4 min read

Coral Games Redux

Coral Games Redux

Something about the song Coral Games has always reminded me about the ocean. More specifically, the edge of an ocean and the gentle relentlessness of small waves breaking on the shore. The ceaseless in-and-out of the central ascending/descending melody and its occasional fractal echoes feel a little tidal to me.

The original version of the song can be found on Telex From MIDI City. It is relatively short, but that is only because toward the end of writing the album I felt an edit was necessary to make it work in the context of sitting alongside the other songs. The standalone version of the Coral Games demo had been 6-7 minutes long, just doing the same thing over and over. I really enjoyed its repetitive nature. It was kind of hypnotising, calming.

So it had been on my mind to make a longer version since putting out the album, but whenever I sat down to try it, I found that I couldn't quite find a way to satisfy what I thought I actually wanted, which would have essentially been copy/pasting the exact same melodic phrase until it lasted for an hour. This desire for repetition clashed with my songwriting instincts that always lean toward linear, story-telling/narrative structures. I can very much enjoy listening to music that repeats endlessly without ever feeling that it should do anything else. But for whatever reason I need the music that I write to tick some other kind of box. WHAT A STRUGGLE.


During the summer of 2022 I was practising writing for an orchestra (an entirely aspirational project) and really got into woodwinds. Well, all the instruments really, but it was particularly nice getting a grip on woodwinds, a sound palette I'd never previously given much thought to in the context of composing. I went all in on an epic, orchestral version of Coral Games, which was fun, but it turned out that this is not an epic song demanding an orchestra, so it went nowhere.

Then a couple of weeks ago though I got jostled into action by the memento mori of realising Telex From MIDI City has already been out a whole year. I pulled together all my loose Coral Games audio files and, er, corralled them into something that worked. I also dumped them into a generative music system and made it infinite.

So today I am putting out two new versions of Coral Games. The first is Coral Games Redux a sort-of-but-not-quite orchestral take on the original.

You can download it for a couple of quid on Bandcamp too, if you'd like to support The K.N.R.U.

Coral Games - Redux, by Paul Wolinski
track by Paul Wolinski


The second version is Coral Games Endless. As its name suggests, this is an endless version of Coral Games. Nothing more, nothing less. Oh, except you can click on the bubbles to pop them/generate nice melodies. It just about runs in (most) browsers, so go HERE if you'd like to give that a go. However, it is a much more pleasant experience if you download it. It's available for Windows/Mac and an untested Linux version. It is free or, if you're feeling flush, you can give a suggested donation. Check it all out at that above link.

This post is already getting a bit long, so I'll get into the specifics of the actual music system in use here another time.


I am still not sure if any of these versions capture the definitive idea of Coral Games. Perhaps this is true of all songs, or at least songs I have written, and so the thing to do ought to be letting it go and moving on to the next thing. Historically, this has been my tactic. On the other hand, I think one of the themes of The K.N.R.U. is going to be exploring possible ways to resist 'moving on' that don't result in lapsing into nostalgia. Nostalgia remains an enemy, sure. But it is progress that is killing us. The march into the future has been seized by the capitalists and accelerationists and fans of the abyss. I don't want to go that way!

Connected to this, I want to be able to use The K.N.R.U. to highlight the amount of time and effort and passion and energy it takes to make any piece of music or software or art, and set this against the deathly churn of the internet. This always-hungry machine eats it all up, allows it a moment of people's attention, then buries it under the extreme weight of the next day's content. No artist of any discipline can produce their art at the rate internet culture demands. This is not sustainable. Or at least, it is only sustainable if you flatten the distinction between art and ‘content’ and let it all be made by tech bros pressing the big A.I. button and irrevocably ruining everything.

And so yes, I want to use this space to give my Telex album a life longer than an Instagram story. And while I don't think there will actually be another version of Coral Games, I don't think I am done thinking about it as a song. And I am definitely not done thinking about the world of MIDI City.

Ok, that's all for now. Next time will probably be a deep dive into the Coral Games Endless music system and why it is relatively simple and why that's probably better than a lot of the more complicated ways of doing generative music. (And definitely better than letting an A.I. do it.)


Oh yes - thanks for subscribing! I was freaked out about starting this newsletter because I just don't have the performance skills to write to literally nobody and pretend there's somebody reading. But now there is plenty of you. Cheers for being interested. (Dispatch #001 is HERE if you joined after that went out.) I'm looking forward to seeing where this all goes. Comments on the blog are now switched on. Not sure exactly what that means or how to make it useful, but have at 'em!

Bye for now.

- Paul