Terry Taylor - Terry S. Taylor's Imaginarium
Way back in the days when Windows 95 was considered like new technology, Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen were readying Dreamworks for their first venture into the game world. The game was going to be like nothing else: Doug TenNapel, creator of Earthworm Jim, was given carte blanche to create a clay animation game that would blast the boundaries of the medium into orbit. To give the game an even more original spin, TenNapel decided to have a studio produced soundtrack by the prolific Terry Taylor. The Neverhood was indeed a critical smash hit but failed to find a wide enough audience but created an avid fanbase that to this day are still playing the game long after it is no longer commercially available.
Taylor and TenNapel remained good friends and have continued to collaborate over the years and the current double CD pretty much covers all their collaborative output. Now, I must concede listening to a game soundtrack is a pretty weird idea but that would be discounting Taylor's talent for arrangement and pastiche. The first CD features a stomping 43 tracks (though most of them are only a minute long) giving you the entire soundtrack to the Neverhood as well as 4 early demos of the tracks. The music is brilliantly eclectic with horn bands, tin pan alley, orchestras, acoustic and electric guitars all finding their way into the compositions. No real lyrics really emerge as it's mostly nonsensical vocalisations or straight instrumentals sounding a bit like Tom Waits having a manic phase.
The second CD features the soundtracks to two further game collaborations (Skullmonkeys and Boombots) which take a more percussion orientated approach with the additions of some drum loops and some fine surf guitar. Some more bonus tracks are tagged onto the end, including the theme tune to the ill-fated Fox animation GeekDad.
What is the most shocking about this double CD is that it's actually very, very good and a good instrumental album in its own right. Forget the fact the music was not originally meant to be heard in this form - it's a fantastic piece of work by a musician that has done his utmost to give gamers something completely different from the usual sub-electronica game soundtrack. Granted it's one weird collection of songs but they are great fun to listen to all the same.
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