(Dwarf Fortress image via Stuart’s Gaming blog).
The Roguelike video game genre puts the player in a procedurally generated (random) set of interlinked dungeons that she explores with trepidation because every conflict with its denizens could be the last. Death is permanent in these lands, so the stakes are high: defeat means the total obliteration not only of the player, but of the universe that she has generated with her progress through the dungeons, like a sword and sorcery version of the bookish wanderings across Borges’ Library of Babel.
This is a journey through surprising landscapes, conjured out of the complex interplay between our decisions, the imagination of the human authors, and their technology. We could also call it Frontierslike, a trip through the procedural wonder labyrinth.
Which is precisely what Steve Gunn + Mike Cooper’s Pena Panorama is: a sonic ramble up abrupt mountains and down primeval valleys, in a party of companionable psychedelia, its rhythms are the drone in the muscles and the weight in the bones telling us that we’ll be tired tonight, and satisfied too.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, a guitar melody describes the vector of our progress, a steel guitar raga the interval of uncertainty around it, alternative branches opening up new provinces of space and seasons of time and weather. Out of chaos and randomness we build order, map the eternal frontier, under a sky luminous with the portent of the revelation waiting past the summit of the hill ahead, always past the summit of the hill ahead.
Pena Panorama is included in the frankly astounding ‘Cantos de Lisboa’ FRKWYS collaboration between Steve Gunn and Mike Cooper which RVNG released not long ago. As usual, you can get some actually informative documentation about the release from the wonderful, loving source.