Shadowrun: Dragonfall by Jon Everist
“The longest flight nears its end...”
Enter the emaciated wastes of Berlin this week with Shadowrun: Dragonfall by Jon Everist. Pressed on clear & black vinyl by Black Screen Records, the soundtrack to Harebrained Schemes’ followup to the 2013 reboot of this wonderful cyberpunk franchise is here to surround you in the glorious analog and synthetic concert of a world at the brink of calamity. A stunningly bleak and rocking set of grooves await you and your newfound squad. It’s up to you to secure the fate of humanity and save it from the untimely dragon-filled demise -- welcome to Dragonfall!
Calling All Runners
Jon Everist is an award-winning composer and multi-instrumentalist based out of Seattle, Washington. As his first foray in the Shadowrun series, and his first ever soundtrack as a games music composer, Jon set the stage for what would be his remarkable and adventurous career. His ghostly and imposing arrangements completely captured that Shadowrun style as well as its fans the world over. He has cemented himself as the best cyberpunk and dystopian composer in the industry. From sweeping orchestral strings to skull-vibrating synths, what Jon has done for the Shadowrun series is nothing short of incredible.
Shock and Awe
As one of my first experiences in the Shadowrun universe was Returns, then Dragonfall, and subsequently Hong Kong (which is also composed by Jon and my review can be found here), I couldn’t help but be enamored by the music. As a huge Blade Runner fan and admirer of Vangelis’ breathtaking work on that cult classic, I instantly found myself absorbed by Jon's moody tunes. Like a junkie jacked into the mainframe, I was hooked. The score for the Dragonfall expansion is one of those experiences that I crave to revisit every now and again, and it’s just as palpable and moving as the first time you hear it. From pulsing bass lines to cybernetic whirring, there’s something about the composition here that just does it for me. While I am madly in love with Gavin Parker, Marshall Parker & Sam Powell's work on Shadowrun: Returns, Dragonfall just brought forth a whole new level in storytelling that sucked me in. Jon’s music was a huge factor in selling that wonderfully fantastical story. Each and every story point, action, twist, and heart-wrenching moment of Harebrained Schemes’ amazing story was carried on Jon's incredibly talented shoulders, and is what I think helps sell the story more than anything else. Getting to relive that experience on vinyl is just exquisite to say the least.
The Flux State
This album is gorgeous. Ominous in its tone, the synth here truly grabs hold and never ever lets go. The rhythmic percussion layered beneath the soaring electric riffs draw you ever deeper within Jon's world. An ethereal and pounding bass pierces through the background giving birth to a wonderful mosaic of synths that completely encapsulates you, leaving you craving more long after it is done spinning. Taking on a western vibrato at times with the guitar, the whole score has this verbose melodic structure that is truly larger than life. The ambient pulsing gives way to classic cyberpunk horns that clear the way for a melancholic piano and strings, bringing a whole new character to this somber yet heroic score. This album is proof that Jon is the master of cyberpunk and the king of Shadowrun. It's no wonder he has continued to dominate the games industry with his unique and diverse sound.
Black Screen Records’ work on both of these Shadowrun releases from Jon was just remarkable. They are easily two of my favorite albums in my collection, and that says a lot about the sheer love and work that was poured into them. The incredible art by Jenn Ravenna (Dragonfall) & Joel DuQue (Hong Kong) are staples in my opinion, and just encapsulate the artistic and musical tone from both of these games. The gatefold on this album is absolutely mindblowing, displaying Firewing (Feuerschwinge) in all of her majestic glory; it is simply marvelous in its design and execution. The black and white with simple accents of crimson is just a gorgeous touch, and adds an amazing minimalistic flair to the music it holds inside. The design and layout for this release was carried out by none other than the talented Dane Baudoin, and adds a unique flavor in all the right places to Jenn’s work. Jon’s loving note to his fans and wife is just a heart-melting addition, and brings that extra bit of personality making this release feel super special. While also available on black vinyl, I decided to pick up the more limited clear version, and I must say the cloudy nature of it is just amazing and I think fits this release perfectly. The mastering here was meticulously done by industry veteran Christan Bethge of RAMA Tonstudio, and is as impeccable as always. The dynamics on this album are beautifully accented within the grooves, highlighting all of the amazing intricacies and nuances of Jon’s music and giving them a moment to shine. Christian always delivers remarkable work in my opinion and this album is undeniable proof of his dedication to his incredible craft. Black Screen Records never disappoints, and this album is among their best work ever. A testament and a true love letter to all fans of Shadowrun and Jon’s groundbreaking work. Pick this one up!
Where to Buy?
This album is still readily available directly from Black Screen Records on both clear and black vinyl. Pressed in 2018, I am honestly still surprised that there are still copies available. If you are a Shadowrun fan or a fan of Jon’s work in general, I think that this album is a must-own. Jon’s BattleTech soundtrack is also coming soon from Black Screen Records, and they are currently running a bundle where you can buy both of Jon’s Shadowrun vinyl releases along with BattleTech. I think if you are going to get started anywhere with Jon’s incredible music, why not let it be with all that Black Screen Records has to offer? If you're a fan of Blade Runner or anything cyberpunk related, you owe it to yourself to own this album!