Friday, December 27, 2013

Return to Argentum Soundtrack

For kicks I made a little playlist on youtube to power me through finishing this year-long fanfic endeavor. I hope, if you've been following the series, that you enjoyed the story. If you're just joining now, that's great, too. :) My musical tastes lean pop, so I'd be more than happy to hear suggestions for additions you think fit the fiction. I kind of just discover artists by accident, so while my tastes are eclectic, my music pool certainly isn't deep. 

Here's the playlist, and my thoughts on the songs. My next stop on the fanfic circuit is Ravnica, so if you have people/places/action you'd love to see come to life, be brought back to life, or given their due respect, please let me know in the comments, or @moxymtg.

Return to Argentum Soundtrack

Rooney - Don't Come Around Again
This retro-sounding band was perfect for a "Venser theme" in my mind. While Venser seems like a goody-goody pretty-boy character in many ways, I think he's much more of a handful than he gets respect for (that wasn't intended as an innuendo). A lot of nerdy guys are darker than they like to let on, and their recalcitrance and natural introspective nature can bring a lot of challenges to a relationship. In Venser's case, I think he's intrigued by women who represent intrigue and uncharted horizons, much as he'd be interested in a new engineering or design problem. What's he really want? What'll he ultimately get? Guess we'll have to see.

Fiona Apple - Red Red Red
The supersexy voice and hedonistic themes of Fiona Apple made me think of Liliana right away. But while Lil is certainly a maneater, she has a softer side that most often gets ignored or unnoticed or suppressed. I liked the blatant color references in this song as they referenced Mirrodin's colorful moon theme and also the cross-color interpersonal difficulties between Liliana and Jace.

Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta
This is the New Phyrexia anthem. "I'm not sick, but I'm not well... " The poor Phyrexians have no idea what's happening to them, why they do what they do, how they're ruining their own future. Sounds like puberty to me. The visuals in this song are perfect for a celebratory BDSM culture like New Phyrexia's and the thwarted teen desire articulated here is just the epitome of everything great (and wrong) when it comes to Phyrexian life.

Johnny Cash - Hurt
Some of my selections might feel obvious, but that's purposeful. NPH isn't a subtle culture. This track speaks to the diminishing returns of Phyrexian kicks - I mean, how many times can you flay someone and find it entertaining?; but it also speaks to Koth, Liliana's and Venser's narratives of failure and loss. Planeswalkers shoulder a great burden - knowledge of other worlds, fates of entire races, magic that is difficult and/or impossible to control, demand for services from greater powers, inability to control their own destinies. I love this remake by Cash, and think it tells the lonely story of a planeswalker perfectly.

Against Me! - You Look Like I Need a Drink
The original version of this song was pretty buttrockin' and I had to go with the acoustic version, which to me calls to mind Mirrodin's empty metallic vistas and lonely spires much better. Country was a good fit for this fanfic in that Mirrodin/Argentum/New Phyrexia is certainly a "wild west" of sorts - unique, uncharted territory with forces clashing over the simplest of troubles: resources, and territory. This track also nicely ties in to Liliana's penchant for escapist behaviors, and the wine cellar of her paramour Jor Kadeen.

Chris Cornell - Black Hole Sun
A favorite song since high school, this haunting version was a no-brainer add to the fanfic soundtrack. Remember the old video? Barbie dolls melting on the barbecue is pretty much Phyrexia, in my mind. The emptiness of the arrangement and sparer sound of the acoustic version was exactly what I wanted for this trip to Mirrodin. I mean, plus it says "sun" in the lyrics, and is talking about a cleansing...

Metallica - Fade to Black
The beginning to this song is beyond beautiful. I imagine something like this would play behind many of Liliana's actions. She's working and moving, but she doesn't know exactly why. She is sure, however, that she's afraid of standing still. She's cheating death, making a name for herself, and amassing wealth and reputation that many other planeswalkers covet and would trade their souls for... but is it all fading to black anyway?

Franz Ferdinand - No You Girls
Love the dueling narratives in this song, equal representation yo! The baiting lyrics and thinly veiled sexually-tense themes fit really well into the Esper relationship of Return to Argentum. The moral of the song - that neither gender/sex role really ever puts themself into the others' shoes... is a theme that will continue into Ravnica and beyond.

Alkaline Trio - Mr. Chainsaw
This was particularly poignant in relation to Venser's stint as a zombie and Glissa's compleation. But that in itself was an analogy for the disconnect we often feel and the trapped-ness within some kind of body/habits/role that seems foreign, when we so deeply long to connect to another on a realer or more sincere level. Yet, sometimes that disembodiment can be freeing, as Venser found out. And it's not irreversible, as Glissa found out.

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun
Classic. Desire. Ruin. Desire. Despair. Yeah. This is Mirrodin's plight in a nutshell. Karn's desire to create a perfect world turned into a nightmare that was actually the polar opposite of his original vision. How many times have we thought something was beautiful and saving when it was, in reality, damning and the gateway to suffering? Karn's big mistake was the classic "hubris" issue in which he thought he could emulate the Gods and create life that would function normally. I think this project of his stems from a deep emotional issue - the guy doesn't know what his purpose is, and I mean, how lonely would it be to travel the universe as a huge buff metal golem? I mean, how many connections are you going to make with that profile? Thanks, Urza.

Darius Rucker - Wagon Wheel
I initially had the original Old Crow Medicine Show version on the list, but Rucker's more buoyant version turned out to be a better fit for the arc of the soundtrack. The fiddles, the journey - the themes of just getting by so you can see your sweetheart - were right on for the immediacy of Argentum. 

Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Obviously, this is a great track for anyone that has ever seen Liliana Vess. Big black boots. She was with another man, yo. Don't need money with a face like that, honey. You know she's trouble, right? But you wanna go there anyway.

Of Monsters and Men - Mountain Sound
Might seem strange, but this tinkling pretty song reminded me of Koth. I think at his core, Koth is really a romantic homebody, and of course the mountain reference in the lyrics made me think of him, too. I think of Koth like a ronin, a wandering samurai dedicated to raising his people to a better life and fighting for justice, but not always knowing the best course in which to do either. This song also, in terms of the picture it painted in my mind, made me think of Venser and Liliana being stranded on a really f-d up plane, and fighting out of it together. And of course, Glissa and Slobad's deep friendship through thick and thin, which is a major theme in the fanfic. 

Arctic Monkeys - Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High
Heard about this band through my brother-in-law. This is basically the track for the Epilogue, ambiguous. Do we care for each other just because we're in the shit, or does that care endure across time and space? We've probably all been in the kind of relationship where we have to wonder...

I'm really looking forward to writing Retribution in Ravnica. I'd like to incorporate characters from the original Ravnica block novels, though the fanfic will take place post-Secretist for timeliness. Many thanks to @Andrey_KsH for translating Return to Argentum into Russian! It's a dream come true for fans from many countries to be able to enjoy my writing efforts.

Thank you for all your support.


  1. Great playlist. Now I need to make it and listen to it all the way through. Seems to fit everything perfectly. Why are you such an awesome Vorthos?