Ghost Recon Wildlands is coming on March 7, and when it does, it’ll feature a dynamic, deeply atmospheric soundtrack helmed by Alain Johannes. Johannes – who plays multiple instruments and has worked as a composer, arranger, producer, and musician with numerous bands including Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys – worked with a group of other musicians to create the game’s score, which weaves traditional and modern influences into a moody backdrop for the game’s Bolivian open world.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to be part of something like this,” says Johannes. “Composing for a video game is much broader, wider, deeper – almost more satisfying in some ways, you know? I love making albums as well, but this almost has a wider scope, and it really takes every ounce of passion, ability, and talent that you have to do a great job. Even more than for a soundtrack, it’s incredibly rewarding, and in the way that it was done with a lot of improvisation, it’s a very rare thing to do. Just an incredible experience.”
In creating the soundtrack, Johannes says he and his team – consisting of musicians Joey Castillo, Nick Oliveri, and Norm Block – made heavy use of the charango, a lute-like Bolivian instrument traditionally made from an armadillo shell, along with a wide range of instruments including electric and upright bass, classical and acoustic guitars, cell, viola, “shamanic-type” drums, flutes, banjo, and harmonium. The soundtrack also prominently features one of Johannes’ personal favorite instruments, a worn cigar-box guitar.
“[The development team] basically wanted to add elements that would be kind of resonant with Bolivia,” Johannes says when asked about the soundtrack’s strongest influences. “I think the inspiration also came from just being there, watching the open world, and reacting to it. Very often, they would give me reference tracks to listen to that kind of had the feeling of what they were after, and that was also an inspiration. The chemistry between us as well… we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve played in bands together.”
Johannes worked alongside Castillo and Oliveri while opening for – and then as a member of – Queens of the Stone Age, while Block is a drummer who’s also worked with a large number of bands as a producer, mixer, and engineer.
“They kind of lock in, like Joey keeping the groove and Norm adding the spice,” says Johannes. “It was this gut feeling that they would be the perfect addition to this thing that we were doing. We spent four days at my house… working on music that was a little more open and more fragile, and less heavy, as it were. It was pretty lucky.”
Ghost Recon Wildlands will be available on March 7 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. You can preorder the soundtrack here. For more on the game, check out our previous coverage: