this time i will look at the module soundtracks of a few computer games that were released between the late 80s
and mid 90s.
The Sentinel (Amiga 500)
done by david whittaker; the legend of amiga music. this piece stands out from his other music; which is great, but this is also so futuristic, so outerspace, so out of it. abstract, shrill, exotic sounds and harmonies, weird pulsating snippets, an other world atmosphere. most of it is a ingame tunes which plays on and on, and is divided
into multiple parts. there is no composer i can compare to it; jean michel jarre might be a hint, with the space arpeggios, but also not; think of a jarre wrecked on LSD and abducted into a space utopia. this might come close to this music. this is one of the parts, where computergame music is not also a class, a league of its own, but can also compare well and excellent with "real" music, "serious" music.
future atmosphere for a future vibe.
Archipelagous (Amiga 500)
more of the same? more of the same! but how well done so! whittaker in action again. similiar to sentinel in style - in a sense - but less outer space, more green alien jungle exoplanet. this has some of the oddest melodies and structures i heard in a computergame ever. again, not much can compare. whittaker made a classic with that. scary at times, uplifting, and oh-so-shrill frequencies. menacing, in bad and in good.
Perihelion (Amiga 500)
perihelion. I can't say how much i adore this sountrack. perihelion was an obscure RPG done by psygnosis that is mostly overlooked these days. done by a not-so-known east european young coder group, it has astonishing large content for such a production, with well designed graphics and a packed story. but, to me, and to this text, the most important thing is the music, and how well done is it! the stylistic mixture is a bit bizarre. we got full classical symphonies done purely on sampling (someone said to me it resembles "romantic" classical composers - not sure, i am not an expert). but it also has hounding dark ambient parts, well for most of it. it is some of the saddest, most atmospheric, most thrilling music i ever heard. inside and outside the realm of computer music. this music does not only compare well to "real music", it blasts it away, and shows the extraordinary possibilites of mod music. this is mod music at its best. the soundtrack is divided into intros and outros, each location one visits in this RPG has a short little introduction piece, and then you get the ingame soundtracks.
the introductions are sad and menacing, almost heartbleeding. i wonder how this guy managed to arrive at these sounds and structures. but the real killer is definately the ingame stuff. think someone took the darkest parts of an biosphere album and repeated and built on it. it is so atmospheric, so creepy, so moving... can't describe. scary at parts, beautiful at others, or rather, at most parts. we get slowly creeping drones, outerspace bleeps, and otherwordly choirs.
check it out for yourself!
Spherical (Amiga 500)
spherical, oh, spherical. even as a kid, before i knew techno or hardcore or "real" music, i already was in love with this soundtrack. it is different from the abovementioned - now we have something that really sounds like 90s computergame music, major harmonies, saw and squarewaves, arpeggios. but it also has a different quality, a deep quality, that makes it stand out. yes, the melodies are catchy, but also in their own way bizarre, i dare to say, experimental. the harmonies and melodies just seem to fit, to snap in, to make a whole. i don't really know - i think so - what is it about it that makes it so special, but it is there, there to be listened. spherical, the game, takes places in caverns, and there really is a cavernous, hall feel to the sounds - but also that of wide open spaces, of large plateaus.
in style, we get slowly building up, almost droning track, as well as bass affairs and fast paced, rhythmic high pitched songs.
go for it!