Gaming Soundtrack: Terma

I like using music in my games to enhance the atmosphere, regardless of system or genre.  My primary goal for “Gaming Soundtrack” posts here is to regularly highlight albums I find particularly effective in-game, with occasional detours into the purely “inspirational” category for a change of pace.  I’m not going for full-blown reviews here; there will be some standard review content about technical aspects of the performance or production, along with some commentary on its in-game usefulness.  With that said, I offer the first installment of “Gaming Soundtrack.”

TUU & Nick Parkin, Terma (Hearts of Space, 1998)

Tuu were an “organic ambient” ensemble active through the 1990s and early 2000s, now sadly defunct.  Led by percussionist-synthesist-composer Martin Franklin, this album finds the group teaming up with flautist Nick Parkin; not surprisingly, flute and percussion are prevalent throughout, with synth pads and electronics providing a lush background of ambient sounds and slow-moving drones.  Percussion isn’t usually a featured instrument on ambient music recordings, but Franklin’s minimalist work on frame drum, clay pots, gongs, Tibetan bowls, and other metals is tasteful and rich-sounding.  I find the frame drum in the opening track “Djinn” is especially enchanting and hypnotic, setting the mind’s eye stage for a voyage through darkly exotic desert landscapes…

This album, like the rest of Tuu’s discography, seems best suited for open-air adventures and overland travel, especially through hills, plains, and desert.   Like many ambient offerings, the seven tracks on Terma flow and fade into one another seamlessly, so give it a spin and explore the wilderness for a while.  My only lament is the disc’s length: only 45 minutes, short for a modern ambient album.  Still, that’s 45 quality minutes of hex-crawling through your favorite sandbox, so what are you waiting for?


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