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Unreal Music Track by Track

Welcome to my critique of the music supplied with Unreal and Return to Na Pali, presented to you on a track by track basis. These comments were written whilst listening to the relevant tracks / song sections, so that I could get into the mood of the track. The comments attempt to convey the feelings the tracks provoke, and I have also included a variety of extra information: the true title and composer of the track where available, levels in which the track is used, and an arbitrary "star" rating that is scaled relatively and based entirely on the repertoire available, with no external factors included. Star ratings are out of five and describe how much I enjoy listening to the track in question.

Flyby "Flightcastle" by Alexander Brandon

Nali Castle (intro), Nali Castle (RtNP intro)

The dramatic cymbal clash that opens the Unreal castle flyby welcomes players to the Unreal universe with a sense of power and space. The rhythmic track that follows carries suspense and wonder as the new player is flown around the dramatic Nali Castle exterior with shining floors, water mist, burning torches and fluttering flags. The track also makes an effective return as the flyby to the new Nali Castle at the start of Return to Na Pali. All in all, while short, it does everything it needs to do as the opening track.

Vortex "Vortex Rikers" by Alexander Brandon

Vortex Rikers

"Vortex Rikers" is a very moody track quite unlike most of the other Unreal music, although resembling a more harmonic version of Opal. The majority of the track is in song section 0, which combines an ambient sound backing with a slow, gentle foreground harmonic theme. Later on in the section, the track erupts into high drama with the addition of a powerful bass motif. It tells the tale of the player's exploration of his crippled prison ship, with one gruesome discovery after another in the claustrophobic confines. And for the tensest moment, a heated battle just out of view behind a partly sealed door, song section 1 is introduced, the sound of a quiet heartbeat. Truly an amazingly atmospheric piece.

Dusk "Dusk Horizon" by Alexander Brandon

NyLeve's Falls, Sacred Passage

The sound of a gentle wind opens song section 0 of the throbbing track that marks the player's first exploration of the surface of this beautiful planet. As he steps out of the crashed ship onto a mountain plateau, a song of majestic chords and vibrant harmonies surrounds him. The deep bass chords and high floating melody that ensue are perfectly in tune with the sight of a deep canyon where a waterfall cascades into a lake below. But within the cliffs of the serene environment a dark menace lurks, and as the first Brute emerges from a mining bunker, flinging a human carcass out of the way as it goes, enter song section 1 - an electric, heavy action piece symbolising the player's first real challenge and fight. The adventure is just beginning.

DigSh "Dig - Shareware Version" by Alexander Brandon

Rrajigar Mine, Depths of Rrajigar

As the player enters the confines of a huge underground mining facility, song section 2 of this track accompanies him. This introductory piece is a sad song with an added element of tension that guides the player through the upper levels of the facility, as the minor key backing is mixed with a floating harmony and the occasional complementary twang. But the mood this instils does not last for long, for it is not long before the player finds himself locked in a dark passage...
Enter song section 1. With field generator power disrupted, a Skaarj Scout leaps out on the unsuspecting player and he finds himself duking it out with an agile, menacing foe amidst red strobing lights and a fast, action reel in stark contrast to the gentle strumming of the previous section of the track. Rapid beat mingles with occasional slower harmonies as the player enters the deeper levels.
Within the depths of the facility after a period of silence, song section 0 finally makes its appearance. A slow piece with a strong beat and high, drawn out synthetic harmonies gives the player a sense of progress, that they are travelling some kind of journey. And so they are, for the track is very evocative of the tunnels and chambers of the mining facility. Truly a track with a lot to offer.

Chizra1 "Chizra" by Michiel Van Den Bos and Alexander Brandon

Chizra - Nali Water God

The player steps into an ancient Nali temple nestled within the cliffs of a small mountain plateau. An aura of hush descends as the gentle panpipe theme of "Chizra" intertwines with his auditory senses. With a harmonious, throbbing bass, the track takes the player through images of serenity, mysticism, and gods of ages old in these torch lit sandstone chambers. As the track moves on, in comes the drama as the song approaches its resonant climax, which is signified by a culmination of the harmony played by the bass part. The frogs, torches and running water of the temple blend seamlessly with this masterful score of music leaving the player totally immersed in the setting around him. One of my favourite tracks in all of Unreal.

Seti "SETI" by Michiel Van Den Bos

The Ceremonial Chambers

Drama, deep within the temple of Chizra. The defilement of the sacred building by the Skaarj and the Slith becomes all the more prominent, as does the shameless slaughter of the Nali. Played on some kind of mystical vibraphone backed by a techno bass, song section 0 of this track evokes tension, fear and a plethora of emotions in sharp contrast to the serenity of the previous track. With fast and slow movements, it reflects the diversity of the locales in the ceremonial chambers; sandstone rooms, passages of water, and a huge outdoor canyon. The section accompanies the scene throughout, great for the atmosphere, but such a shame in a way that song section 1 goes unused. The moment of highest drama in the track, a fast bass tension theme accompanied by a synthetic harmony later on to complete the mood, which creates a whole new set of feelings for the listener. All in all, a great track.

Nali "Nali Chant" by Alexander Brandon

Dark Arena, The Eldora Well (RtNP)

A haunting triplet welcomes the player to a barren valley within which looms the darkest of Nali structures, the evil dark arena. The sound of Nali monks chanting backs the start of song section 0, which soon gives way to an up-tempo tension song with a synthetic bass providing a slow melody and plucked strings for a foreground harmony. With moments of a synthetic foreground providing contrast, this diverse track accompanies well the barren valley, dungeons beneath the arena and the upper ring of passageways and galleries. There is suspense... a feeling of something ghastly to come... something that lies within the centre of the arena perhaps.
And so you're here... the arena... the central gantry rises and huge doors open around you... and out bursts a gigantic Titan, to the accompaniment of the dramatic song section 1. A fast bass foreground with drawn out backing chords and other tension reels has the adrenalin pumping as you fight the gigantic beast within the confined space. Ideally suited to the dark arena level, song section 0 is revisited in the Eldora well level of the mission pack, but not to the same effect. Let a great atmospheric track rest in peace.

Hub2 "Hub 2" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Harobed Village, Glathriel Village (RtNP)

The dark arena was a horrifying scene, and so to follow it come the gentle strains of song section 0 of this magical evening themed track. With a gentle, plucked backing that makes no strong demands on the senses and a floating, high melodic track, this track allows the player to relax a little in the open spaces of the Harobed Village valley. Later on we get a derivative of the track's main theme in the bass part. A slow, soothing section, which is sharply contrasted when the player is ambushed by a Skaarj at the village's abbey to the sudden drama of song section 2 - the gentle bass is suddenly replaced by a fast-paced tension beat accentuated by bursts of sound in another part. No great melody, but a short-lived action piece to break the spell of the serene environment.
The odd section out in the track has to be the unused song section 1, which doesn't entirely fit in with the feel of the scene as either an ambient or an action part. A strumming, faster piece with a quiet synthetic harmony in the higher range that has a feel of movement but no real purpose.
The relaxation of song section 0 is welcome and makes its return as the main theme for Glathriel Village in the mission pack, a night time town for which it is also well suited.

K_vision "Nightvision" by Sandman

Terraniux Underground, Terraniux

A fast techno reel welcomes the player to a high-tech Mercenary ship with song section 0 of this powerful action track. The reel soon gives way to a strong beat that is accompanied by a fast foreground which gives way to a synthetic harmony later on. The beat is kept prominently going throughout except for two short sections, one of which has a bouncy, intermittent bass and the other of which is a lot gentler, having just the synthetic harmony and a few extra sound effects, but the rhythm is soon back with a vengeance. Overall, a diverse track which passes through a variety of moods but is always upbeat. For the more prolonged battles, we have the short song section 1 - a more monotonous rhythm section with a repetitive bass and a few more interesting synthetic sounds in the upper part to give it depth.

Fourth "Hub 4" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Noork's Elbow

It seems to be at this point that the ambience of Unreal takes a darker turn. You're back in the wilderness, but night has begun to fall and, in the shadow of the gigantic Terraniux facility, it's not so sunny any more. Song section 0 of this track guides you through the valley: a sinister, ominous track with the melody played at first in the resounding bass voice, with moments of harmony in the upper part used as accent. Later on, we get a slow, haunting melody in the upper registers answering the call of the bass part. And so the track alternates and loops seamlessly, with a moment of a different bass melody at the end of the repeated section for drama.
As Mercenaries ambush the player, a harsh opening sound cues song section 1. A fast, high-tension track, which inherits the same bass voice as the ambient section but playing a faster, less static tune. The upper part accents the bass and ample percussion is included to heighten the drama. Later, a much higher voice plays a few tension triplets and the bass responds, before the song section returns to a more normal sound, and then for final flourish the two parts work together to create some final tension harmonies. Then the track loops.

UTemple "Unreal Crypt" by unknown

Temple of Vandora, Velora Temple (RtNP)

The mystical vibes of Seti return to provide the opening "bong" of song section 0 of this cleverly written temple track. There follows a slow melody played on a kind of arcane, ghostly call. From there the track builds up voices; more vibes, a sitar-esque string, quiet monk voices and then a synthetic bass. As the track picks up speed, more voices work together to a great overall effect. A medium paced track with a good sense of movement with a pleasing theme tune when the track reaches full strength. After it's played its melodies, the voices die down again and it returns to the ethereal beginning of the section. A very atmospheric whole. And so it's all the more shocking when the player is ambushed to the suddenly accelerated refrain of song section 1. While unremarkable in itself, this song section with percussion, bass and a synthetic tune in the upper registers ups the tension enough for the fight.
Song section 0 is revisited by the Velora Temple level in the mission pack, but again it doesn't have quite the same effect as in the superior Temple of Vandora.

Fifth "Hub 5" by Michiel Van Den Bos

The Trench

Darkness is descending on the Nali planet as the player reaches a rough earth trench carved out by the crashing arrival of the ill-fated Terran vessel ISV-Kran. In this unnatural valley where only the wind breaks the silence, the player is stalked by airborne Gasbags and gigantic Titans. It's a cold, sinister picture, and so song section 0 of this unnerving piece of work has a lot of ambience and not a great deal of melody. A quiet, static bass is accompanied by a slow, uneasy synthetic harmony with occasional upper register quadruplets and other tension-making effects. And so it continues throughout... until the player is spotted, whereupon the ambience quickly transfers to the action of song section 1. Whilst true to the ambient section in overall feel, this section is a faster, more musical piece with a much more active bass and some complimentary sounds in the upper registers that takes a moment to get going, but doesn't let up when it does. It does the job well.

Newmca9 "Unreal #9" by Michiel Van Den Bos

ISV-Kran Deck 4

The gentle, throbbing bass of this quiet theme tune welcomes the player to the shattered hulk of an Earth ship infested with Skaarj. Song section 0 is just the bass at first, but a familiar quadruplet brings in a slow, vibrating synthetic tune in the upper register. The voice shortly gets a double and gives way to a synthetic strings voice, and the two then end up in chorus to complete the piece. While it has tense moments, it's basically a sad piece of music that hints at shattered dreams and the terrible disaster of the ship crash-landing on the planet's surface and being invaded by the Skaarj.
All the better for contrast when a claxon is set off, and with a powerful if conventional flourish, song section 1 takes over as the player has to take on one Skaarj after another until a ventilation duct finally opens and he can proceed. The bass part gains more percussion and life, and the synthetic strings play a short tension track in the upper register, after which it loops back to a period of just the tension beat. Overall, a good piece of music.

Kran32 "Unreal #9" by Michiel Van Den Bos

ISV-Kran Decks 3 and 2

This track is nothing more than a remix of Newmca9, but song section 0 has a much lighter bass and sounds quite different as a result, with a greater emphasis on the upper register melody - besides that, the only noticeable change is a quiet swooping noise at the opening of the track. But, for a variation on the theme, it does the job well enough.
As to song section 1, it's much the same as before, but with a slightly less conventional opening sound effect. There's not a lot more to say that I haven't covered above.

Kran2 "Unreal #9" by Michiel Van Den Bos

ISV-Kran Deck 1

This track is another remix of Newmca9, but is probably my favourite of the three. Song section 0 has the same theme tune but with another new bass that's somewhere between the thunkiness of Newmca9 and the twanginess of Kran32. And, as the melody builds up more strength, it is joined by a couple of new harmonies in the upper register that really accentuate the mood that the track is trying to set forwards.
As to song section 1, well, it's the same as in Newmca9, just with a slightly different opening and some slightly more tense chords. It still does the job well enough, although maybe it's becoming a little familiar by this stage.

Spire "Hub 3" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Spire Village, The Sunspire, Spire Valley (RtNP)

The sound of a distant wind opens song section 0 of this story-telling track. Hearing this music the player truly has a sad, lonely feeling as he arrives in a small, nighttime Nali village. The wind rumbles quietly overhead as he weaves his way up a huge valley, meeting Titans on the way, as he heads for his goal, the mighty Sunspire mountain. The diaries of the Nali who live in the houses are becoming desperate pleas for help from the gods, as their world is decimated piece by piece. It's a memorable experience, and I can listen to this music for a long time without becoming tired of it. The slow, sombre bass with synthetic string and plucked string melodies creates a very atmospheric song. Reprised for the mission pack Spire Valley level.
And so the player reaches and enters his goal, the huge Sunspire mountain hollowed out inside with great care by Nali of ages past. But this venerable Nali haven which was once a sanctuary is now the foulest of terrors, and the player must give it his all to reach the top. And so, with a tense opening, commences song section 2 - a theme which has a slow meandering opening that gives way to a firmer beat and a prominent theme tune which has a good sense of upward movement and fits the darkened chambers of the Sunspire perfectly. It's also a taste of some of the musical styles to come later in the game.
Which leaves just the unused song section 1. Very much in the voices and flavour of song section 0, this tension track is a nice musical effort, it just has no place in the original game. But it creates a good sense of a player on a mission, hence its use in my own map TheLanding2. Overall, through all three sections, an excellent and memorable track.

Surface "Surfacing" by Alexander Brandon

Gateway to Na Pali

A ride on the SkyElevator takes the player to a cave network within a floating sky island. The beautiful caves are full of streams, glowing tarydium crystals, and Nali woodwork and lanterns. Ducking between rock passageways and bridges over the space below, the sky around the player is a beautiful purple with other sky islands visible in the distance. And as such, cue the up-tempo sound of "Surfacing" with a bouncy bass and backing mingled with a variety of synthetic voices providing some foreground interest and a brief passage of melody. This song truly captures the magical feel of the place, more strident than the typical Unreal ambient music and standing out among the others for this reason.

SkyTwn "All Hallows Sunset" by Alexander Brandon

Na Pali Haven

Atop the mystical sky island stands nighttime Na Pali town. A former sanctuary of life, with its beautiful stone and plaster buildings, paved roadways, and lanterns on posts. The player will see a waterfall, a lake and a gigantic obelisk providing power to keep the sky island afloat. This magical scene is accompanied by the gentle but motive song section 0 of this thoughtful track; a slow opening with some peaceful but sad harmonies soon leading into a strumming plucked string track that is decidedly Mediterranean in style. Provocative of a wide range of feelings, I have always found this song appealing.
A Skaarj ambush in the cellar beneath a barn is accompanied by the sudden drama of song section 1; with a thumping base drum as backing, the upper register plays a tune of rising tension to accompany the combat. A fitting, contrasting combat theme to the main level music that serves the brief combat well.

Isotoxin "Isotoxin" by Necros

Outpost 3J

Within a mountain above Na Pali town is the Skaarj observation station of Outpost 3J. A colourfully lit installation packed with Skaarj has a feel of high combat as conveyed by the stonking "Isotoxin" by Necros. Right from the start there is a heavy synthetic bass beat accompanied soon enough by some heavy synthetic foreground sounds, although with little actual tune. Such is the mood for some time, with a few train-like drum effects and other effects creeping in along the way, although the track eventually calms down somewhat to a quieter section featuring a synthetic organ superimposed over the beat, to good effect. But the peace does not last for long as the organ dies off and the track returns to its robotic sounding opening sequence. Another diverse action track true to Unreal form.

Guardian "Guardian" by Alexander Brandon

Velora Pass

Returning to the surface, the player arrives in a quiet, barren valley with thunder and lightning sounding off in the distance. Ascending the slope he comes upon a great stone giant dormant in a covered throne. But suddenly with a clash the beast comes alive... the sleeping giant has awoken.
Such are the events that launch "Guardian", a heavily dramatic track that accompanies the player's prolonged fight with the huge StoneTitan. With a classic bass opening and some upward and downward chasing melodies forming the upper register, and a mixture of percussion for extra effect, there is no mistaking the sense of terror this track seeks to convey. It gets repetitive, but serves only for a limited period of time and as such does the job well. Run! Run for your life!

EverSmoke "Bluff Eversmoking" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Bluff Eversmoking

With the return to the surface of the Nali planet, a more down to earth track heralds the arrival at one of the world's largest and most complex environments. The rhythmic, synthetic opening to song section 0 begins a pattern of backing that continues throughout the section, and is joined shortly by a tension overture in a higher synthetic voice. This synthetic voice plays the melody throughout the rest of the track, accented by brief sounds of wind instruments giving the sense of being on some kind of prolonged quest for a goal, which the player essentially is, as he must find a way to access this night time mountain lake monastery's bell tower. The fact that the tune never lets up keeps the player moving... until he reaches the underground dungeon areas...
Entering an underground passage, the theme tune is suddenly interrupted by a halting tension couplet where the bass answers the treble, that then gives way to the high drama of song section 1 with heavier bass and minor chords joined by percussion and string reels and downward swooping violins - conventional concepts pulled off to great effect to complete this impressive odyssey of a track.

Newmca7 "Unreal #7" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Dasa Mountain Pass, Cellars at Dasa Pass

An unassuming, single voice intro is about to lead into one of Unreal's darkest music tracks. The simple series of broken minor chords on a synthetic violin voice sets the scene for the deep bass twang that follows as song section 0 begins. After a quiet moment, a more regular rhythm appears and is accompanied by a prominent, slightly unnerving theme on the violins in the upper registers. It's not a very mobile track, keeping within certain limits, but it has a sense of progress, and while it doesn't translate to its home scenes of the dark Dasa pass all that dramatically, it has been used very well in custom maps such as Tower of Shrakith'a.
Deep within the Dasa cellars, the player finds himself ambushed by hordes of Krall guards and this is where song section 1 comes in. In keeping with the opening of song section 0, it begins with a heavy bass note, but then a fast rhythm fades in and a vibrating version of the violins plays an erratic tension track in the upper registers to accompany the mass Krall slugfest. This is one of the more effective combat song sections in Unreal, true to form with the ambient section whilst keeping a style of its own. It's quite prolonged too, as are the combats.

WarGate "Wargate" by Alexander Brandon

Serpent Canyon, Nali Castle, DemonLord's Lair, Glathriel Village (RtNP)

"Wargate" is a slow, foreboding piece of music that accompanies a trio of very stylised levels in Unreal. Song section 0 also appears in the mission pack as the secondary theme to the Glathriel Village levels, but as a piece of music this three-segment masterpiece is far more suited to its role in the original game.
Song section 0 opens with a great sense of foreboding. Rustles of percussion, deep string bass and quiet chanting vocalisation open a resonant, sinister tale of despair at the hands of the Skaarj in these ancient places; a winding boat ride through a watery canyon; exploring a tall, shadowy castle; and, the entrance to a huge lava-filled underground "hell". As the song continues, a bit of slowly thudding base gives the track a sense of rhythm.
As the player's boat ride leads him on towards his inevitable goal, he enters a cave. As he passes through this torch lit underground, the slow foreboding of song section 0 is replaced by the up-tempo journey of song section 2. A plucked string backing with some higher synthetic string melodies and more rustling percussion is a very characteristic sound that guides the player out of the cave, to the dock and beneath the turning blades of a windmill beneath the plum-coloured sky. Thanks to a bug in the tracker, it plays at either of two different tempos and I am not sure which is correct, but either way is cool.
The tension must reach a climax in the Nali castle when the player must face the five-eyed Giant Gasbag in the tower. Cue song section 1, a percussion-based tension track with a few of the voices from the other section providing harmonies for consistency. Repetitive but effective for its task. Also affected by the tempo bug.

WarLord "Warlord Theme" by unknown

DemonLord's Lair, Skaarj Generator

As if the tension of "Wargate" wasn't enough, the player must now face the great winged Warlord in its underground hell-like cavern. And so enter this dramatic piece, which differs from the other Unreal music because of its raw orchestral power. A rapid repeating bass backs the majority of the track, with a variety of tension reels playing in the upper registers and the occasional additional heavy sound. As the song reaches its climax, the bass stops repeating and plays a series of dramatic quadruplets that eventually loop the track back to its starting section. This piece of music is reprised when the player faces the Warlord again in the depths of the Skaarj mothership.

Crater "Hub 7" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Demon Crater

Something momentous is going to happen... it's clear... but for now, there's an eerie quiet as the player enters a darkened storage facility. The power is off and the player must explore this darkened place to the accompaniment of song section 0 of this interesting track. The music opens with a very slow, quiet upper register tune that gains a few snare drums and tension quintuplets along the way until a brief moment of increased tension with a bit of bass cutting in. But the overall feel is of quiet and creeping around. So expect a surprise when upon setting off an alarm and powering up the facility, song section 1 rushes in with fury and a sudden increase in volume. Skaarj begin pouring out of a newly opened door to the accompaniment of a repeating bass motif and upper register tension from synthetic strings. Other elements fade in and out to complete this resounding action piece in contrast to the ambient section.
The curious addition to this track is the unused song section 2, a slow tension track with some strange, arcane-sounding melodies that would seem more suited to a crypt than a level of this kind. This strange piece does not loop; it instead becomes song section 0 after one iteration.

Unreal4 "Erosion" by Alexander Brandon

MotherShip Lab, MotherShip Core, Skaarj Generator, The Darkening

For an environment as barren as the Skaarj mothership, it was necessary to include an imaginative track that could help make the location seem truly alien, and not to use the generic hardcore mess so typical to levels of this kind in games such as Quake II. Enter "Erosion" by Alexander Brandon. Song section 0, the main ambient song, is a trippy, floating exploration of alien imagination with creepy, synthetic voices and synthesised bass and melodies. It starts off with little real structure but a haunting, ethereal sound, but eventually gets a rhythm and melody that plays out a very pleasing tune for a little while. As the track dies away, the tune "erodes", losing structure bit by bit until it returns to the floaty opening voices and the rhythm fades away completely. Such a distinctive track is not to be missed.
For the moments of higher action, the track concedes to sci-fi gaming conventions and in comes a fast tension track which uses the existing voices to good complementary effect. Repetitive and annoying after a while, but it keeps the movement going through the longer combats such as the SkaarjLords at the Skaarj generator.
Finally, for moments when the player is ambushed or has a tricky fight in the dark, enter the short but dramatic song section 2. A tension reel bursts into a super-fast bass pattern that after a few seconds leads automatically into song section 1. Very cool, and overall a classic piece of Unreal composition.

EndEx "Extreme END" by unknown

The Source Antechamber, Escape from Na Pali (RtNP)

For the ending moments of the standard mothership levels, before the level in which the player confronts the Queen, it was deemed necessary to create a short interlude theme to accompany a short interlude map.
The track opens with a slow, dreamy, synthesized overture (song section 0) that with a stardust effect then leads into a short, repeating synthesized motion track (song section 1) as the player tumbles down a shaft towards his confrontation with the Queen. An unused song section 2 is also included, a short overture that links back to section 0 - it's only one pattern long and cuts off abruptly, so is a little pointless.
EndEx was never meant to be heard for very long, and so is a curious choice for the final combat of the mission pack as the secondary theme for the closing level - in that old Nali fortress it's completely out of place.

QueenSong "Queen of Death" by Alexander Brandon and Michiel Van Den Bos

The Source

Deep within the bowels of the Skaarj mothership, the player passes through a huge black void as he heads for his confrontation with the mother of all reptiles. A fitting backdrop comes from song section 0 of this track; a slow, lofty synthesized sound of vocals, strings and strange effects that makes the void seem truly like some kind of huge cathedral. And as he heads towards the final fight, a great iris door opens before him. The adventure is approaching its inevitable finale.
With a scream, the Queen leaps out into her arena of death and so commences song section 2. The whacked-out culmination of all the tension reels imaginable with a strong bass rhythm to keep the adrenalin up through this final combat with the Queen of the Skaarj. Fast, furious and resonant with crashes of drums, this is truly an excellent final combat theme that makes all the game so far a worthwhile exploration.
Given the simplicity of the level for which the track is designed, the inclusion of the unused song section 1 is a curious addition. A very good section that embodies an intermediate level of tension, with a strong bass beat and percussion for a sense of movement and the odd vocal flourish, this section feels like it ought to have been used for something, there's just no way of telling what it was intended for.

Utend "Unreal - Main Title" by Alexander Brandon and Michiel Van Den Bos

Ending Sequence

And so the Queen has fallen, as is signified by the soothing first chord of this track. But tension mounts as the Skaarj escape pod powers up for departure, then rhythm kicks in as it leaves the docking and flies up through the escape chute from the huge Skaarj mothership. As it breaks free and soars up into the sky and then into space, a triumphant synthesised melody pumps out on top of the bass.
So the saga is told, but as the escape pod breaks free of the atmosphere its fuel is depleted and it drifts amid an asteroid belt. The tune takes on the tone of a journey incomplete as the realisation dawns, then a sadder tone as the story is left "to be continued". What is to happen to our hero now? And so, the tune carries on for a couple more minutes of pure flourish and power as the player is left wondering, when he realises that his misadventure is finally at its end...
What will the future hold?

Newmca13 "Unreal #13" by Michiel Van Den Bos


Hold on... haven't we been here before?
Yes, song section 0 is exactly the same as song section 0 of EverSmoke. It'll bring back memories of that wonderful level Bluff Eversmoking, with its rhythmic backing and odyssean melodies. But that's not what this track is here for. Song section 1 is where this track differs. And, Newmca13 probably has the original song section 1 before the requirements for the second sequence of the Bluff Eversmoking music became apparent. Newmca13's song section 1 is something quite different. It has a rhythmic backing very similar to that of song section 0, with the addition of an extra synthetic lead sound. Meanwhile you get a bunch of extra percussion and a repeating tense triplet theme played in the upper registers. A good sequence perhaps for a prolonged battle with a Titan or similar creature, but of course Bluff Eversmoking has no Titans.
Perhaps an interesting curiosity, but of little practical use.

Newmca16 "Unreal #16" by Michiel Van Den Bos


As a final unused track (I shan't list Opal here because it was used in the mission pack), we have the distinctive refrain of Newmca16. Used in such custom maps as Tashara's Cove and New Alcatraz, the track starts with a quiet backing motif that is repeated in various keys along with a high register melody that is somewhere between sadness and tension, it soon gains a more solid bass part and a greater complexity in the upper registers with multiple voices to an overall very pleasing effect. Like many others, this track has the feel of a storytelling scene, which gives it a great deal of depth.

Title "Return to Na Pali" by unknown

RtNP Intro 1

A warm, drawn-out chord followed by some slow melodies brings the player back to the asteroid belt where his escape pod lies adrift. With a flourish, the music intensifies as the pod emerges from behind a boulder. A military beat cuts in as the player sees the hulking UMS Bodega Bay converging on the small craft and extra voices symbolise the pod being tractored into the hold. The player has been rescued... but as the drama of the music signifies, the military are planning to send the player on a mission to the planet's surface. As the communication closes, the track adopts a more harmonic stance.
This is where we leave the intro, but the music has some way to go in it yet. A series of harmonies and choruses of sounds bring the song to its intense climax with yet another flourish and the listener is left hanging on the sinister closing note. This is a great track to ring in the new mission pack storyline, and it's a shame that in-game we don't get to hear its whole duration.

Return "Interlude II" by unknown

RtNP Intro 2

A dreamy, floating chorus accompanies the player through flashbacks of NyLeve's Falls, Harobed Village and the Nali Castle. As we zoom in on the Nali of the castle, the dreamy chorus fades out and we are presented with a rather naff bass and synth beat. Fortunately, the intro leaves it here. Because after the beat cuts in, the music plays a reasonable verse, but soon cuts into a truly naff major key chorus that is completely out of character. And this track goes on alternating between the two for some time. The less said about it the better :).

Inter "Intermission" by unknown

RtNP log entry intermissions

This intermission piece is a very short looping interlude of vibes and chorus with occasional gong clashes signifying a change in key. Because it's so short, there's not a lot to be said about it - but it serves the task well enough of providing musical backing for the intermissions between levels in the pack where the player records his spoken log entries and the game displays its kill stats.

Twilight "Twilight Horizon" by Alexander Brandon

Edge of Na Pali

As the military shuttle drops you off in a landing bay in a mining bunker, and you emerge into the familiar sunlit plateaux and valleys of the Nali planet, what better an accompaniment than "Twilight Horizon", a remix of the original piece "Dusk Horizon" heard in Unreal's first outdoor levels. Song section 0 is like that of the original, but the bass backing has been given a greater twang and the melody has gained extra depth by the use of a new, magical sounding voice and some extra percussion. Its majestic intonations are familiar but different enough from the original to be interesting, and the piece goes well with both the action and the combat.
As the player explores one of the underground bunkers and is attacked by a gigantic Behemoth, in comes song section 2 which as far as I can tell is the same as song section 1 of the original, with its electric, high-speed beat and loud volume. What is more interesting is song section 1, an interlude which plays after the Behemoth is defeated. It combines the strong bass of song section 2 with plenty of extra percussion and some tension reels in the upper register to create a sort of "extra tune" that ends on a powerful fading note before the piece reverts to the ambience of song section 0 (which happens automatically after the interlude is completed). As if that wasn't enough, the unused three-pattern interlude of song section 3 is included, which links automatically back to song section 1 as mentioned above.
A good opening track to the gameplay.

Neve "Neve's Crossing" by Alexander Brandon

Neve's Crossing

The player leaves the mining bunkers and comes upon an old Nali bridge crossing a small valley. The bright evening sun lights the grassy footpaths and watery lakes for an enchanting evening scene. Appropriately, this scene is accompanied by the upbeat sound of this bold piece of music. With a slow, twinkly opening quickly followed by some strong synthesised notes, the piece evolves into a bouncy track with a strong bass and percussion that doodles around for some time before eventually settling on a short strident melody played on the synthesised voice heard briefly at the start.
The movement of this appealing piece sweeps the player along with the pace of the level and ties the action together. While it has no action section of its own, it does not need one, because the track encompasses the ambience and action all together so effectively on its own.

Starseek "Star Seeker" by unknown

Approaching UMS Prometheus

The timeframe of this piece is some levels later than Neve (older Unreal music has been used in the mean time). It has since got dark, and the player emerges from a cave into a small plateau with a view down into a huge valley where the unfortunate UMS Prometheus has crashed and broken up.
Considering it's a night-time scene, the positive percussion which accompanies this also upbeat work comes as something of a surprise. The percussion is shortly joined by a couple of bass voices, which play a simple melody of their own for a while. Then, a powerful synthetic foreground melody plays in the upper registers for a while before the piece loops back to the start. Overall, a complete and effective piece suitable for the accompaniment of its short level.

Moroset "Morose" by Michiel Van Den Bos

UMS Prometheus

The player descends a chasm and comes upon the hulk of the crashed UMS Prometheus. The night grows dark in this expanse lit only by the moon and the lights of the downed ship, and an aura of tension descends as the ship looms high above. Such is the scene for song section 0 of this double-barrelled track, a quiet piece of music which none the less manages a strong military beat for backing. At the start, it's just this military beat played on a selection of quiet synthetic voices and percussion, a sound which is then joined by a staccato piece played on a gentle upper register voice that lasts out the rest of the section alternating with a slow synthetic strings theme. The overall effect is a slightly nervous atmosphere, an effective backdrop to the downed ship, which is overrun by alien Mercenaries.
The track also includes a higher tension segment. Song section 1 brings the military rhythm right to the foreground with the upper register taking a back seat and just providing the occasional tension compliment. Extra percussion makes this section good for a prolonged fight which never happens.

Opal "ALF" by unknown

UMS Prometheus

This curious, quiet ambient piece is used to silence the scene in the depths of the UMS Prometheus' crew berths. A slow piece that was actually included in Unreal but never used sounds like a predecessor of Vortex. Ambient sounds provide the majority of the backing, with the occasional extra tension sound and a short, dramatic reel at the end before it loops back to the beginning.
The piece is very short and has no real movement. Quite what it was intended for is uncertain but it is somewhat spurious when used in the mission pack.

SpaceMarines "Dirt" by Khyron

Inside UMS Prometheus

It's been quiet for some time in the bowels of the crashed Terran ship. But now, as the player reaches the bridge and activates the transmitter, space marines beam down from the UMS Bodega Bay to terminate him, for he is now considered a security risk. Cue "Dirt", a distortion guitar riff by a third party musician.
The piece has a strong sense of tension and combat throughout that punctuates the prolonged and challenging battle with the elite Terran marines, using a variety of rhythmic structures and accenting voices, but is out of character with the rest of the music for the game. However, there's no mistaking the danger conveyed by this piece of music and it goes well with the high-adrenalin sequence it accompanies.

Sacred "Nagomi Passage (Night)" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Nagomi Passage (Night)

After fleeing the UMS Prometheus and traversing the spire valley, the player arrives at a once sacred tract of land that is now the fringes of a huge Skaarj mining facility. But the access to the mining facility remains locked and the player must first navigate his way to the entrance of a derelict temple.
Song section 0 of this slow, night-time track is used to accompany this scene. The mystical vibes and synthetic strings open the piece on a dramatic note; the strings then play a very high melody reminiscent of Newmca16 to the accompaniment of a strumming bass played on standard synthetic bass mixed with the familiar plucked string voice. It's a sad and sinister piece of music that accompanies the dark setting very well, and other voices such as a kind of synthetic wind and that mystical vibraphone accent the dramatic moments.
Like Moroset, the track also includes an unused tension sequence. This looping tension piece has a regular thumping bass pattern accompanied by tension reels in the synthetic vibes and high strings to create another effective but not overwhelming tension track which would also be great for a prolonged battle that never happened (this sequence is used near the end of my Tashara's Cove map pack).

Journey "Nagomi Passage (Day)" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Nagomi Passage (Day)

After a visit to the dark confines of the derelict temple, the player returns to the fringes of the Skaarj mining base and finds that dawn has broken. Immediately this piece of music backs the scene with wind, drums and Nali tom-toms that are soon joined by high synthetic backing and enthusiastic pan pipes that make a thrilling odyssey of a piece of music that really stretches for the skies. Albeit with quieter moments, this is a storming, dramatic piece of music played in an ancient style, with an end result that is truly original and unique among the Unreal repertoire.
Among the music from the mission pack, this track is not to be missed.

Found99 "Foundry" by Alexander Brandon

Foundry Tarydium Plant

The player finally penetrates the Skaarj mining facility. As he enters the grey stone, concrete and metal installation, the much more down to earth and muted sounds of "Foundry" song section 0 are the accompaniment. For this is a huge facility and traversing it is going to prove a real endurance test. Accordingly, the song consists of a gentle, looping rhythm and a floating synthetic melody. The track does little exciting, it just creates an atmosphere of endurance and exploration to accompany the scenario. Short, but effective enough.
Like many tracks though, this song includes an unused song section 1. But unlike many such sections, this one does not loop. Ultimately, it returns to song section 0. A strong, fast piece contrasting to song section 0 that would be good for an ambush by a large creature, there's a period of just the backing rhythm for a few seconds, but this is soon joined by a strong synthetic voice which plays a strident melody which eventually dies, leaving the track to revert to song section 0. It would have been cool, if the designers had used it.

Boundary "Bounds of Foundry" by Alexander Brandon

Bounds of Foundry

As the scene transfers to a waste disposal area of the huge sprawling facility, the player's adventures are accompanied by the journey-esque refrains of song section 0 of this motive track. With a simple but pleasing rhythmic bass backing and a plucked quadruplet-based theme tune alternating with more drawn out synthetic melodies, the section keeps the player in the mood for progress and exploration albeit in an upbeat way.
But song section 0 does not loop, instead it fades out and is replaced by song section 1, a much faster and less sedate action track based on fast percussion and a robotic claxon foreground voice. It's powerful and makes for a good fighting theme, but becomes tedious when you've listened to it for a prolonged while - which is why the level messes around with the music so much, occasionally resetting the ambience to song section 0 or silencing the music completely.

Watcher "Watcher of the Skies" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Watcher of the Skies

The player emerges on to a freezing, ice-clad misty mountain plateau. Here, he must blast his way through a variety of enemies including StoneTitans to proceed on his quest to escape from the planet. Cue "Watcher of the Skies", a resounding, dramatic piece of work that draws its strength from a deep metallic clanging bass and synthetic chorus verse which, combined with a series of familiar Unreal tension reels, really keeps the mighty atmosphere of the level going throughout the combats that follow.
High drama as the mission pack approaches its conclusion.

Gala "Gala's Peak" by Alexander Brandon

Gala's Peak

An icy cave passage leads out to a causeway in a huge abyss up to a bluff on which stands a mysterious Nali building. Cue the majestic tones of "Gala's Peak" song section 0. Commenced by a dramatic, chanting vocalisation, the piece has a slow opening with some high crystal sounds that gives way to an exciting beat and bold synthetic melody. After more drama and crystal effects, there's a moment where the piece falls quiet and fades away to almost nothing. Then, with a flourish, there's a resurgence of the slow strings theme and then the dramatic beat and some heavy bass drums. This answering call to the earlier parts of the melody keep the player advancing, then the track returns to near the beginning.
After power has been transferred to a huge teleporter that will provide the player's exit, and all that is left to do is run, we get to song section 1, a similarly dramatic tension track with the characteristic strong bass and some new synthetic voices accenting a simple drama tune complete the picture of a great track.

Mountain "Mountain Fortress" by Michiel Van Den Bos

Escape from Na Pali

Song section 0 of this track is a classic horror-story style piece of music that accompanies the final level of the mission pack. A screeching wind leads into a slow organ movement, and then in comes a quiet beat similar to that of Spire song section 1. The rest of the piece doodles with a tenser version of this beat and a high synthetic strings melody in a minor key that cements a now familiar "odyssey" style of music used to accompany Unreal's longer levels. With quiet moments and louder moments, it's quite an effective piece of music that sums up the final level of the mission pack well.
And for the final entry into the list of unused segments, we have song section 1; a higher tension piece similar to song section 0 but with the melody consisting mainly of more broken up tension reels and with a bit more strength to the backing beat. One does wonder why the designers didn't use this really very good sequence for the final combat instead of the terribly inappropriate Unreal track EndEx.

Ending "Escape from Na Pali" by unknown

RtNP Ending Sequence

A quiet opening commences the mission pack's extro sequence as the camera views a few angles on the final level, then the shuttle prepping for take-off. The music intensifies with a pleasing deep bass as the shuttle leaves the ground and lifts off into orbit. Then, the main repeating sequence ensues as the UMS Bodega Bay challenges the shuttle. There's an exchange of missiles and the Bodega Bay is destroyed, leaving our hero to fly off "into the sunset" and the credits to roll. The main repeating section is actually fairly unimpressive and there's not much to say about it. It fits with the rolling credits well enough, but there's no way it can really hold a candle to the superb, triumphant then sad ending music to the original game... but I don't suppose that a lot of tracks could.

So there you go... it seems that almost every Unreal track has some cool feature about it, and this feature has hopefully given you an appreciation of some of the masterful work and care and attention to detail that has gone in to some of those tracks. Scrag out.