And now for an artist who I found through a video game demo, lost track of, then found again by accident not realizing until a while later that the new project was run by the guy who did that video game music years ago.

There isn’t too much; I’ll sum up. But first:

What is it?

Crossroads is the 2007 release, the middle part of a series of concept albums, by the oddly-named mind.in.a.box which is the brainchild of Stefan Poiss.

How does it sound?

We don’t lose a sampler mix, we are always right behind:

Why this pick?

Because it includes “Stalkers.”

Every now and then, someone on Twitter or other social media outlet will link to a video or suggest a song. One particular semi-stranger, who had linked some good selections (they helped point me at VNV Nation) previously, pointed me at “Stalkers.” I listened. And I listened again. And then I listened again. And then I bought the record it’s on.

So, here we are. Years later, “Stalkers” is still my favorite mind.in.a.box track, by far.

Anyway.

The funny part of writing about this record is that it’s not only a concept album, it’s part of a series of five connected concept albums, joined lyrically in one grand tale. What am I, a man who has a difficult time parsing lyrical meaning, doing listening to this thing at all?

Well, it sounds good. I know I’m not getting everything out of this project that I could be, but what I’m getting is enough. I like it! What more do I need?

Which songs are the highlights?

Three of the first four tracks are quite strong: “Introspection,” the seven-minutes-plus of “Amnesia,” and “Identity.” My favorite thing here is, of course, “Stalkers.” At nearly eight minutes long, “What Used To Be” manages not to wear out its welcome. And to close out the record there’s “Run For Your Life.”

Which songs don’t work so well?

“Into The Night” starts moderately strong but wanders aimlessly for the middle part of its seven minute runtime.

While the vocal effects (Stefan sings all the parts, including the female characters, with a lot of distortion effects processing) are more or less effective overall, on “Fear” they’re more distracting than complementary.

“The Place” is trying for a style and an effect and it misses both, unfortunately.

There are a couple of short spoken tracks, “Lucid Dreams” 1 and 2, which I only mention because they contribute to the song count and are probably story beats of some kind but otherwise are skippable.

Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?

I have three of the other four “story” albums, and given the general arc of improvement over the course of the project I nearly went with Memories, the final installment. There’s a lot of good stuff on that record. Problem is, I would feel weird if I recommended starting at the end then working your way back up the storyline. It’s bad enough I’m suggesting that a new listener start in the middle. But… I don’t like as much of Lost Alone or Dreamweb as I do Crossroads. So there you have it.

Any final thoughts?

Let’s talk about the Parsec demo, shall we?

In the late 1990s, fancy 3D computer graphics weren’t yet all that fancy. But some folks decided that what the world needed was a space-fighter shoot-em-up game, and decided to build one themselves. (You can see the current state of it at the OpenParsec site. You can also see a snapshot of convincingly-1990s web design while you’re there.)

Oh, and the guys working on Parsec were also dabbling in music, and posted MP3 files of the bits of soundtrack they’d been working on. I downloaded and played the demo (yes, back in the 1990s, it took a while) and also the music, which I liked more than the game (such as it was).

The game never went anywhere, but as a launchpad for Stefan Poiss and mind.in.a.box and such? Hey, whatever works!