The original symphonic treatment for the game Destiny was long considered lost, thanks to being shelved after a major staff shift at developer Bungie. But Destiny fans received quite the Christmas miracle – albeit a legally questionable one – when fans discovered and posted an apparent rip of the album in question, titled Destiny: Music of the Spheres.
The 8-track, 48-minute album leak, which has been live on more than a few mirrors as of press time, was quickly confirmed as legitimate by two key contributors to the project: former Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell and former Bungie Creative Director Joe Staten. O’Donnell offered a “I think this is it” via Twitter Monday, followed by: an emphatic post from “Finally! #NeverForgotMotS.” States followed with acknowledgment that Sir Paul McCartney himself sang a text Staten had suggested, adding, “Glad #MOTS is finally out for everyone to hear.”
Music of the spheres started life as a pre-release symphonic album concept aided by O’Donnell and his composing partner Michael Salvatori, and its creation and production eventually got into the messy lawsuit that hovered over O’Donnell’s “termination” of Bungie. Before the lawsuit, the album had gotten a lot of buzz – unsurprisingly, considering it was a freaking Beatle as a singer and songwriter. However, after O’Donnell and Bungie broke up, the album was in Bungie’s vaults, even though O’Donnell had publicly given his blessing to Bungie to release the album as an official, full-length release.
Instead of Bungie officially releasing the album, however, a few Destiny music fans took the honors on Christmas Day. Tlohtzin Espinosa and Owen Spence had worked alone for over a year MotS-recreation project, which consisted of existing Destiny song snippets edited together based on album sleuthing. (Eurogamer’s report on this fan album project is exhaustive and highly recommended to read.) The duo told Kotaku that they had received a tip about a copy of the album, then pulled the trigger through the full album as a free soundcloud stream to post. . They posted additional links and comments in a lengthy Reddit post pointing out the potential legal issues surrounding their decision: “I don’t intend to piss off Bungie, and I apologize if this is morally wrong,” Spence wrote. “I just want you to hear what the composers of Destiny.”
After Kotaku was notified in advance of the album’s impending release, he tracked down O’Donnell for comment. He described feeling “pretty relieved and happy”, pointing out that while his father was still alive to see (and delighted with) the album’s public release, his mother had passed away two years earlier. “Although she loved to listen and share it with some of her friends (she was a musician), she never understood why it wasn’t released,” he told Kotaku.
As Espinosa and Spence had deduced, Music of the spheres contains more than a few melodies and movements already recorded in the 2014 Destiny game and others Destiny-related videos. But hearing these pieces chained together in sequence is a very different experience. MotS impresses with his ability to tell musical stories that are equally daring and curious – a quality that O’Donnell always has in his Halo game scores. McCartney’s album-closing track, meanwhile, sounds more like a heartfelt end-game credits than a chart-topping hit, but it’s about as much a game-credits song as you’re likely to hear.
O’Donnell’s latest album was released earlier this year. Echoes of the first dreamer serves as a “musical prequel” to the VR game golem currently being produced by his new company Highwire Games in Seattle.
List image by Tlohtzin Espinosa and Owen Spence