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Sid Music Reviews
by Smalltown Boy/MultiStyle Labs

Howdy hackers. Smalltown Boy/MultiStyle Labs on the keys, typing in a bit of a hurry, because the deadline for my text was yesterday. From this issue onwards, I'll be reviewing musics for "Attitude", so I'd like to say a few words as an introduction now. First of all, I'll be reviewing newly released music ONLY. If you'd like to read a word or two about your tunes, you have to compose something and release it as soon as possible. Treat it as an inducement for being an active scener.

Another important thing is that you have to remember: I'm reviewing your music, not yourself personally. Don't take it too hard, even if I call your tune "a miserable piece of shit" or give it one point out of ten. Instead, just try to progress, become better and better at what you're doing and rest assured I'll appreciate it. Moreover, consider the fact that art assessment is always, at least a little bit, subjective. What I like is not always in accordance with what some/most of you people out there like.

Last thing worth mentioning: I will not write a single word about my own (obvious), nor my groupmates' - whoever they are - tunes (less obvious). In case there is such a tune among those waiting for something to be written about them, I will hire a guest reviewer, namely Magnate/Obsession, to do the job. That's all, I suppose. Let's get on with the show.

PRIMARY STAR 2003 MUSIC COMPO ENTRIES

1st place - Reyn Ouwehand "Primary Star"

I'm in deep trouble here. How could you possibly dare to write anything negative about a tune that Reyn has just composed? It surely is a nice piece of music, but hardly anything more. It brings nothing innovational musically (let alone innovational soundprogramming) and is too smooth to be rated as high as you would suppose Reyn Ouwehand's new tune shall be rated. Simple chords, simple arrangement, simple melody - something you can listen to without much of an effort, yet I fail to imagine anyone humming it while shaving, because the melody isn't catchy enough to overcome the harmonic simplicity. Compared to his previous release "X98", which was excellent, it does not look good. (Yet still better than a large part of what gets released nowadays, mind you.) However, it's not the point. If your name is Reyn Ouwehand, you just can't come up with something that average, especially after five years of silence. I expected an earthshake of some kind and therefore ended up in confusion, possibly. Overall: 6/10.

2nd place - "Another Morning" by Gerard Hultink

Gerard Hultink is a constant runner-up in this year's competitions. He got third place at LCP, second place at North Party following week, so probably he could have expected to be placed first this time. But no. However, I consider the above a mistake. This tune is very good, with just a bit of jazzy feeling (less than usual) and dynamics changes that force you to listen closely throughout the whole duration of a tune. Main theme is quite catchy - as catchy as possible when you try to compose something not so obvious. Nice, slow arpeggios. Apparently Gerard changed his instruments set (at last) - I ALMOST wouldn't tell it's his tune if I didn't knew - but what is still very unique for GH's arrangements, he crams bass, bassdrum and snare in one channel without mixing those instruments with each other. There's a fine change of style at 2:31. Overall: 7/10.

3rd place - "Heidens Vuur" by Finn

I hate such tunes. It consist of effects only. There are many carefully crafted instruments (the tune is 4x), which sound interesting when considered separately - but there is NO music here. (It's like buying a Schimmel Grand Piano in order to hammer it with fists and scream.) May remind some people of Daf a bit, due to instant changes of arrangement and musical (???) phrases, but without Daf's command of composition the effect turns out to be rather awful. Something like Ed on amphetamine. Overall: 3/10.

4th place - "Bloedzuster" by Factor6

Another multispeed tune, although much better than the previous one. Using a real music language, it's something in between thrash metal (bassline) and funk (background arpeggios). I can't help myself comparing it to real music and songs you can hear on the radio, because it has a canto, a chorus and a bridge - what more do you need to form up a regular song? However, lead instruments (whiny pulse, and 2x octave arpeggio as well) sound a bit detuned at times and therefore leave something to be desired. The most catchy bit about this one is chorus - just what you might have expected. Overall: 6/10.

5th place - "Multihardcore" by Sad

Jesus Christ almighty!... Please spare me listening to Sad's music. Fenek/Arise has described his style once as "rural techno", and the above description hits the spot exactly. Imagine yourself a country wedding with lots of vodka and drunken peasants dancing to the techno-like music of even more drunken band - you should get a fairly good picture of Sad's idea of music. I appreciate his ability to create really interesting sounds (especially using multiplied speed), but one more tune of his and I swear I'm gonna die, killed by extreme plainness, or throw up. Or both, I'm not sure. Overall: 2/10.

6th place - "www.ogrish.com" by Sad

This one is a little better. Who knows, perhaps it's even a highlight of Sad's career as a composer? Don't get me wrong - it ain't good, but at least does not cause my bowels to twist. It bears all characteristic marks of Sad - loud, dense bassline, extremely fast pulse modulation and simple beat - yet this time they're used with more inspiration. Overall: 4/10.

7th place - "Sad Toad" by Sexton

Hmmm. Sounds like it was made by a novice composer - although a promising one at that. Even if the rhythm section is just awful; and the rest of instruments too, to be honest - I appreciate the way they are composed into a pleasant music. Keep doing it, Ernesto, keep improving your technique, and don't forget to share the results with us. Overall: 5/10.

8th place - "Sailing" by Abaddon

The most underrated tune of the compo. I just shake my head, not finding words rude enough to describe rating Sad and Finn higher than Abaddon. "Sailing" is one of the best tunes I had a chance to listen to this year. Everything is full of inspiration here - main theme gets you caught, makes you smile and keeps so, the arrangement is indeed original, early be-bop styled (with trioles, technically advanced chords, walking bass and syncopated drums in the bridge) and the solos are just awesome, giving you really good impression of what be-bop should sound like (well, at least on C64...). The only, albeit minor, thing I'm disappointed with is bass, which shouldn't sound distorted - for this spoils the feeling (perhaps Abaddon switched over to 6581 in the meantime?... I listen to the tune on 8580). In other words - the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the audience at Primary Star party got suddenly deafened by evil Martians at the time of Abaddon's tune playing. There's no other possibility. Dear visitors! Next time, don't let your ears to be deafened and VOTE FOR GOOD MUSIC, goddammit!!! Overall: 9/10. (I'm saving ten points for Reed's "Cyberdragon" - as I plan to write something about Assembly 2003 music compo entries in the next issue of "Attitude".)

9th place - "Egghead" by Merman

Andrew Fisher goes Richard Bayliss, and it's definitely not good for him. I've never been a fan of Richard's simple style, and I presume that trying to copy it is much worse than inventing it. Techno-like, with non-filtered bass, gross chords and even more gross melodies - I say no to such music, especially as Richard satisfies a public demand for it completely. Thus, we don't need another one. Overall: 4/10.

10th place - "701" by Pater Pi

You can tell from its 10th place that it isn't something you could find attractive. You're right. But this tune should not be judged in terms of attractiveness. Pater Pi has been listening to Wacek, that's pretty obvious, and the results are, well, a little beyond my expectations, in positive meaning of the above phrase. But it should have never competed in any compo, it's just too repetitive. Moderately slow tempo, triangle wave bass, strange (but not sophisticated enough) filter effects and quiet arpeggios - in general, trance and ambience are the words that come to mind. If Pater Pi keeps going in that direction, improves his command of soundprogramming, and puts more work into his music, I will be the first to announce a new star on the experimental sidmusic scene. Overall: 5/10.

ALL (B)EARS - MUSIC COLLECTON BY YOGIBEAR

What makes a good music collection? According to myself, some good music (not necessarily marvellous), skilled code - allowing you to listen continuously without even noticing 1541 (or its emulated equivalent, hehe) working, and some extras, such as comments to each and every tune or graphical effects staying in harmony with the general atmosphere of music collected. "All (B)ears" has it all.

The collection itself is divided into 2 disksides - on the first side, there is a collection itself, and on the second, we find separate files, containing original releases - some of them really old, which results in a bit nostalgic feeling - the same music that got used in the collie. In my opinion, it wasn't really necessary to include them - my review concentrates only on what is to be found on the first side.

Yogibear's style isn't the one I'm very fond of - he did almost NO original tunes, endlessly covering others' pieces. However, he does it in his own elegant way, making a nice use of previously ripped and prepared instruments from classic composers. Yes, that's how Yogibear's musicmaking looks like - he takes some ready-to-use instruments (calling them "presets") from, for example, "Robocop" and "Myth", and then uses them to build his own piece in Roland Herman's player. It may sound appalling to some hardcore musicians, but "you'll recognize them from effects of their work" - or something like that.

The effects - at least in the collection reviewed - are truly astonishing. Everything fits here. Cartoon-like graphics and animation by JSL, funny intro (coded, like the whole collie, by Merman - man, perhaps you should think about giving up music and starting to code a bit more seriously?...) and pleasant, oldschoolish (owing it to 'presets' to some extent, I presume), even if not original or groundbreaking, sounds made by Yogibear. Each tune is commented in a scroller, colourful sprites are moving all around the screen, IRQ loader works without flaws, there are over 30 tunes (most of them already released, mind you, but what the heck - how many collections containing a significant amount of first releases were published lately, apart from "Speed"?) for you to enjoy. Concept, design and a proper amount of work put into the collie are visible in its every aspect.

To sum up - every musician should see "All B(ears)" and learn how to do a proper music collection from it. Thumbs up. If only the tunes were a little more fresh... Keeping in mind that they were not, here comes my rating:
- music: 6 points (counts twice),
- graphic: 8 points,
- code: 8 points,
- extras (you can call it design if you want to): 10 points.
<br /> Overall: 7.6/10

SMALLTOWN BOY/MSL

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