Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Musi(c.)PSX: Atom Bomb (1996)

Sony's Playstation console was first released in Japan in December of 1994.
A year later, it spread across the globe, leading to it's eventual assimilation into modern living. The console was officially discontinued by Sony in 2006, but began a process of phasing out with the 2000 release of the Playstation2. Known in it's early years colloquially as the PSX, the console was characterised by a slick attitude that met modern gamers on varying levels, boasting releases like Wipeout, which fused electronic music culture with the gaming experience. This post is a celebration of that time. Music circa (c.) the PSX

Fluke - Atom Bomb (1996)

It was only a matter of time before it came to this...
When the mid-nineties introduced a new variable into the home console equation, it was Wipeout, and the game's close association with the PSX, that formed a compelling argument to abandon the sinking Sega ship before their fate was even sealed.

Combining a slick sci-fi setting with future beats from talented dance acts; the Wipeout series instantly established itself as much more than a game. By featuring tracks from established club acts like, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, and Orbital, while also defining the work of Tim Wright, the games quite literally transcended the console through conventional CD capabilities.

UK dance act, Fluke, might've been around for a decade prior, but it was the '96 recording of Atom Bomb that handed them their biggest mainstream success to that date. Created for the first sequel,  Wipeout 2097; the single reached the upper echelons of European pop charts, creating an iconic vision that supported the cross promotional maelstrom instigated for SCEE.

More so than other entries in this series of blog articles; Atom Bomb presents a very literal example of the discussion between the PSX and it's counterpart entertainment contemporaries. It leads one to ponder exactly why it was music had become so significant to games at this period.

Obviously, as already discussed, there was a deliberate communication between pre-existing facets of entertainment that happily benefitted mutually from this association.
Bridging talents like Chris Cunningham [discussed previously], and the artists featured in Europe's first launch title, Wipeout, brought a complimentary aesthetic to a platform clearly conceived, (at least in Europe), to represent the fashionable dance sub-culture.

Music has always been important to gaming.
While hardware developed perpetually to support expanding technical aspirations, creators happily pushed the technology to it's very limits in the pursuit of sound. This total immersion of interaction was comparable to film, but arguably far more significant, as the repeating tones of a good soundtrack replaced dialogue to emote far beyond the limited animations of 8 and 16 bit sprites.

Games weren't without their memorable or iconic tunes before the PSX, but the development of a CD-based machine capable of replicating the fidelity and complexity of conventional pop music arguably signed the death warrant of past midi compositions.
As graphical capabilities developed visuals toward a similar quality, the comparisons between gaming and film were inevitably growing more accurate. This facility of imitation meant the corporate logics that steered cinema toward sourced pop tunes were ripe to be replicated in games, even if their motivation was now artistically contemporary, rather than strictly corporate driven (ie; Batman's 1989 Prince soundtrack).

These congregating movements almost inevitably gave us Wipeout.
They were part of an industrial machine racing toward the year 2000, like some sort of technological competitor with space-faring Russians. It was a time of techno aspiration and high production, giving us music we could not only walk away from humming, but also take with us in fantastic dual purchase.
It was a time of tremendous value. I miss it.

Original Post: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8991001

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