I reviewed Spire a while back, and it’s the sort of game that’s managed to stick with me since I first discovered it on Kickstarter and then played it with my local gaming group.
It’s a good time for everyone, and its setting is delightful (and sublime) in its weirdness and darkness. It’s punk done without self-indulgence, and it’s beautiful.
So, here’s some music that I suggest for Spire. I’ve selected a handful of artists whose work I feel fits perfectly with the aesthetic and mood of the game. Before I begin, I should point out that I am considering this both for reading and playing the game to, so some of these songs are definitely more for ambience than persistent listening.
1. Atrium Carceri
It’s no secret that I like Atrium Carceri, having used it for a lot of my games. Particularly albums like Cellblock, The Untold, and Void really nail the nature of the Heart of the spire in my opinion.
I also like the fact that Atrium Carceri is very humble in their approach to their sound-scapes, not dominating the ear. You can run pretty much any game with suspenseful or horror elements to the setting of Atrium Carceri, and I often play it at my table just ever so slightly audible to add an edge to my players.
Plus, Atrium Carceri is prolific, and you can choose a variety of options for whichever elements of Spire you want to play up. This, of course, can include selecting certain songs or albums to represent specific parts of the city.
Kammarheit is Atrium Carceri’s angrier sibling. While my favorite Kammarheit lacks some of the subtlety of my preferred Atrium Carceri pieces, Kammarheit’s work can produce much more impact at specific moments.
Plus, Kammarheit’s joint works with Atrium Carceri and Apocryphos on the album Echo are tremendous, and work really well for intense moments approaching the Heart or if you want to give the Vermissian an aggressive feel.
They also work well for moments of industrial oppression in the darker underbellies of the city.
3. Tobias Lilja
I learned of Tobias Lilja’s work through the use of one of his songs in a trailer for Degenesis, and his wistful but appealing music moves us away from the ambient nature of Atrium Carceri and Kammarheit. His instrumental tracks are definitely suitable for use at the table, however, with “Swarming Suns” or “Flaming Mouth” being good for more intense but not necessarily horrifying moments or to really play up weird elements of the setting.
Wordclock has some great jazz-ambience pieces that keep a dark feel while moving toward more serene moments. It’s something that I definitely feel adds to the setting of Spire, and it is beautiful in its own right.
The Bell Ringing three-song trilogy featured on Heralds gives a great ability to link sessions together, with the players’ madcap scenes potentially destablizing the Spire and causing a move from the more serene first movement to the more vibrant, but also dissonant, third part.
Heralds also has other great songs that have more musical appeal while also having the potential to define more warped areas of Spire.
Orphx is aggressive and synthetic in its sound, but this adds well with the oft-confusing nature of Spire. Although it is synthetic, it’s not overly futuristic-sounding, like some other works by similar artists might be.
It’s definitely good for tense moments, and I think it makes a good backdrop for combat (which in Spire is usually short enough that it doesn’t require too much music to begin with).
Geomatic is more distinctly “futuristic” than the other bands I’ve chosen so far, but it does a good job in capturing the distinct elements of Spire’s characters with its blend of influences from around the world.
While it’s likely that I would pick-and-choose rather than just dumping whole Geomatic albums into a really serious Spire playlist, I find Blue Beam to be a good album for really bringing more energy into a game without necessarily insinuating combat or danger.
7. True Widow
True Widow is very dark, with both male and female vocalists adding to a macabre tone. While it’s hard to accept True Widow as music that you could hear in the world of Spire, it’s definitely possible to accept it as something that would be in the soundtrack to the movie.
I definitely think it adds a good kick to the setting, and gives some aggression and violence that is perfect for the Ministry’s work.
8. The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble
Combining jazzy tunes with more dark and heavy pieces, this is perfect for both aelfir and drow alike. They do have some explicit stuff (if that’s something you care to avoid, like I do), but they have more than enough content that is clean. Mutations, in particular, is an album that seems to go really well with Spire.
The jazzy element really fits well with some of the character archetypes and noir-inspired campaigns, as well as some of the underworld areas of Spire.
Soundtracks and the Playlist
I have a tendency to hoard music for my games, so I’ve got a lot of stuff on this playlist.
I’ve chosen albums I feel fit the overall mood of the game well, and a handful of songs I’ve picked out for characters or moments in play in this list. This means that the following playlist will play things I feel are good for Spire in general about 95% of the time, and things that I think make good openers/character-specific things/further inspiration for taking the setting in different paths 5% of the time.
Many of these songs were suggested by members of the Spire community, so I can’t claim credit for miraculously finding them all on my own.