Half a year ago, musician Jim Guthrie shared the superbackstory to his music for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP with 1UP.com's Chiptuned Blog.

As with his second album "Morning Noon Night," the Apple iOS game makes use of the MTV Music Generator software, an innovative audio design tool released for the original Sony Playstation.

Though calling on gaming platforms has been part of the composer's artistic process since 2002, this recent foray into iPad gaming with I/O cinema visionary Craig D. Adams and Critter Crunch-makers Capybara Games marks Guthrie's debut as an indie game creator.

Music plays an integral role in helping to define the atmosphere of S:S&S EP's lushly pixelated outdoor environments. Sword & Sworcery LP - The Ballad of the Space Babies takes a different approach to the same soundscapes. We had the chance to hear from the composer on the subject of the album release associated with the independently developed game.

Your music for Superbrothers' "Dot Matrix Revolution" video previously made use of MTV Music Generator. How did this collaboration predating Sword and Sworcery come about?

Musician Jim Guthrie: Craig got in touch with me back in the day by sending me a postcard with this amazing art on it. Way back, I had a band to do my singer-songwriter stuff, and then I didn't have a band anymore, so I used this program to be my backing band. I was writing ambient and instrumental tracks, just letting my imagination go. I had this burn of like eight or nine instrumental songs that I sent Craig and he fell in love with it. He chose one of the songs to do this animation to.

We stayed in touch over the years. Then when this opportunity came up, he turned to me and said, "If I'm going to do the artwork for this game, then I really want for you to do the music." On the Sword & Sworcery soundtrack are three of the songs that I gave him on that CD burn a long time ago.

You mentioned back in July that Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP would make use of dynamic sound playback. An audio mosaic built up from stems would morph in tandem with the on-screen circumstances. How did this idea of an adaptive score wind up being implemented in the finished build?

That was an idea that we really liked and was in early builds. As the game got a lot bigger, things started to break all over the place when we added new stuff. We still sort of kind of did that in the game, but not to the extent where all these stems would be acting as a kind of flow chart, remixing the arrangement as you walk around.

What form of generative music is currently found in the game?

There's an instance of it after you finish the first quest and you have to go over to Side B to get the key that Logfella has lost. You're at the top of a mountain and the music that starts up there is the track "Under a Tree" on the LP. I exported trimmed down versions of three hunks of that really dense tune. They are randomized in the game, so you might get the same one twice.

Originally that song was the one we envisioned chopping up into a million little bits and then having be adaptive. If you stayed in one spot, the first eight bars would loop. Then if you moved, it would progress the song. However, it proved to break all the time. As the game got bigger, the ecosystem and the code got more complicated, along with the relationship between all of the assets. That crazy web that we tried to weave started breaking. Eventually we felt that as far as the impact of the music was concerned, less was more anyways.

For the outdoors atmosphere of the game, was it in the interest of the music to allow more breathing room between pieces?

It did seem that you wouldn't fully be able to appreciate what we had created without some space. The forest is a calm, quiet space, so I wanted to reflect that in the music. With the atmosphere of the sound design that we created, sometimes you just want nothing to be playing. You want to be able to hear the wind at some points.

Sword & Sworcery links up with social networking sites, and if you search for the "sworcery" hashtag on twitter, you often find the phrase "Tweet and ye shall be re-tweeted" being posted. Was encouraging players to post cryptic Sworcery-related messages seen as a way of spreading word of mouth in lieu of a marketing budget?

It was an experiment and wasn't thought of so much as a marketing thing. We don't make the game do that to your twitter feed, so it's nice to see that people voluntarily wanted to share their excitement about the writing and let people know that they're playing this cool new game. That the hashtag has gone beyond our group of friends is a victory for sure.

How did it come about that designer Cory Schmitz became involved in designing the art print associated with the vinyl edition of Ballad of the Space Babies?

Craig, who did all the art for the record, was a huge fan. We had this idea of getting someone who loved the game and loved the art to sketch out some ideas. Based on this cool, stark image he produced we've had a bunch of prints made up, which will be included with the vinyl as an extra treat.

What do you feel are the major benefits of offering a vinyl release alongside digital?

The game presents a digital world with an 8-bit aesthetic, so to throw vinyl into the mix got us all really excited. We weren't totally sure that it would make sense financially to press a thousand records. As things started to pick up steam, we made the decision to put the order in for the vinyl.

There's a lot of independent game development currently going on in Toronto. Do you have an idea of why the city would be so conducive to that activity?

People from all over converge there. Almost everyone I know moved to the city from smaller towns. I got into indie gaming through Craig, where previously I was an indie musician who loved games. Never did I think I'd have the opportunity to work on something so cool.

I'm a total newbie to the whole thing, but it's an amazing community. There's a lot of art and music.

Not only have you been collaborating with Craig D. Adams and Capybara on this game, but you also play in a band with Shaw-Han Liem, a Canadian musician and game composer.

Yeah, I've played in his I Am Robot and Proud shows. He plays keys in my Jim Guthrie solo stuff. We've known each other for ten years now. Sometimes people who make electronic music, you think of them as not being able to play an instrument or whatever, but it's not the case for Shaw-Han. He's an awesome guy who's great to get drunk with and he can play just about anything.

Which of the tracks found in the LP were created using the MTV Music Generator software years ago?

"Lone Star," "Under a Tree" and "Little Furnace." For "Lone Star," I played the drum beat on a four-track, burned that onto a CD, put the CD into the Playstation and sampled the beat. Once it's been sampled it softens certain frequencies while making other frequencies a little harsh. "Lone Star" is the first full tune you hear, after Logfella opens up this big, iron gate for you. He leads you up this mountain and the song kicks in there. "Little Furnace" appears in the epilogue.

"Under a Tree" was a rocky prog song I used to play with my band back in 1996 or 1997. As I got into computers and soft synths, I found I could realize the song with a different set of voices. I was holding onto it and not really having a home for the song until Craig heard it, fell in love with it and wanted it in the game. There's probably a live recording of that song floating around somewhere.

In the context of the artwork, which is both pixelated and evocative of a lifelike natural setting, it makes for an interesting complement. There's that mix of hi and lo-fidelity.

I think that's what subconsciously might have drawn us to each others' work. Craig's art is retro and 8-bit, but it has a modern edge to it. There's all these shadows, highlights and flares. You would never see that on an Atari. For the music, I'm mashing older technologies with soft synths in Garage Band. That produces a kind of hi-fi/low-fi.

What made you decide upon the name "Ballad of the Space Babies" for the LP?

"Ballad of the Space Babies" was a turning point in the development of the game. It sort gave a whole section of the game a soul that we didn't know was there. When we put Craig's art together with that tune it was magic.

These little sprites that you have to free became a big part of the puzzle aspect of the game. I did this track mostly on one of these cheap Cassio SK-1s that were big in the late '80s because they were like 200 bucks at Zellers or wherever. There's the sound of a space baby at the start of the song, like an ooo-ing sound. That's my voice that I sang into the SK-1, though it doesn't sound like me at all. It sounds girly and pretty or whatever.

On the SK-1, I'd sample notes on the piano and loop the sound. You can loop the lower octave half as fast as the higher octave, and if you do a major fifth you get a mathematically sound polyrhythm going on that also has a grainy, ghostly quality. I added some soft synths, so that one's a real buffet of hi and low-fi, different sample rates.

These songs start by noodling. I'm usually following something and I don't know what it is or where it's going. This game really worked well for me on this level because none of us knew what this game was or where it was going when we started. Craig had ideas, but for the longest time no one knew what the hell it was. We still don't know what it is. It's this beautiful thing that's kind of really mysterious to us. I think that aspect of the collaboration between Craig, me and Capy is what makes this game so special.

For more information on the music of Jim Guthrie, visit the artist's official website and Bandcamp page. Images courtesy of Capybara Games.