It’s astounding how you often find new music to listen to in the most unusual places. With music surrounding us on a daily basis, between being in commercials, in TV and movies, in other people’s MP3 players or car radios, and on social media, there’s so much that you tune out. Yet, one of those sources that you tune out could end up introducing the right music at the right time to bring you your new favorite song, album, or even artist. For my part, my music discoveries seem to come about solely through such a happenstance nowadays.
This past weekend, I had one such chance encounter when a friend inspired me to play Minecraft with him for the first time in ages. I typically keep the game music volume turned all the way down for various reasons, even though I’ve always loved the game’s music. But somehow, my volume settings had gotten reset to default without me realizing it, and as I was playing, the most gorgeous piece of music began playing, one that was newer and therefore not one I’d ever heard before I’d semi-permanently kept the music muted. It was so gorgeous that I wasted no time in looking up its title and confirming its existence on the game’s second soundtrack release (I already owned the first) before ultimately purchasing it.
This piece—entitled “Dead Voxel”—by Minecraft composer David Rosenfield (who publishes his work under the name C418), is a haunting, atmospheric piece of instrumental music. At both ends of the song is a gloomy, dark ambience, but from about a minute in until the last 50 seconds of the 5-minute song, a slow, somber piano riff begins. As the song continues, it picks up a bit with backing by distant, soft orchestral strings and sharp synths. Throughout, it maintains a sense of sadness, a sense of being lost, but also a sense of determination, as if the accompaniment to somebody struggling—but staying strong nonetheless—under a great deal of oppression. It stands in stark contrast to much of the game’s trademark music that highlights a mood of exploration and magic, but is a fitting contrast given that “Dead Voxel” is one of the few tracks exclusive to the game’s Nether realm, which is a burning, barren place along the lines of an underworld. It compliments the experience flawlessly, immersing the player as a game’s music should.
In general, if you’re one who appreciates instrumental music that’s atmospheric and almost pensive, Rosenfield’s creations for Minecraft are absolutely worth giving a listen. But of them all, “Dead Voxel” gets my highest recommendation. I’ve had it on repeat for much of the past week, and I cannot quite get over its calm but emotional atmosphere; it makes the perfect accompaniment for focusing on a task, for relaxing, or for falling asleep to, because it is simply a gorgeous composition of music.