Land of the Gods: Cojiko Quest is a bit of an oddball. When I finally published Land of the Gods back in March of 2013, I was exhilarated. The Zelda-inspired concept album was my first foray into published music, and seeing my name on iTunes was an experience unlike anything else. I would wake up every day to read reviews and check statistics, or simply to look up my own name on various distribution sites. And every time I visited those pages, I was reminded of how my project, the one I had dedicated a year of my life to, was over. I had started out relieved that it was finished, but over time, I began to miss it more and more.
One month later, I announced Land of the Gods, Volume II, an interlocking sequel album meant to expand on the world laid out in the first. Stylistically identical to the first album, Volume II hit the ground running, and by the time summer came around, three tracks for the new collection had already been completed. But after having worked in the same style for over a year, I quickly grew tired of expanding on the album. I needed something new.
Taking a break from music, I decided to start a brief summer project: I was going to program a 30-minute video game using prebuilt art assets. I got right to work building environments and coding characters, but one moment of boredom defined my work for the rest of the year.
While programming the environment for the player character's bedroom, I jokingly added in a pet chicken that the player had the option to feed. When fed, the chicken would burst into flame, and the game would berate the player, accusing them of "chicken-murder". Playtester reactions were priceless, with most players feeling too guilty to continue playing the game at all. Inspired by their reactions, I put together a terribly sad piano track to play after the chicken's fiery death.
The track was dubbed Cojiko's Farewell, the name Cojiko a combination of Cojiro, a chicken featured in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Koji Kondo, the original composer for the Legend of Zelda series.
What started off as a joke quickly evolved into an absurd story involving an enchanted chicken, a dastardly chancellor, and a witch with a bit of an attitude problem. As I wrote more tracks for the game, I realized how much the scope of the story had increased, and eventually stopped the game development to pursue the music further.
I had decided from the beginning that the story of Cojiko Quest would take place in the Land of the Gods universe, but felt that the original Land of the Gods style was too grandiose for a story about a talking chicken. Instead, I opted for a smaller, much more personal ensemble, and drew influence from the music of Final Fantasy X, the Super Mario series, and the various works of Grant Kirkhope.
Accompanying each track is a brief description of the context in which each piece takes place.
1. Once Upon A Time - The words one chooses can often define a journey; explaining an adventure in a simple phrase, elaborating on a quest and the lessons learned there. And like most good stories, this one starts out short and simple, with a phrase that we've all heard many times before.
2. Beldara of the Bog - Deep in the mountains, far to the east, a treacherous bog engulfs the countryside. The land is bleak and inhospitable, full of dangerous creatures and cruel monsters. The old witch Beldara feels right at home.
3. First Steps - Every journey begins with a first step; out of a home filled with comfort and into the dark and dangerous outside world.
4. Home - A soft warmth settles across the room; dusty books and a cup of tea keep you company no matter the weather, no matter the time.
5. Requiem For Cojiko - What is the point of the journey, if every step taken is another turn lost? One twist in the crooked path leads to another, and the things you once loved are no more. Friends may come and friends may go, but part of their spirit will always live on.
6. Peaceful Village - Dawn in the village is a quiet affair. The big windmill creaks softly in the distance, and water trickles calmly through a nearby stream. The town moves at a leisurely pace, blissfully unaware of the troubles outside its walls.
7. Adventuring - The sun rises, and a new journey begins, a fresh start fraught with personal perils and shady characters. The fields are wide, and the day is young; the perfect climate for a new adventure.
8. Mini-Game - When adventure calls, no matter what the wise men say, there's always room for a little leisure time. To balance body and mind, even the most valiant heroes need to take a day off once in a while.
9. Castle Carnival - The cobblestone streets ring with sound, and fireworks illuminate the towering castle against the night sky. There are many things to celebrate, and many more things to discover.
10. Golden Leaves, feat. Mochi Robinson - A gentle breeze plays across the falling leaves, swirling through a forest of gold and white. The air is crisp and cold, and the trees whisper across the wood.
11. Cojiko's Farewell - As close as friends become, there always comes a time when one must say goodbye. A parting word can change the course of ones destiny.
12. Home Again - All journeys, both great and small, must someday come to a close. First steps come full circle, and quest often end where they first began. Return to old comforts, the company of friends, fresh eyed and ready to rediscover the world you once thought you knew.
Creating this album has been an incredible journey, and would have been a living nightmare without the help of my family and friends. As always, a huge thank you to my parents for their undying support of this zany project. I'd also like to thank Sean, for helping this album reach many more ears than I ever could have alone. Thank you to the Calarts Musical Arts Forum of 2013 for their creative input and off-the-wall ideas, and to all of my wonderful followers on Tumblr for their love of all things Zelda and their constant presence in the Zelda community. Thank you to Shigeru Miyamoto and Koji Kondo, for bringing such light and creativity to my early years. And thank you so much to those who have stuck with Land of the Gods from it's humble beginnings; your kind words and endless support mean the world to me. Thank you all so much, and I hope you enjoy the album.