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The VR Music Album Vortex of ‘Melody of Dust’

Viacom NEXT and Hot Sugar have teamed up to let you cast objects into a reactive vortex to unlock more than 80 original melodies.

Tarantulas. A flying dove. A gothic castle. Champagne glasses. A technicolor… bowling ball/glowing orb/ball thing? Oh and by the way, all of these things make music. Welcome to the Melody of Dust.

Following the successful Virtual Cinema premiere at SXSW, the collaboration between indie musician Hot Sugar and Viacom NEXT, Viacom’s future-forward branch with a focus on VR, is now available for Steam on the HTC Vive.

Viacom NEXT is branding the experience as “the first of its kind of deconstructed music experience.” Not quite a music video, not quite a game, Melody of Dust manages to be something unique in between. Viacom NEXT is well aware that the experimental nature of the experience, as well as others they are producing, don’t exactly have commercial value in the current market. “We don’t exist to make money,” said ViacomNext’s creative director David Liu, “We exist to figure out what this medium is going to take to, so that when the time comes, we know exactly what to do.”

That sort of attitude is exactly what drew the company to Hot Sugar. The musician, whose real name is Nick Koenig, has performed and composed music for fifteen years without ever once signing with a label. Though not necessarily anti-big music, Koenig, who once was arrested for downloading a 50 cent song illegally, has expressed frustrations with the way the industry seems to see the future of music and VR collaborations as one big commercial gimmick. “It gets frustrating when I do a Melody play test with major label folks – they’ll stop halfway through and say, ‘Wow, this is incredible – so how do we do this for Joe Jonas?'” he said in a Rolling Stone interview.

The titular track from Hot Sugar’s 13 track album explodes into the experience near the end in a fantastic sequence that leaves the user standing on a raised platform in a colorful, galactic world, but first, users get the chance to create their own melody through experimentation. By throwing objects with different musical projections into a swirling vortex in the center of the ethereal castle, users can create up to 80 different unique melodies.

With no directions other than a statement that every object is capable of making music, it took me a while to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. About three minutes in, I threw the one object available—a ball—into the vortex using my translucent, patterned hands. The vortex began and I was able to enter a bedroom full of objects that were able to be tossed into the swirling storm. By the time the experience was over, I didn’t feel like I had really done very much, but the stunning visuals and the musical experience are worth trying out just for the thrill of it.

The experience is out now on Steam for the HTC Vive for a discounted launch rate of $2.99, and will be available for $4.99 starting April 17th. If you like what you see, check out more from Hot Sugar and Viacom NEXT.

About the Scout

Presley West

Emory University student, VRScout Intern, Storyteller, and Amateur Dog Walker.

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