Earlier this week, colleague C inflicted a couple of earworms on me. First there was Tangerine Dream's soundtrack from the motion picture The Thief (particularly Diamond Diary and Burning Bar). Then - new to me - came Psychotic Photosynthesis, by Omar-S.
Knowing C regularly reads this blog, I've decided to exact my revenge on him, using Skaven's music from the appropriately addictive Bejeweled 2: "Beyond The Network" (2004).
It takes a couple of playthroughs. And then, it becomes a big mystery, how Skaven manages to evoke an ethereal 80s quite so strongly: a decade of mediocre electronica, set in a new romantic milieu. I thought I'd managed to avoid it entirely; abstract orchestral music and I were exclusive in those days. And yet somehow, listening to this sprawling and hypnotic, 40 minute ambient synth suite, I can hear the entire early catalog, not of say Kraftwerk, as might have been expected; but of Simple Minds.
Often I've been tempted to ask Skaven, real name Peter Hajba, real country Finland, "What's your secret?" But it would be insulting, even to suggest that any one "secret" might account for the multifarious effects of this tour-de-force, with its many hooks, its forgivably cheesy bits, the remorseless grip of that so-well informed nostalgia. And besides, from Future Crew News at the time of the game's release, we have from Skaven's own honest account: the music "represents literally years of work, bringing together new ideas, old ideas, inspiration and horrible clichés."
A flawed masterwork, then (my highest accolade).