Super Turrican II – “Farewell” (arr. Chris Huelsbeck)November 7, 2010
When it goes to ending tracks that give a sense of finality and desolation, “Farewell” from Super Turrican II (1994), arranged on Chris Huelsbeck’s Sound Factory: Digital Audio Collection I (1995) has got to be one of the most complete, and it’s a much stronger rendition than the original SNES version. There’s a perfect combination of deep drum beats accented by a synth string orchestra and rock guitar. The main melody, played on a synth line, has long notes that tug at the sadness in the heart, waving goodbye to a constant companion before dissolving into the dark. Particular car was taken with the piano. The Sound Factory arrangement leaves a much stronger impression, with a mournful wail from synth line, a sad-sweet fluttering from the melancholic piano, and sinking guitar. There is an amazing piano solo in the middle of the track supported by emotional rises from the strings. The drumbeat is more strongly defined with a soothing rhythm that inspires a hollowness in the soul that is filled with the melody that strains for a joyful resolution but simply cannot reach far enough. The album is available off Amazon and iTunes.
“Farewell” was the ending from the final game in the Turrican series. The Turrican soldier stands outside the scarred starship that took him through the black hole to fight the the army of the Machine and thinks back to all the battles he fought and realizes that there are no more after this. It seems almost as if Mr. Huelsbeck had a premonition that we would not see any more Turrican games… (or for the 14+ years since the last installment, it might as well be ‘farewell’, but I sure hope we see him again!).
One interesting note about the Super Turrican II soundtrack is that it used Dolby surround at a time when very few games did. The audio was some of the best on the system. However, the compositions were a departure from the melody-heavy tracks of Huelsbeck’s earlier work, opting for a more orchestrated or filmic quality.
Back in the mid ’90s, up until about 1997, Chris Huelsbeck arranged a bunch of his original chiptune and mod tracks from Amiga, C64, and SNES using his midi sound library (which was also used in Jim Powers for the PCE). As a result, all the soundtracks have a very consistent sound to them. The best of these was the Turrican Original Video Game Soundtrack (1993), which was incidentally the first vgm album I ever owned (I actually got it from Synsoniq records back then they were a small company and so would hand-write thank-you post-it notes – I still have it! It has made me a lifelong customer). While the Super Turrican II ending theme doesn’t appear in the Turrican album (the game hadn’t even been made back then), it was for a time available on Mr. Huelsbeck’s page on MP3.com along with a few other sample tracks. Because there was a little extra space on the Turrican soundtrack, I arrange my album by sticking this track at the end after the megamix to put all the Turrican music together in one place.