Brian Eno Scores Spore

Brian Eno Scores <i>Spore</i>
In the realm of videogames, keyboard players have got a bit of a raw deal. Sure, with games like Rock Band you can shred on the guitar, plunk away on the bass and pummel the drums but where are the keys? Where is the chance to modulate, oscillate and get intergalactic? Perhaps this obvious snub is why egghead producer extraordinaire Brian Eno has ignored such game franchises and gone another route altogether with Spore , the latest creature-feature odyssey from Sim City mastermind Will Wright.

The game, which was scored by Eno, simulates the evolution of creatures from ancient, single-cell organisms all the way to the space age, with you controlling what evolutionary path your species takes and in turn, the music. For example, make your creature some aggressive, testosterone-loaded knucklehead and the soundtrack will be noticeably different than that of some chilled-out, peace-loving plant-eater. This shiftable score uses what is called "procedural music" — meaning the music gamers will develop and mutate along with their playing style — with Eno providing the basis for much of the game's tracks.

While talking to Rolling Stone, Kent Jolly, audio director for Maxis/Electronic Arts, said Eno was down with the concept almost immediately. "In the first phone conversations with him, he really got the idea that the music was always changing, that it would be procedural, and he was really excited about it,” Jolly said. "Within a week of talking to him, without having set up anything, he sent us a full CD or more of stuff, and some of it was made right then, not just things he found on his computer, which was pretty amazing.”

Along with the procedural music, there are some more traditional tracks in Spore, which Jolly compares to Eno’s 1983 album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, but those songs also mutate and change shape.

And if all this Spore business isn’t far-out enough for you, in related Eno news, he has some other experiment in the works on his website. It now greets you with the message "Experiment Appearing Shortly,” which we’re guessing means exactly what it says.

Brian Eno "An Ending (Ascent)"