Friday, July 23, 2010
Music Spotlight: The awesome Tim Follin.
The year was 1991. The time: One of the most interesting Christmases of my youth. For starters a savage flu bug made it's way through the entirety of our household, which caused all of us to sing Xmas Carols in the tune of both dry and wet heaving. The flu went on to cause the inevitable tossing of my sister's treasure troll doll (much to my overly religious father's pleasure), and the repainting of my bedroom wall from alabaster to spaghetti and meatsauce. Disgusting, I know, but bear with me. Despite all of that, I received a copy of Treasure Master from my parents; a yearly attempt from them to feed a ravenous hunger I had for a challenging NES game. Of course this turned into an adventure in playing one of the most frustrating games of my gaming career. Treasure Master can be at times unplayable and broken, and yet I still found myself trying to reach it's end again and again.
I'll save a detailed account of the game for a later time, because that's not the focus of this article. Actually, I want to talk about the music of the game which started me on a path of seeking out information on it's composer. A young man from England with very little training in music who pretty much grew to make some of the most awesome music you're probably heard in passing. This is a Fullscreen Spotlight on the video game career of wunderkind composer, Tim Follin.
Don't worry, I'm not going to pull one of those "Behind the music" deals and tell you about Tim's life. I think it would be much better of Tim, himself told you about his start in the world of BGM composing. Take it away, Tim.
Why you should care
I could tell you plattitudes of reasons why you should care, but if I did that I would be doing this man a complete disservice. If you really want to know why you should care about Tim's body of work, you should listen to some of his greatest accomplishments starting with a game that I picked up at random, only to be blown away by the game's title screen alone.
I love how the music crashes against your eardrums like a raging ocean against a rocky crag. The wonderous celtic tones just bring you in deeper and deeper into the strange world of the game. This is what a title screen should be. This is enough to get you competely hyped for a dangerous adventure. The first time I popped this cart into my NES I was just blown away at the level of detail present in the music. There's seriously a point where it stops being bleeps and bloops and starts to take on the sound of actual instruments. Maybe that's just my imagination, but damn, that's powerful stuff! To think that this was accomplished with the limited sound channels of the NES is nothing short of amazing !!
Did this track seem almost like Prog rock, reader? Tim cites inspiration from Progressive Rock as well as Soul, Electronica, Metal, and other genres. He's also wasn't afraid to play around with other people's works in order to create something fresh and interesting. Getting back to Treasure Master Let's take a listen to it's title screen music.
Sound familiar? If you grew up in the 70s or 80s watching reruns you'd get that this is actually a sly little nod to the theme for Starsky and Hutch.
Eventually in 2003 he succeeded in becoming the composer for the Starsky and Hutch game, which if Wikipedia is to be believed, one of his biggest acchievements due to his love of the series and it's title music. The soundtrack to the game is really well done, and fits perfectly into the 70s themed game which was actually based on the television show.
Other popular games he's composed for have been LED Storm for the Atari ST, Spiderman and the Xmen: Arcade's Revenge, Plok, Silver Surfer, Time Trax for the Mega Drive, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future for Dreamcast, Bubble Bobble for the Amiga and the Commodore 64 version of Bionic Commando, Gauntlet III and Ghouls and Ghosts. In quite a few cases he composed these songs with his brother Geoff who also went on to compose his own soundtracks like LJN's Wolverine game for the NES. The last game Tim has ever worked on was Lemmings which was featured on the Playstation PS2 and PSP.
Where is he now?
Sadly, Tim has retired from video games in 2005. He felt that it was time to change careers due to the difficult nature of the business. He's been working in freelance graphic design, and had expressed interest in doing work in television and film. He directed two short films, One of his short films lead him to win an award for best short at the Salford Film Festival. He eventually developed his own studio which handles commercials, and title sequences for television shows and composing music for films. His website currently states that he's offering his services for freelance for competitive prices.
It's very interesting to note that Tim has been in the business of video games since he was 15, but has little to no interest in actual gaming. A really interesting statement from a man who's left a really big impact on the video game music scene, and who's music has created a countless number of fans, myself included.
Source(s): Dr Follin's Surgery , Tim Follin acedemic wiki , Youtube ,