Skip to main content

Exo is a free psychedelic first-person interactive music video

Think Rez meets Flower meets Gravity Bone.

Electronic group Gatekeeper decided to shake things up and instead of release a music video, it released a videogame to accompany its debut album, Exo.

I use the term "game" loosely here as there aren't any goals, scores or story, but you're instead invited to explore surreal shimmering landscapes in first-person in Brooklyn-based artist Tabor Robak's interactive audiovisual supplement.

As you play the scenery shifts and jumps around like the montages in Gravity Bone, while the alien environments range from what looks like a space station run by Lady Gaga, to forests bathed in sunlight, to bleached sands and wintry caverns that feel like they're in the furthest reaches of outer space.

But why a videogame? In an interview with The Creators Project Robak explained, "For one thing, when you make a music video, you're competing with all music videos ever made and you'll be compared to all that. So I think making game-type stuff is appealing because the rules aren't there yet, and no matter what type of game thing it is, it'll have some sort of value intrinsically because of the novelty of it."

Gatekeeper added in an interview with Noisey, "With video you can just sense that its energy has just sort of been dissipated. I remember my first year or two of youtube was amazing, and then after a while you realise even this form can be exhausting and boring. Video's a lot of work and it's contained in this little window that's so familiar that it reduces everything to the same droning playlist."

The group also cited the lack of character with more procedural audio visualisers as a reason to pursue this mode of communication. "I find that with the systems for music and aesthetics, they rely really heavily on each other, but don't use the same process at all. I did some of that in grad school, generating visuals through music and it just looked really canned."

The interactive elements of the game allow players greater agency to to get their groove on. "Tabor's game does have music reactive elements. In the environments there are things that are mutating to the music."

Exo is anything but conventional, but it is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and completely free. Download it here, or check out an entire playthrough of the 35 minute album/game and absorb its serenely trippy visuals below.

This article contained embedded media which can no longer be displayed.

Read this next