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As a kid, my family inherited a lot of furniture from relatives. We once got this huge console record player/stereo system. It was about the size of a coffin and had a large lid (also not unlike a coffin) and was used in my family as an end table catchall for pictures, doodads, and other random knick-knacks.  I actually didn’t even realize it housed a stereo unit inside of it until one day when I kicked the edge of it and the lid popped up an inch or two. I cleared everything off the top and lifted the wooden lid. Inside was a large, recessed stereo radio, an 8-track tape slot, and a fully functioning turntable. I looked behind the unit to see if it was connected. It wasn’t, and the gap between the wall and the unit was too small to reach a hand down to plug it in.  Eventually, I shoved the gargantuan contraption away from the wall and hooked it up.


Coffin full-a-BOOM

I turned it on.  A very loud, deep fuzz crackled out of the speakers.  There was no antenna, so I couldn’t get any radio reception.  My mom had some 8-track tapes, but I didn’t know where she kept them.  Records! I had records! So I pulled out my Mary Poppins record.  What?  You didn’t have a Mary Poppins soundtrack on vinyl when you were a kid? Puh-lease.  I set the record to play and was hit with some of the deepest, richest tones I had ever heard. Ok, it wasn’t very clear but it was loud and hit you in the gut like Dick Van Dyke never could before.  And this thing got LOUD.  It was about this time my mom came in to tell me to turn it down a bit. So I did, a bit.

Eventually, I had to put it all back together, close the lid, put the quilt back on and put all the crap back that was on it before since there wasn’t really any place for these things, which is why they ended up there in the first place.  I began to push the console back up against the wall and upon inspecting the back panel, I noticed two RCA IN connectors. I may have been only 9 or 10 but I knew wires, connection types, and the basic laws of conductivity. This means I could theoretically plug anything with an audio out into this machine.  First thing I try? My NES.

The NES was capable of stereo sound, but it only had one RCA audio out which I think was essentially split mono. This would be the red RCA connector on the side of the box. The yellow one carried the video signal if you were routing it to a TV with RCA inputs. So I cleared the top of this wooden sarcophagus again, grabbed the longest RCA cable I could find and routed the NES to one of the two input jacks. Turned the contraption on.  It had a warm hiss of its own. Turned the NES on, pop! Bzzz! And for as much detail as I’m adding here, I can’t for the life of me remember what game was in there at the time. I want to say Castlevania but it could have easily been Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.


“You hear that new Rescue Rangers joint?”

At any rate, those musty speaker boxes attached to the “end zones” of the console pushed out such a loud, warm sound. A sound I had never heard any game machine emit or any entertainment center reproduce. Not only did these simple bleepy bloopy compositions feel heavy and larger than life but it had a tangible quality to it as well, no doubt due to the high noise floor we’d be dealing with here.  These noises became songs, these songs became identities – the world of music and gaming were meshing for me and I couldn’t look back. I couldn’t bear a quiet game, nor could I play one very long whose compositions were lacking or otherwise offensive to the ear. All of a sudden, everything mattered.

Subsequently, I became obsessed with hooking up other devices to the wooden console after learning more about wire splicing and custom adapters.  I hooked up Game Boys, Game Gears, Commodore 64’s, musical instruments, microphones… if it had audio out, I was running it through this machine.  I ultimately smuggled the console into my room for future experiments in NOISE.

It was a turning point for me. Game music could sound great! Game audio is important and impacts a player’s perception and immersion. I think it was at that point that I was on a collision course with gaming and sound as a career, but I didn’t know it quite yet.


Tony Porter holds a degree of science in Audio Engineering with extended studies in Game Development. He is currently an audio engineer at n-Space in Orlando, FL and has produced or managed audio for numerous games such as Skylanders Giants (3DS), Square/Enix’s Heroes of Ruin, the portable Call Of Duty series for Activision, and the BAFTA nominated Great Big War Game, among dozens of other titles across all platforms.



World Premiere Live Performances of TOMB RAIDER Presented by SCORE Concerts and Malmö Symphony Orchestra on May 31 and June 1

SCORE Concert Productions, the Malmo Symphony Orchestra and Bandai Namco Partners Sweden have announced that BAFTA award-winning American composer Jason Graves will guest conduct during this year’s JOYSTICK 5.0 concerts in Malmö, Sweden on May 31 and June 1. JOYSTICK 5.0 will be performed at the Malmö Concert Hall. Tickets are available at

For the fifth incarnation of the immensely popular concert series, the Malmö Symphony Orchestra will perform several pieces by the two-time British Academy award-winning composer Jason Graves. A brand new heroic suite from the critically acclaimed TOMB RAIDER soundtrack will be conducted by Graves himself.

JOYSTICK producer Orvar Säfström: “Jason Graves is one of the most talented and interesting composers in game music today. We are immensely happy to welcome him to our concert, and even more excited that he will conduct the Malmö Symphony Orchestra himself.”

A classically-trained composer and world percussionist, Jason Graves has conducted and recorded his live orchestral scores at Abbey Road Studios, Air Studios London, Capitol Records, FOX, Paramount Pictures and Skywalker Sound. Graves previously conducted the TOMB RAIDER “Survivor” Trailer at the Spike TV Video Game Awards in Los Angeles and his music from the original DEAD SPACE has been performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Jason’s concerto for string quartet from DEAD SPACE 2, “Lacrimosa” was premiered to a live audience at the SCORE symphony concert in Falun, Sweden earlier this year.

The JOYSTICK and SCORE concerts are exciting musical adventures for both hardcore gamers and orchestra fans. The first JOYSTICK (2006) holds the world record for a video game concert with an audience of 17,000. For more information visit

When the PlayStation Blogcast announced a couple weeks ago that Katamari Damacy (2004) was coming to the PlayStation Network, I was thrilled.

If you’ve never played Damacy or any other Katamari game, I’m not entirely sure what to say to you.  Katamari is an experience, not a game.  An experience in which you roll a ball (your ‘katamari’) around that picks up stuff, making your katamari larger.  And I mean ‘stuff’ in the broadest terms; your katamari begins picking up small objects, like ants or tacks or coins.  As it expands in size, so do the objects you can pick up with it.  Dude.  You can pick up clouds and planes.

All of this is odd. Odd in a sense of – who comes up with this?

In addition to all of that, the music is amazing. AMAZING.

First of all, it’s all super happy. Even better, it’s like chiptunes electronica, but sort of jazzy too. Composer Yu Miyake wrote many of the songs (the other five composers were Asuka Sakai, Akitaka Tohyama, Yoshihito Yano, Yuri Misumi, and Hideki Tobeta).

Miyake said director Keita Takahashi gave them no instructions about what kind of music to write.  They were simply allowed to create the music they thought worked best.  I love when composersare given that freedom.  Sadly, Katamari soundtracks are import only, but you can check it out on YouTube if you haven’t had a chance to roll your own katamari.



Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.

Bermuda grass, it’s all I see when I think of survival of any kind: crawling slowly across it on your belly as toes curl tightly inward, the next encumbrance hazily meeting the eyes.  It’s an exercise of methodical, deliberate pacing.  Of all things in a virulent, pestiferous zombie pandemic, why is fertilized verdure the first thing my mind illustrates? Simple, when I was 12 my friend John and I equated readiness with fitness, and fitness with crawling across high school football fields.  If we could do that, then as Morrissey posits on his 1987 single Everyday is Like Sunday “Come Armageddon come!”

Dead Island 1

Purchase the soundtrack here

It’s a pity then that we would find ourselves at the inaugural luncheon greeting the newly athirst stampeding masses, our exits swiftly clotted, those final moments screaming at each other as to whose idea that whole field business was about, and perhaps why had we not chosen to eat leaner.

Amidst the crest of this ravenous tableau, Pawel Blaszczak, composer for Dead Island: Riptide,is likely having problems of his own.  Blaszczak, unlike myself, will share no comfort in the contiguous life-long friend.  His deck of Tarot cards insurmountably focused on towers and swords, its major Arcanum anchoring far below the surface.

Riptide’s descent along its knotted, grease-soaked rope begins without regular sunlight “Two Six Heave” only hints at the coming famine, taming its persistent, inevitable collapse with a false sense of strength.  The group gathered around this fire will fall, then be eaten, then eat the yet to be eaten!  Just because people make chest-heavy speeches at noon does not guarantee a diminished appetite.  Zombies are not known for their sense of portion control.

“Delusions of Anchors” and “Death Floats” craft panic through its slothful, near comatose steps banging its drum, pulsing its gong until its jaws slip around whatever lazily follows behind you, be it legs (you must really learn to pick up your knees), or hands resting, nestled in your back pants pocket.  Blaszczak incomparably trickles his poison on Riptide.  “Fever Dreams” and “Solace In Swells” wobble inside you, their throb thickening as it travels outward from its center, reverberating its toxin, closing pathways.

Dead Island 2

Blaszczak’s fetid marriage of sloshing salt water and piles of seeping, azoic corpses reaches maturation as he delivers the stoical hindmost move of his rook, bracing the door (“It Can Last”) in preparation for his final moments of cognizance (“Treading Blood”).

Dead Island: Riptide is a score so enveloped by the malevolence of blood and the morass of a labored, tenuous sentience that long term exposure is certain to debilitate and compromise its listening audience, and that’s the point.  Fear is meant to subjugate, to corner, and Blaszczak’s meticulous cursed scripture aims to drown you in its opaque crimson sea….Best you stay low on that grass.


Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim lately, because I never had the chance to really max out my Khajiit. I named her after Beethoven’s only opera. Somehow, I feel more nerdy.

In any event, I’ve been kicking around Skyrim on and off over the past couple weeks, and I can’t stop thinking about Fallout 3.

And that makes me think of Inon Zur’s score for Fallout 3.

So I tried something whilst roaming Bethesda’s Nordic landscape the other day: I turned down Jeremy Soule’s music all the way (feeling as though I’d go straight to hell for it) and turned on Inon’s Fallout 3 soundtrack.

It wasn’t supposed to work at all, but sometimes the music was surprisingly cohesive to the environment. In fairness, I was usually on a horse when Inon’s music worked the best. Also, it was pretty great fighting a dragon with Fallout 3 combat music playing in the background.

But it’s true; you can’t properly separate Jeremy’s Skyrim score from the landscape of the game. And you shouldn’t. Jeremy and Inon both wrote music for specific lands and times.


Khajiit 1


So what did I learn? Couple of things. First, I learned that Fallout 3 would be even more rad with Shouts and archery, and that Skyrim needs a Pip Boy (I mean, they totally could do these things, they have those powers). Second, I realized I wouldn’t change one thing about either soundtrack.


Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.

It’s with some regret that our first meeting is one of tears, but you see, the Commander… he’s not doing so well.  He’s not ill, no smallpox, no inflammation of the lower intestine, no sudden life-threatening thyroid condition, but… he’s disappearing.  I knew he would eventually, but we got on so well together, why believe anything so contrary?  He bought us a house, put down Gladiolas. It’s been years since those churlish Reapers stopped delivering their shoddily made penny-saver circulars, but he still churns his stirabout nervously every morning, goes lumbering to bed throwing off his steel greaves, breath clouding his helmet visor. Still though, there was time each day for popcorn, terrible jazz standards and bocce.  Why leave?  So yes, the Commander is not doing well; but what’s more, I’m doing much worse. Because in a very short order, I will complete Mass Effect 3, and my friend Shepard will be gone. His many heavy, ingot armors left to rust and house harmless spiders and junebugs… Who will drive his Normandy?  I will be alone.


Purchase the soundtrack here

I will always remember how we met. It was his music…. it’s what made me take notice in the first place.  The man knows his way around a Moog. It’s the dead of space but to Shepard, it’s channeling the Banana Wind of a young Jimmy Buffet gone positively cast iron! Wardrobe changes, sashaying amongst the curtains… He’s tender, lyrical, positively Macbethian. It was a show not to be missed. The guy can irritate.  He’s cheap, socially inept; he got out of paying last month’s rent.  But I joined him, we traveled, battled… time went on.

mass-effect1We’ll need your Moog.

I will miss his cad wordplay, his tongue always finding new, deadpan ways to express his disappointment in you.  But he still wants you along for the latter acts, the cabaret numbers.  I will lament the absence of his sophomoric poetry and his contemptible taste in leggings.  It was upon reaching the ingress of Mass Effect 3’s intro screen (the one where we find the Reapers have taken to riding Earth bareback) that it hit me. This last hampered leg of our legato world tour would be one accompanied by tombs: mine, his. We might even dig them together. So as the images onscreen strained to make small talk, pleading me to ‘Press Start,’ the minutes slipped to an hour. I sat there staring, unwilling to make hay. The stagnant constriction of lumps in my throat, my hands clamped around joystick, it was absolute paralysis.

I have waited this long to play Mass Effect 3 for no other reason than to delay bidding the Commander farewell. All the minerals we have collected together, all the bumpy rides in his moon-roving carriage — I have dragged him away, soused and mid-monologue, from so many neon terrestrial taverns just as they send round the hammer.  Shepard likes his drink. This is it! I might amble myself out his way again so we can reminisce, but we will never be closer than we are right now.  It’s going to turn through my head for a long time, I will cry… but then I will remember Shepard owes me money, and I’ll think to myself: Death is kind…It’s the relationship we have….

Mass Effect orbit


Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in 
record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which
only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

It’s easy to talk about games, isn’t it?  If I ask you to tell me about one of your favorite games, I’m sure you would. I could ask about your favorite characters, scenes, stories, sound effects, actors, genres, artists, developers… and music.

That’s pretty much why I’m here – to talk about music in games.  I’m told I can write about games in general, but I’m here to tell you, I’ll mostly be talking about music.

I’d say music could make or break a game, but that’s not always true, since we tend to have the option to turn it off during gameplay.  And yeah, I’ve done that before; hasn’t everyone?

What I usually end up doing, though, is turning down slightly the effects and the speech, and crank up the tunes.  Unless it’s Dead Space, which should only be played with all lights on and all sound off.

To be fair, there’s something special about game audio in general.  The reason Dead Space is so terrifying stems from the relationship between the sound in the environment and the music Jason Graves wrote.

The marriage (if you will) of string chords with headshots in BioShock Infinite is a remarkable design element.

Music has always been a part of games, which will never change. So, LET’S TALK.


Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a masters degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.


Remember Me

Classically trained multimedia composer Olivier Deriviere (Alone In The Dark, Of Orcs And Men), whose distinctive soundtracks have been recognized by Billboard and The New York Times, has crafted a unique, electronically manipulated live symphonic score for the upcoming action adventure video game Remember Me developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom. Deriviere’s dynamic emotional score is intricately woven throughout Remember Me‘s innovative ‘memory remix’ gameplay experience and immersive futurist story set in Neo-Paris where personal memories are digitized, bought, sold and traded. Remember Me will launch on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in North America on June 4 and across Europe on June 7, 2013.

Remember Me is a 3rd person action adventure where players take on the role of Nilin, a former elite memory hunter with the ability to break into people’s minds and steal or even alter their memories. The authorities, fearful of her knowledge and capabilities have arrested Nilin and wiped her memory clean. After her escape from prison, Nilin sets out on a mission to recover her identity, helped by her last and only friend. This search for her past leads to her being hunted by the very people that created this surveillance society. During the course of the story, Nilin will start remembering who she was and re-learning all the fighting moves that made her one of the world’s leading memory hunters.

Olivier Deriviere’s interactive musical score for Remember Me features live orchestra that has been digitally processed and manipulated with multiple layers and effects to create a futuristic – but entirely organic and acoustic – musical palette which reflects Nilin’s memory loss and the reconstruction of her memories throughout the game.

Described by critics as “Cinematic and magnificent” (GameTrailers), “Fantastic and evocative” (IGN) and “One of the best soundtracks…this generation” (Destructoid), Deriviere’s score dynamically reacts to the player’s moves during gameplay and contains hidden messages about the story. Preview samples of the music are available on SoundCloud.

The score was recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Air Studios in London by GRAMMY® award-winning score engineer John Kurlander and mastered at Universal Mastering Studios in Los Angeles.

Olivier Deriviere has previously scored numerous animation, film and video game soundtracks including the critically acclaimed interactive scores for Alone In The Dark, Of Orcs and Men and the Obscure video game series. Deriviere works with renowned recording studios, world-class engineers and performers, as well as employing the latest software and custom library sounds. An alumnus of Berklee College of Music (Jazz & Film Scoring) and the National Conservatory in Nice, France (Composition and Orchestration), Deriviere has recorded for games with the GRAMMY® award-winning choir The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices, The Boston Cello Quartet, The Boston String Quartet, The Children Choir of the National Opera of Paris and The Philharmonia Orchestra in London. His music has also been performed by the Cannes Symphony Orchestra, Monte Carlo String Quartet, and Utrecht Metropolitan Orchestra and Choir (“Games In Concert”). For more information on Olivier Deriviere, visit

For more information on Remember Me, visit

Company of Heroes 2

Internationally celebrated composer Cris Velasco provides the original score for Relic Entertainment, Inc.’s Company of Heroes™ 2, the sequel to the highest rated strategy game of all time*.

Velasco is one of the most sought-after composers in the medium, best known for his award-winning music featured in the God of War and Mass Effect franchises. Recorded with world-class orchestra musicians and choir from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary, Velasco’s score for Company of Heroes 2 majestically captures the solemn heroism and human tragedy of the Eastern Front conflict during World War II. Company of Heroes 2 is scheduled to be released for PC on 25th June 2013.

Company of Heroes 2 moves the battle away from the common Western Front focus of World War II and refocuses on some of history’s most brutal and devastating conflicts on the Eastern Front, challenging players to take command of the iconic Red Army and repel the Nazi invaders from the very gates of Moscow.

“Cris Velasco’s score perfectly captures the heroism and tragedy that we set out to portray in Company of Heroes 2,” said Relic Entertainment Audio Director David Renn. “Cris worked tirelessly to provide us with rich and compelling music that is unlike any game soundtrack I have ever heard. From the depths of the Russian winter to the epic scale of Eastern Front battles, the score supports the game in a truly cinematic way and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”

“I approached this score from the very beginning as more of a ‘Symphony for the Eastern Front’ rather than a typical game score,” said Cris Velasco. “The music sets out to convey the horror of war and the determination of the Russian soldiers.”

Previously a BAFTA nominee and winner of “Best Original Score” at the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Achievement Awards (God of War), Cris Velasco’s music was recently honored with NBC News’ “Best Video Game Music of 2012″, GameTrailers’ “Best Soundtrack of the Year”, IGN’s “People’s Choice Award – Best Overall Music” (Mass Effect 3), and nominated for “Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition” at the 16th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards. Velasco’s upcoming score for Company of Heroes 2 is highlighted among the “Most Anticipated Video Game Soundtracks of 2013″ by Forbes.

Company of Heroes™ 2 will be available for PC in June 2013. For more information check

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