The Terminator – “Destinationz Unknown” (Tommy Tallarico)

December 14, 2009

I’m going to go on a whim and say that this track is probably my favorite piece Tommy Tallarico has composed. That’s saying quite a bit as it goes all the way back to 1993 on the Sega CD version of The Terminator. It’s got some grungy early 90s synths and recording, but the guitars here are fantastic and the composition is so deeply layered and following the style of the original score that it’s simply unstoppable.

The Terminator – “Destinationz Unknown” (Tommy Tallarico)

“Destinationz Unknown” plays in the factory stage, before Kyle Reese jumps into the time portal. It’s got the Arnold robots and smashing machines, just the kind of thing you would expect to see in Terminator land (though not as awesomely done as in Terminator 4). The combination of guitars in minor key, drums, and piano makes this feel right at home with Brad Fiedel’s original score (the game has a rendition of the theme song). This is dark, brooding metal, and it fits nicely with the theme of robot apocalypse and the danger of technology racing ahead of mankind (which is also ironic as some o the music is played using a machine). The music box ending is a wonderful surreal touch and totally flipped my mind the first time I heard it. The great audio is due to the fact that the guitars are live recorded, one of the first times this had been done in a videogame (Tallarico suggests the first time, but I think some Japanese composers beat him to it on the Turbo CD) and was made possible thanks to CDs and Redbook audio.

The entire composition group of The Terminator consisted of Tommy Tallarico, Bijan Shaheer, Joey Kuras and TeknoMan, with Tallarico being credited for this piece on Tommy Tallarico Virgin Greatest Hits Volume One (1994), which he described as “a wild-rockin’ digital cyber-journey into the realm of optical sound.” Actually, the album seems pretty instrumental in getting the word out on vgm back in the early 90s. It’s a little odd though as if you owned a copy of the game, it was redbook audio, and so you could stick it into your CD player and play the music there (which I’m sure a lot of people did). The game also featured more tracks (from the game) than what was on the CD and they also didn’t have some annoying voice effects in the intro of one of the tracks. I’m not sure though if the versions on Virgin Greatest Hits were remastered or not, but I don’t think the cover won any awards:

In any case, both the game and the CD are out of print, which is a damn shame as it makes it that much harder to find the music (the disc can be purchased for a bit less off of ebay).

Now Tommy Tallarico is one of the rockstars of the games industry. He’s appeared on TV shows, started up the amazing Game Audio Network Guild, and Video Games Live, the travelling concert of orchestrated game music (which is pretty cool if it stops by your area). He’s pretty outspoken (especially for his undying hatred of Kirby) but recently got the Ambassador Award from the IGDA for his work with the game music industry (a noble achievement). If you ever get a chance to attend the ridiculously expensive GDC, you can see him and let him know what you think at the GANG Awards, which is well worth attending. However, he doesn’t look too much like this ridiculous photograph from the album, which looks like he just walked out of Fresh Prince of Bel Aire:



  1. Yo!,

    Thanks for the memories! 🙂


    • Tommy,

      Thanks for stopping by the site. The whole point is to try and get more people interested in vgm. Any word on getting some of these old albums reissued digitally? Personally, I think the high cost of vgm and most albums being out of print is a reason for why there is both a lot of piracy and not many people buying. I started picking up more albums once Gamemusic began doing clearance sales, but it’s insane to pay $30 for an album from Japan, especially when you find the album isn’t all that great, so I only do it when I know I’m going to like the album. What’s even worse is many of the best albums are now more than $100 used on ebay. There is no benefit for paying some chump $100 for music when the original composer makes nothing. Composers can go through more distributors now than iTunes – Magnatune even offers lossless downloads in addition to MP3s, and they already sell the Braid soundtrack. I think it would be great if you let some people know about options for lossless digital downloading like Magnatune (I tend to stay away from iTunes because they don’t offer lossless).

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