Friday, May 25, 2018

Music to Game To: Xordox - Neospection

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'm a JG Thirlwell junky...I’ve got a Manorexia tote-bag, I’ve even got Foetus on My Wall. He might be best known for his long-running Foetus project, or his work on the soundtrack on the Venture Bros (which is why I knew about that series before it ever aired back in 2003) but his Steroid Maximus, Manorexia and now, Xordox, projects work better for RPG soundtracks. All three projects share the cinematic feel of his soundtrack work, but the focused musical palette of Xordox, with only synthesizers and Sarah Lipstate (aka Noveller) processed guitars, lend it a cohesiveness that makes it less jarring for playing in the background then say, Manorexia’s The Radiolarian Ooze (which featured a warning that the skipping sound on the disc was intentional). Thirlwell describes Neospection as "Neon Noir" and that encapsulates it wonderfully, with the bright neon flare of 80’s sci-fi and the grittier paranoia of noir creeping in. It evokes those 80s soundtracks of John Carpenter and Vangelis, but without simply being tribute or pastiche. More than many other releases there’s an undercurrent of wonder as well, that keeps the album from descending into full darkness. There is really no way to do the album full justice, but it is far and away one of my favorite releases from 2017. Were I to run a Stranger Things/Papergirls inspired 80s sci-fi/time travel game, this one be a backbone of the soundtrack, along with S U R V I V E and John Carpenter’s Lost Themes.

  • Vocals?...Minimal and processed vocals on one song, “Destination”
  • Music Genre(s):...Experimental, Electronic
  • Perfect for...Any game with a bit of science fiction edge to it or where a bit of 80s throwback synth feel would be appropriate.
  • If you only grab one track, make it...“Pink Eye” which alternates between a low and pulsing melody and blasts of synth noise.

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