Back In Time 3

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Back In Time³
A Space Odyssey
Back In Time³ album cover.
Studio album by Jogeir Liljedahl, Steve Scherer, Rob Hubbard, Carsten "O2" Ohlsen, Darren Izzard, Chris Abbott, Alistair 'Boz' Bowness, Fabian Del Priore, Marcel Donne, Ben Daglish, iRiDiUm64 and Mike Andrews
Year Published 2001
Genre Game
Length 78:37
Producer Chris Abbott
Catalogue No. C64CD3

Back In Time³ was a collaborative album co-ordinated by Chris Abbott (trading as High Technology Publishing Ltd) and published in 1999. The album was a sequel to "Back In Time" and "Back In Time II", and consisted of studio versions of Commodore 64 game soundtracks, which, in certain instances, were arranged and performed by the original composers.

Back in Time 3 was never meant to be a space album originally. In fact, most of the tracks that were created initially for Back in Time 3 never made it. During production, it became clear that there were far too many tracks and plans to fit comfortably onto one CD. So a decision was made to just use space tracks and to make it a concept album, since that's the way many of the tracks were going. There were going to be three other CDs to hold the other tracks: Back in time 4 (Fantasy symphonic), Back in time 5 (Oriental), and Back in Time 6 (finishing off the story created by BIT 4 and 5). These of course never happened, leaving tracks such as Rob Hubbard's own orchestral version of Kentilla (first done in 1999) out.

The story of Back in Time 3 is also the story of Back in Time Live, since Back in Time Live was created to be a launch party for Back in Time 3: kind of ironic launching a 70s album during an 80s revival, and launching an symphonically oriented CD in a huge nightclub where dance music was the order of the day.

Back in Time 3 was an immense effort which brought the best out of everyone involved, from Arvid Weber (who created the first concept version of the cover using an unfortunately copyrighted space ship and produced the amazing internal artwork, to Mat Recardo (responsible for the final finished spaceship, which was also a T-shirt and a poster), to Steve Barrett who produced the story artwork and also a series of little videos for the trailer (this was in 2001, the video was hugely impressive at the time, especially since it was all done in Bryce).

In music terms, Ben Daglish sat down at the keyboard in 1999 and played most of the first half of Trap in one sitting. After it had been orchestrally rendered, Ben listened to the piece and added ideas that should have been there: the most striking being the violin sweeps from Mark "madfiddler" Knight at the end of the tune. Mark also provided the lovely violin solo during the Orchestral "Zoids", but didn't have time to rehearse and perform the other difficult violin tracks.

Agent X 2 was something Jogeir did because he loved the tune, and you can tell he did. Originally it was a Tim Forsythe version of the tune that I had loved, but Jogeir and Jan-Henrik Bang did a "bang-up" job of creating a hi-res version.

WAR was created in a studio in San Francisco in mid 2000 from an Orchestral sketch Rob Hubbard did on paper in 1987: WAR was always one of his favourite tunes, and one he was very keen to see orchestralised. It was also a piece which came alive in the mastering suite at SRT in Cambridge. Steve Scherer was the owner of the studio and collaborator with Rob during his time at EA.

O2's Zoids was originally an RKO release (and in fact, still is), but I got hold of the Cubase file and did a re-recording because it fitted so well. This was also later used in Crystal Dreamscapes.

Shadowfire was the most difficult piece to do, and possibly the least successful, though it is very spirited. It went through nine versions!

Armalyte had so many collaborators because it went through three different phases: the original phase by Fabian Del Priore needed some bite for the story, so then Puffy64 went off and created a Guitars and Organ version. And since I wanted it to sound 3D, I added a complete layer behind the tune including replications of Walker's Wibbles. Once they were all mixed together they sounded great: really like dangerous Asteroids hitting the ship.

Phantoms of the Asteroids intro was improvised in one go, and the main tune was mostly Supernova based. It gained a lot from MIDI files and track snippets given to me by Marcel Donne, who also contributed all the linking segments. He didn't know they were linking segments when he gave them to me, though ;-)

Parallax Stroll was the last piece on the album, and was never planned to be there. Originally its place was taken by Jogeir Lilhjedahl's "Game Over" which was a revised version held over from Back in Time 2. It didn't fit, so myself and Jason "Kenz" Mackenzie spent a day creating another version of Game Over (this is credited to Kenz on remix.kwed.org) which while it sounded great, also didn't work (and was too long). Thankfully Alistair "Boz" Bowness was on hand to help with Parallax Stroll, a beautiful and fitting tune which took a few goes to get right too (first version was too bounce).

The next three tunes: Zoids, Flash Gordon and One Man and his Droid are three of the tunes I'm most proud of, but they were also collaborations at heart. Flash Gordon was build on an earlier Flash Gordon by Marcel Donne and then replaced bit-by-bit with the orchestral rendition you hear, and Zoids went through five versions with Boz and Kenz helping out. One Man and his Droid was another piece that Marcel Donne contributed some "Jarre bits" to, which really lifted the piece into something I still think is exactly what Rob meant to do. I'm most proud of Flash Gordon, though, as a musician, since it was hard to do, and I really needed to study, think and plan to do it, as I did with Trap (build on Ben Daglish's original work).

Last V8 was a great track from Fabian Del Priore, again lifted by various Jarre-stuff contributed by Marcel Donne.

Delta in-game was pretty straightforward, by contrast, but is notable for a real-SID recording of the SID ringmod arpeggio running right the way through.

Wizball High Score is a Tonka track that had existed for ages, but came about because of the need for a party feel at the end of the album. It was never finished, so we just released the version we had (there was never a high definition master for this). The "Filth Raid" whisper in the middle of the song was never meant to be a whisper: Jason Mackenzie recorded numerous versions of this phrase as "shouty man", and only put the whispered version at the end as a joke. Of course, that's the one that was used: an inspired choice.

Zodis came about simply because Mike Andrews sent me the track out of the blue at exactly the right time, and the guitar solos made my hair stand on end. Amazing stuff, though more than one person has said it sounds like an Ice Cream Van.

Although I had more fun on Karma 64 (lunches with Boz) and expressed myself more creatively with Crystal Dreamscapes (a homage to my infant kids as much as anything), this is the work I'm most proud of: and being part of a big (often overlooked) team made it just ten times better than I could have done on my own. Everyone did good.

Back in Time 3 came with a sumptuous CD-ROM produced with love by Jason "Kenz" Mackenzie with offcut tracks, animations, stories, and packed with more content than an Infocom box. We will never see those days again, alas.
- Chris Abbott


Track Listing

  1. Jogeir Liljedahl (Guitars by Jan-Henrik Bang) : "Agent X 2" - The Launch - (3:14)
    (Tim Follin)
  2. Steve Scherer and Rob Hubbard : "War" - First Steps Into The Cosmos - (5:56)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  3. Carsten "O2" Ohlsen : "Ancestors" - Zoids Planet Flyby - (5:53)
    (Larry Fast/Synergy)
    "Zoids" is based on the Rob Hubbard rework of "Ancestors" by Larry Fast/Synergy from the album "Audion".
  4. Darren Izzard, Chris Abbott & Alistair 'Boz' Bowness : "Shadowfire" - Hyperspace - (2:26)
    (Fred Gray)
  5. Fabian Del Priore & Chris Abbott (Guitar and Drums by Phil "Puff64" Riefke) : "Armalyte" - Asteroid Storm - (2:23)
    (Martin Walker)
  6. Chris Abbott & Marcel Donne : "Phantoms Of The Asteroids" - The Chase - (5:27)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  7. Chris Abbott & Alistair 'Boz' Bowness : "Parallax Stroll" - The Nebula - (2:32)
    (Martin Galway)
  8. Chris Abbott & Alistair 'Boz' Bowness : "Ancestors" - Zoids Desert Battle - (5:08)
    (Larry Fast/Synergy)
    "Zoids" is based on the Rob Hubbard rework of "Ancestors" by Larry Fast/Synergy from the album "Audion".
  9. Chris Abbott, Marcel Donne & Alistair 'Boz' Bowness : "Flash Gordon" - The City Escape - (6:45)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  10. Chris Abbott & Marcel Donne : "One Man And His Droid" - Canyon Chase - (6:17)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  11. Fabian Del Priore : "The Last V8" - Race Against Time - (3:21)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  12. Chris Abbott & Alistair 'Boz' Bowness : "Delta In-Game" - The Voyage Home - (11:51)
    (Rob Hubbard)
  13. Ben Daglish & Chris Abbott : "Trap" - Battle For The Planet Part 1 - (3:32)
    (Ben Daglish)
  14. Chris Abbott : "Eve Of The War" - Facing The Aliens - (0:19)
    (Jeff Wayne)
  15. Ben Daglish & Chris Abbott : "Trap" - Battle For The Planet Part 2 - (5:44)
    (Ben Daglish)
  16. iRiDiUm64 (Vocals by Jason 'Kenz' Mackenzie 'n frenz & Martin Galway) : "Wizball High Score" - The Celebrations - (3:42)
    (Martin Galway)
  17. Mike Andrews : "Ancestors" - End Credits - (4:07)
    (Larry Fast/Synergy)
    "Zoids" is based on the Rob Hubbard rework of "Ancestors" by Larry Fast/Synergy from the album "Audion".

External Links