Music for space pirates
June 19, 2020 1:25 PM   Subscribe

What music would be good in the background for a space heist RPG?

I'm running an RPG tomorrow with a lighthearted scif-fi heist/piracy theme; think Firefly/Solo, not Alien.

Can you suggest some background music that would work well for us? Preferably minimal if any lyrics, and bonus points if I can stream it from somewhere online.

posted by metaBugs to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
So, this is really weird, but there was a fly-around space game in the late 90’s called Subspace, and you know what my friends liked to play as background music?


(I don’t know which album.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:29 PM on June 19, 2020

You might find something tasty within the works of The Dread Crew of Oddwood and/or the venerable Abney Park. (Caveat: Lots of vocals.)

Some deeper (and more instrumental) cuts: Ozric Tentacles, or Hawkwind. Perhaps prog-rock in general would be a fruitful place to search.

On the third hand, go hard retro.
posted by sourcequench at 1:43 PM on June 19, 2020

Something from Tabletop Audio's scifi section?
posted by zamboni at 1:43 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Try Dvorak's New World Symphony, the last two movements. There's some really tuneful stuff in there and it's been used as background for lots of swashbuckling comedy settings.
posted by angiep at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2020

You might find something in this Space Princess playlist on Spotify.
posted by wintersweet at 2:01 PM on June 19, 2020

This depends on your worldbuilding; you mention Firefly. Firefly had lots of Chinese and other pan-asian influences in it because of the history of that story.

How did ethnicities spread in your world? Use those ethnicities as an excuse to dig into the broadness of their music. Find some indian metal or some latin psychedelic rock.

I would look for psychedelic recordings from other ethnic and language groups from my own, because those tend to have a spacey future vibe to them. Labels like Numero Group and Sublime Freqencies might have some stuff for you. Blogs like Awesome tapes fro Africa might be a resource.

There's also a genre well represented on youtube called Sovietwave, which may fit.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:02 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Kiasmos - Kiasmos is a gem of an album in the niche of Icelandic minimal techno... spacey but not in a floaty way, with a classical influence that feels quite film-score like. And a definite beginning / middle / end feel between tracks 1-3, 4-6 and 7-8. So much so that you might want to save the last 2 tracks for climax rather than ambient play music.
posted by protorp at 2:04 PM on June 19, 2020

This fails the "minimal if any lyrics" test but when I think space pirates I think Deltron 3030

There is an instrumental version of the album available, but it may end up sounding overly "epic" relative to your theme.
posted by bbuda at 2:21 PM on June 19, 2020

This is 100% a mission for Jean-Michel Jarre. For instance, try Equinoxe Infinity or Oxygene Pt. 4. And, oh my god, I almost forgot Waiting for Cousteau. Waiting for Cousteau! It is deeply weird retro-futuristic electronica calypso with robot noises! Perfect for any weird space canteen taverns on your itinerary.

In conclusion: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE
posted by ourobouros at 2:51 PM on June 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

The soundtrack to the videogame Bastion might be suitable (it's quite reminiscent of Firefly), if you make sure to exclude the few narrative tracks.
posted by Lexica at 2:52 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

In conclusion: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE

I thought path was a touch cinematic for what the OP was asking for, but if ouroboros is going to crack the door open to to JMJ-Town and that works, OP might want to try Tangerine Dream, Steve Tibbets (specifically YR).

I would also possibly look into a couple of instrumental bands that Daptone has put out. Budos Band and the Menahan Street Band. I could see both of these working in certain sci-fi concepts, not unlike parts of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2020

You should also grab some sound effects to mix in with the music. For example, did you know there are loops of spaceship engine noises on Youtube?
posted by lollusc at 4:36 PM on June 19, 2020

Maybe Stellardrone-Light Years.
posted by smcameron at 4:47 PM on June 19, 2020

It Came From the 80s: A Retro Darkwave Horror Synth Special. One of the YT comments describes it as Daft Punk meets John Carpenter.
posted by Paragon at 7:42 PM on June 19, 2020

Really, you have to try some Two Steps From Hell (link to their YouTube channel). They're known for epic music, and even have a track called Molto Piratissimo.

Perhaps look into the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks as well.
posted by lhauser at 8:06 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Void Bastards soundtrack might be well-suited, since the game is about exploring wrecked spaceships, avoiding or fighting the monsters on board, stealing stuff, and narrowly escaping with your life and loot.
posted by EKStickland at 10:15 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Two totally opposing recommendations:

The Olympians

Stasis Sounds for Long-Distance Space Travel
posted by sleeping bear at 11:00 PM on June 19, 2020

I'd go for Massive Attack to get that gritty futuristic tense vibe.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 10:19 AM on June 20, 2020

I vote for opening the adventure with The Pogues Sea Shanty to get everyone in a swashbuckling wild adventure mood.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2020

I’m certain Lee Perry would be worth looking at.
posted by alaaarm at 5:22 PM on June 24, 2020

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