious.
Sure enough, he seems as eccentric as Rayman Origins is.
And we don’t mean that in a negative way, as his music is something else—we can confidently stake the claim this is one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time.
Pixelphonia’s Rayman Origins Concert
Finally, the game’s music was performed at the Opéra Bastille (fun fact: it was designed by Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott) in Paris on the 22nd September 2017.
Paris’ symphonic orchestra Pixelphonia (video game soundtracks specialists) performed the music. And, fabulously, Héral made an appearance.
Never before has a yazoo featured so prominently in any live performance. In the game, the instrument is used to represent a mosquito—in case you were wondering. It’s one that clearly has a passion for opera.
2 musiciens qui pèsent dans le (video)game dans notre prochaine vidéo !@TsukoG The Greatest & Your Highness @christopheheral nous ont rejoint pour un moment unique à l’Opéra Bastille en septembre 2017
Abonnez-vous à notre chaîne pour ne pas louper ça https://t.co/i1N9oqT49o ! pic.twitter.com/0NEpRkTe2w
— Pixelophonia (@Pixelophonia) February 8, 2018
The yazoo is also played with great virtuoso skill and passion by that chap in the leather jacket. He’s a French musician called Tsuko G. Well, if you’re going to go for it, bloody well go for it.
As the orchestra states on its channel:
"Pixelophonia is a group of video games fan musicians: arrangers and composers, they meet every week to record some videos and share their passion!"
Lovely to see everyone giving it some plenty and enjoying themselves. It looks like everyone had a fantabulous evening.