A well-timed synergy of two goals: wanting to model Terraria’s bosses in 3D and needing a tonne of music for the time-lapse videos, and wanting to experiment with sample-driven music. My digital music making journey is almost a year old now (from the Game of Thrones intro parody video). Being a life-long hip hop fan, I caught myself wondering “why use samples when making unique sonic ideas in this day and age is two mouse clicks away?” This project is an attempt to answer this question with a set of samples built from music I’m all too familiar with: Resonance Array’s under-appreciated Terraria soundtrack, a perfect blend of orchestral music and old-school video game sounds.
The album cover is a parody and fusion of Nas’ Illmatic (the translucent overlay of the archetypal Terraria character reflecting on the crazy world he inhabits) and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. city (the white frame and graffiti text). However, instead of a Polaroid photo, it is a CRT monitor, a nod to the retro aesthetic of Terraria.
Warbeats’ Dr. Dre-style composition recipe was the launching pad for this project, with the use of crisp drum samples, orchestral hits, and the “West Coast whistle” sine-wave phrases defining some of the earlier tracks. Over time, the tracks get increasingly experimental and draw inspirations from Death Grips’ and RZA’s abrasive and coarse-cut sampling styles.
To accompany the music videos on YouTube, I modelled and rendered some of Terraria’s simple but iconic objects in turntable animations and plastered graffiti all over them.
In retrospect, it’s difficult to gauge how successful this project was. Sampling ideas from the game’s extensive soundtrack is like panning for diamonds in a pile of gold. It’s impressive how little repetition the game’s tracks use, and yet each track has so many sonic and musical ideas that can be expanded to full tracks that stand on their own.
Terrarian State of Mind’s compositions have tried to do many things: clean, Dr Dre-inspired (Make My Slime the Blue Slime); multi-section, highly-layered (Honeyed Herplings, The Land of Deceiving Looks); minimalistic, sample driven (Skellington J. Skellingsworth, Why Do I Hear Boss Music?); crescendos (You are a Terrible Person); industrial (Soul of Might, Skeletron Sans); lo-fi (Lunar Lunatic Lo-Fi); and straight experimental (Call of the Moon Lord).
I often revisit the individual tracks from Terrarian State of Mind, and my enjoyment of them as a piece of music is erratic: sometimes I think I’ve struck gold, other times I might think the same track is a dud. Regardless, it was an enjoyable journey, and the foremost priority was experimentation: trying to recontextualise samples, layering different sounds, making each track different, and creating a soundscape as wild, chaotic, maximalist, flavourful, and multi-faceted as Terraria itself.