Developing the Concept, Musical Tangents


When deciding to run with Caillois' ilinx as the core concept of the game's feel and play, I didn't really intending to decide on the theme until at least some of the game's mechanics are tested and solidified.

I just went a bit more into the meaning of the word (ilinx is Greek for whirlpool) and followed a trail of interesting links to the possible theme of the game. Firstly I did some light research on whirlpools, vortices and maelstroms and eventually ran into many magnificent works of literature and music featuring by the word Maelström, the chief among which is Edgar Allan Poe's "A Descent into the Maelström" (1841), an early example of science fiction, from which many subsequent works of art have taken inspiration. The trail of breadcrumbs provides a wealth of visual and auditory clues from artists who have explored the theme of the short story. I'll return to exploring the story itself later on but here's three orthogonally different pieces of musical "prior art" I have found.

Here's a piece that goes full out ilinx on you. Jazz pianist Lennie Tristano's take on the theme is... well, blatantly appropriate. Certainly something to listen to when doing sound design. I'll leave this here for now.

A fun little piece from 1977 by the Australian group Radio Birdman. Not as conceptually composed but a solid piece of punk rock nonetheless.


A particularly inspiring piece was a less-known album-length piece by Philip Glass that was commissioned by Australian Dance Theatre in 1986. Aussies sure love to take on Poe.

This is an hour-long meditation on the theme and might became a somewhat weary with the missing theatrical function it was written for. What works extremely well for me is the intense use of arpeggios (classic Glass), the use of a mix of 70s and 80s synthesizers without going too far into the cheesiest end of DX7 domain. In hindsight, if I was about to commission a soundtrack for anything ilinx, Glass would have been the obvious first choice.

I have changed the name of the project to MOSKOE after a small island off the coast of Norway next to the original maelstrom Moskstraumen.

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