Frontier Nua is a selection of music from an unreleased point and click adventure from the 90s set in a strange, rural 19th Century Ireland. Sweeping electronic themes intermingle with traditional Irish music to create retro, lo-fi soundscape reminiscent of the iconic chiptune soundtracks of the 90s.
Musically, I was influenced by big names from the golden era of adventure games, like Frank Klepacki, Stéphane Picq and Michael Land. There is a definite lean towards Irish/Rock/Prog bands too, with hints of Horslips, Thin Lizzy, Moving Hearts, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Bill Whelan. I must also say that Ronan Browne’s work with Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu gave me the confidence to try it and that this all might just work.
When I started this project, I knew I wanted to capture the sounds of those old DOS games. The Adlib and Soundblaster cards both used the Yamaha YM3812 chip to achieve their unique timbre. At one stage I owned a keyboard with the same chip which it had that DOS sound–it was incredible. However, for the sake of simplicity, I used modern emulation to get the same results with the convenience of a contemporary DAW. In keeping with the theme, I tried to stay true to the techniques of the tracker modules and lean in to those weird idiosyncrasies of old game soundtracks.
For some of the tracks, live audio was taken from instruments and then converted into MIDI notes for the emulated FM synth to play back. Others were more traditionally programmed in, note by note, like the drums, arpeggios, and so on.
The pixel artwork was created specifically for this album, based on some photos of The Burren and a few nods to other album covers in the Irish traditional music idiom. The pieces are available to purchase as an archival-quality print in 12x12”, the same size as a vinyl record sleeve.
I hope you enjoy–I might even do a live band version of this one day.