Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today, a song created for the video game Homeworld by progressive rock legends Yes.
Since its founding in 1968, Yes has been weaving classical, progressive, and hard rock into wondrous works of audio art. The band’s work can be soft and spiritual, as in 1972’s “And You And I,” or harder and more dramatic, as demonstrated in 1983 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Yes’ music has been a lot of things over the past 50 years, but it has rarely been commercial. Except for the time in 1999 when vocalist Jon Anderson reached out to Relic Entertainment CEO Alex Garden to do a track for the studio’s upcoming sci-fi real-time strategy game, Homeworld (playlist / longplay / VGMdb).
According to an interview with Alex Garden and Yes, the band was in Vancouver, British Columbia recording its 18th studio album, The Ladder, when Anderson got wind of a chance to put their music in Relic’s video game. Anderson and Garden talked and the singer loved the game’s story. Inspired by the tale of a fleet of lost souls travelling through space to their long-lost homeworld struck a chord, resulting in the game’s ending credits song, “Homeworld (The Ladder).” It’s a long track, nearly 10 minutes, so go ahead and start it, then keep reading.
The song opens with some mysterious synth and a bit of rain stick, setting the stark, deep-space stage for the adventure to come. Then we get Steve Howe’s plucked guitar, bringing to mind a vision of beat-up spaceships limping through the stars like an interstellar wagon train. Anderson’s high-pitched voice rings out, Chris Squire’s defiant bass kicks in, and we’re into Yes rock territory. Around the 1:50 mark the chorus begins, with Anderson’s vocals swelling and the band’s signature harmonic vocalising in the background.
Like many of Yes’ longer classics, “Homeworld (The Ladder)” feels like several songs stitched together, almost a medley of sorts. At 4:13 there’s a sudden shift, driven by the outstanding keyboard work of Igor Khoroshev. Finally, just as we think the song is over, at 7:52 we get this soft and sweet epilogue music on the comforts of home.
With its range, depth, and multi-part construction, “Homeworld (The Ladder)” is one of the most quintessential Yes songs. The album it’s on, The Ladder, is far from one of the band’s best, but it’s got a few of my favourites, including the ridiculously bouncy “Lightning Strikes,” a song that never fails to make me dance in place, just a little.
Way to start the day with a song about going home, right? Feel free to discuss that disconnect or anything else you want to talk about in the comment section below. Until next time.