Friday, April 27, 2018

Music to Game to: Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Black Earth

I listen to a lot of music (over 40 days worth in 2017 according to and I find that few things help me keep the mood of a game foregrounded in my mind like a good soundtrack. Plus, I’ve discovered that when I’m playing music to a speaker via Bluetooth, I’m less likely to be on my phone, lest my players hear any stray sounds, letting me better model engagement during a game. To that end, I want to share some of my favorite music to game to; the albums that inspire and inflame my imagination and that I’ve found work well as background music for games as well. I’ll do a mini-review and cover the basics of what mood it helps me set.


I wish I still remembered how I discovered Bohren & Der Club of Gore, and through them, the sub-genre of Doom Jazz, but alas that has faded into the mists of my memories. What hasn’t faded is my love for this music-- Black Earth is a perfect example of Doom Jazz in my mind. Slow, even plodding, mellow, melancholic and haunted with a pervasive sense of gloom. It fades effortlessly into the background, letting you forget it and then sending swirling tendrils out to keep you just ever slightly on edge, its dissonances and sinister undertones always lurking below the surface to keep you uneasy without clamoring for your attention. Which is not to say there aren’t beautiful moments too, but they are every bit as haunting and reinforce the ghostly atmosphere instead of undercutting it.

  • Vocals?...No
  • Music Genre(s)…Doom Jazz, Ambient
  • Perfect for…Any game where you want a haunted, noir-inflected backdrop. Horror games where you want to subtly reinforce the tension and uncanny feelings instead of relying on shrieking violins ala Psycho.
  • If you only grab one track, make it…”Skeletal Remains”, which morphes slowly from a slow and sad piano, saxophone duet into something decidedly sinister with the addition of haunting and echoey synths and a switch from smooth saxophone style to one that conveys a barely restrained frenzy at times.

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