Saturday, 22 December 2012

Main Title - Marathon 2: Durandal (Power of Seven /





Marathon. Creepy, proper 3D aiming, shadows, clips/magazines for ammo, oxygen for breathing in air or underwater, proper physics, neat cyberpunk storyline....it's a shame that the first game (up until recently with Aleph One) was only for Mac, although I certainly did enjoy blasting aliens with my brother on a G3 machine and an old Quadra 650 Mac - this is pre-OSX gaming at its finest - thanks Dad!

Replacing the characterful MIDI soundtrack of the first game, the second has a pumping dance track when you start up, giving you the idea that you are out to cause some mayhem and ruination to the Phfor from the first game. Most of the music in game became sound effect-driven to add suspense, but this still added up to a great title and an absolute blast on Windows or PC.

As for the band themselves, as far as I can tell the name Power of Seven was a pseudonym for another band called Psykosonik, who made music comparable to the 2Unlimited dance/pop crowd at the time. I gather that the mention of seven hooks in to the running theme of using the number seven in the Marathon games as well - although you would be better off looking at a Marathon lore website for a better of idea.

Either way, Power of Seven's opening title track for both Durandal and Infinity set the tone nicely and ensure that wonderful pavlovian response of going toe to toe with some Phfor, armed only with double shotguns. Bring it on!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Minibrute Patch cards

I was a bit fed of of finding few resources online for Minibrute patches since I bought mine. Of the few - and when I say a few, I mean literally a handful / can count them on one hand - of sites where you can download patch cards for sounds, nowhere is there a scan of the blank Minibrute patch cards that you get in the retail box from Arturia (not even on their website!). I haven't opened mine yet as I would like to keep them in pristine condition. Whether this has something to do with the 'Brute not being around in such high numbers or lack of effort from the owners, I don't know, however I did want to remedy this.

I've tried to recreate the Minibrute front panel as best I can with GIMP, using the existing Minibrute diagram on Arturia's website that they for one of their patches as a base, so that you can make your markings and share them with other Minibrute owners. While I would have liked to go mad and label everything up on the panel, I thought it would be best to keep it as simple as possible and just add space for a patch name at the bottom. This is not designed to be cut out and placed over the top of the unit, by the way - the intention was to make something that can be edited and shared easily as a graphic file. It's not as fancy as some I have seen, but it should do.

In the end I made two versions; a standard 'Brute panel in its traditional colours and an inverse, printer-friendly (ie: it consumes less ink) version. I didn't bother putting a link to my blog anywhere on the image as I thought it would spoil it, but if you find it useful, do ping me an email at southerntrax(at)gmail.com or post a link back. Otherwise, share it far and wide and I will hopefully be able to share some patches once I get the time to write some down.

Side note: I've reached 100 posts!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Gods / Bitmap Brothers


A really well done introduction track for the Bitmap Brother's game Gods, where a young Greek warrior proves his worth to Olympus through a series of challenges and trials - platform shooting and puzzles. As is customary for a Bitmap game, the lovely 16colour graphics are tempered by the tough, unrelenting and brutal gameplay, with lots of hidden treasures and powerups being awarded for completitionists and curious players who experiement with the many items, switches and traps hidden amongst the levels. It's enjoyable in that it actually rewards slower play to avoid traps and hazards, so the pacing is quite a change from the usual manic platform action of Sonic and the like.

Despite it being on older 16 bit home computers and later ports to the Mega Drive, it remains a solid title with some lovely FM stylised music and sound effects - on the Atari ST music, in game music is disabled, so the game runs nice and fast and is punctuated by some great, crisp sound effects. The introduction theme is notable as a good example of early 90s dance that made it into these commercial games and it's amazing that game designers were able to get fairly decent quality samples of their professionally produced tracks into games, which at that time came on 1.44Mb floppy disks

 Well worth checking out.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Some updates and new gear

It's a right Korg-fest at the moment!
I know it's been a bit sparse in terms of updates at the moment but I've been super busy ahead of the end of this year and furthermore there are a ton of video games that have been sapping my attention.

My Soundcloud account has been looking a bit bare of late, so the plan is to finish a few tracks that I have had banging around for a few months and move on to using my Minibrute and Microkorg for some new music. With any luck I should be able to pipe them through my mixer and record phrases in Audacity for use in Madtracker.

Minibrute and Synth Kitty
In the meantime, I had a hankering for an effects generator to plug my Minibrute into after seeing some lovely videos that used older analogue delay units for playing with and settled on the Korg Mini KP2. It's a smart little unit that has loads of different effects including delay, reverb, filters, panning, LFOs, beat slicers and so on and as it's small and easy to use, it's the perfect thing to add to my set up. I've also been using my Monotrons with it and having a right old jam session or two.


Thursday, 6 December 2012

TT 303 - A 303 clone with balls



It's funny that someone recently said that most bassline synthesisers either emulate the TB303 or the Moog Taurus. Well, now that I have the answer to the Taurus in the shape of the Minibrute, perhaps it's timely that the TT 303 has come to my attention.
As far as I can tell it is a TB 303 that has been upgraded with its own operating system for pattern generation and storage. So you can use it to get all those great old acid basslines as well as create new ones quickly by tweaking a randomly generated one - I can imagine that results my vary here but it might take some of the sweat out of programming a TB 303 if you are not used to step programming. Luckily a misspent youth playing with ReBirth put paid to that idea for me.

As far as I can tell they are all sold out, but there will be more coming according to the website - I have also seen a few paid adverts on the London Gumtree for new ones of these. Might be a nice Christmas present for yourself!

Full details at:

http://superiorsoundslondon.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=1

Minibrute

Yes, you saw it right - I am now the proud owner of a Minibrute. After umming and aahing around for quite long enough, when I found one at the Music Production Show last month, I had to get one when I found that a retailer at the show had them for £399. A steal considering what it is and especially as I was given a masterclass in its operation by one of the nice chaps at Source distribution.

So let's get some of the limitations out of the way first. Yes. it's a short keyboard but the keys are nicely sized and come with configurable aftertouch as a lovely bonus (so you can affect vibrato or filter cutoff directly during play). All the knobs bar one (the envelope amount on the square wave is really loose on mine but nothing to get in a hissy fit over) turn nicely and build quality is above par, especially for the price. It's a heavy mother as well and is hardly going to move anywhere once you get it seated on a table or worktop. It's great to have one knob per feature control on a synth as you can really see what you are doing and tweak on the fly. The lack of patch memory really isn't a problem as you begin to get a good idea of the features of your synthesiser and what it is capable of. After a while, I found myself quickly dialing in some favourite types of sounds and remembering what goes where helps in this regard.

So how does it sound? In a word, amazing. Despite the 'brute being a single oscillator, because it's a mixer you can sculpt some really great sounds out of it and not just bass sounds either. An added advantage of having a well designed synth whose pitch isn't limited in software (Minitaur, I am looking at you, sir), it means that you can do all the nice leads and trumpet sounds as well as the thundering, window-rattling basslines that this synth is known for. The arpeggiator is good fun and even things like the swing knob can add some shuffle to a phrase.


I think Arturia have done themselves proud and this is an excellent entry into hardware analogue synthesisers. Yves Usson and the team have made a synth that sounds great but is above all fun to use and I hope I can do it justice by using it in my productions as well.

Note: No, I won't sell it so please don't contact me asking about it.

Friday, 30 November 2012

The importance of MIDI

I wasn't aware that Dave Smith of DSI was the man responsible for developing and convincing music makers to adopt Music Instrument Digital Interface for controlling synthesisers and drum machines, so this little article courtesy of Auntie Beeb makes for a good (if short) read. They even make comparisons with the open/free software movement as Smith was more interested in industry adoption of the technology than making money with it, although in hindsight I feel it was better to have a standardizing technology like MIDI rather than unreliable and variable voltage control technology.

Nice to see Alex DR Patterson of The Orb making a sound byte as well!

Full article available at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20425376

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Photos from Music Production Show 2012

Moogs at Source Direct
I took a day off on Friday to go visit the Emirates Stadium (home to Arsenal Football Club), which was playing host to the Music Production Show 2012. Strangely enough, this is the only event in the UK devoted to music production and I think it was definitely a step in the right direction, focusing on dance and electronic music as well as guitars and traditional gear.

Amongst the exhibitors were Source Direct (pretty much the UK's number one supplier of all American and import synthesiser equipment), Yamaha, Steinberg, Music Tech, Sound On Sound, Novation, KVR and lots of microphone and studio equipment suppliers, so there was plenty to catch and have a play around with.


Steinberg's Cubase 7 Stand


As the Friday (it was also on on the Saturday) had much more of a student focus, there were a couple of decent tutorial seminars from Yamaha / Erb n Dubs on drum and bass production and Steinberg who were presenting the new Cubase 7 DAW. Lots of exciting new stuff coming up and interesting to get a new perspective on things; in particular, Erb N Dubs had a nice sample CD of drums and kits for all attendees, which I was able to grab a copy of as there were loads of students vying for copies as well. I haven't had a good look around it yet but there's plenty there plus Rex files and Massive presets as well, if you are so inclined. Either way, free stuff is free stuff and I am sure I will find a use for it at some point. 

I also got to meet Nick from Sonic Lab as well, which was a pleasant surprise, who says that he's already gearing up for NAMM 2013 coverage early next year. It just reminds me of quite how ridiculously busy we've all been this year and how 2012 is going to be 2013 in a matter of weeks. Anyway, a thoroughly nice bloke and I'm sure that his website will contain some nice video coverage of the show as well.
 
Hopefully the successes of the MPS 2012 will translate into the organisers returning to London next year for a repeat show and with any luck, making it bigger and better.

More photos after the jump!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Teeny tiny synthesiser

Nanoblock Synthesiser
No, Korg haven't realised a smaller Monotron - I've just been given one of these lovely little Nanoblock bags with enough pieces to build a small synthesiser.

Apparently you can pick them up online quite easily or at Toys R Us warehouses and other toy shops. The pieces are much smaller than your average Lego bricks but luckily they give you some extra bits in case you want to get creative and/or mislay some of the parts.

Oh those Japanese, they come up with smaller and more amazing things these days!

More photos below or you can visit:
http://diablock.co.jp/nanoblock/

WE GOT ONE!!!


Holy mother of god, I've finally managed to get something musical that I have been waiting so long for. Full review to come very very shortly.

Unatco Theme - Deus Ex


Thanks to the division of developer Ion Storm into two separate entities (the other being responsible for the collosal failure of Daikatana), Warren Spector's Deus Ex was a revelation in gaming when it came out in 2000. A story of a criminal consipiracy working in the background to usurp the United States ran alongside the development of AI, nanotechnology and human augmentation, with you playing a genetically and nano-augmented super agent of a government agency. 

Thrust into a game world with plenty of backstory to discover, plot twists and lots of great touches everywhere, Deus Ex needs an entry in my Saturday Soundtracks list. The UNATCO HQ theme is a great standout track, as it is one area during the beginning of the game that you repeatedly come back to and it works well to describe the humdrum office environment and some kind of resemblance to "home" during the game.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Daft Punk website reborn!

Picture credit: Resident Advisor
Okay, so slightly late compared to the rest of the world, but the Daft Punk website has just been updated (although just to reflect the name of the band). This has been the first change in ages to their website and with any luck, this will mean new material coming out from them in the future. After the Tron Legacy soundtrack, it will be good to see what the French super duo have in store for us.

http://www.daftpunk.com

Monday, 19 November 2012

Blood Money - Atari ST


A slow and ominous track from developer DMA Design (a respected software house who later became Rockstar and the rest, as they say, is history), this featured in the game Blood Money: the more polished successor to title Menace. Blood Money was a slick shoot 'em up with lots of well animated baddies to shoot, coins to collect and tons of upgrades. As per many titles of the time, sprites and backgrounds made as much use of 16 colours as possible and the combination makes for an excellent and challenging game today.

As for the music: on the face of it, it's a nice and simple bit of Atari ST chiptunes that belies some complex arpeggios, some nice crunchy percussion and whispy square waves. Just what you need to accompany you in your little submarine when blasting anything moving that wants to send you to a watery grave.

SomaFM Xmas streams

As regular as clockwork, my favourite internet radio station SomaFM have just opened their new streaming radio channels for the holiday season, including the firm favourite Xmas in Frisko. 

Seeing as they seem to have disappeared from iTunes, you can download the streaming files and listen to it in a variety of formats at their website:

http://www.somafm.com

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Book review: How Music Works

Best described as a part biographical, part educational and part historical text, How Music Works is David Byrne's attempt to track the evolution of music as it has been affected by history, social norms and technology. Given the author, this is pieced together with a smattering of stories and references to his career with Talking Heads, his solo works and relationships with other artists including Brian Eno.

The book's rather large undertaking splits its subject into several key areas per chapter, covering different venues and the topic of reverberation in one chapter and evolving recording technology in another. Other areas include production methods, the relevance of recording studios past and present, collaborations and analogue vs digital. What starts off as a large topic is broken down into a somewhat free-flowing story of anecdotes, research and examples, making for easy and humour-filled reading. Byrne is happy to share his knowledge and experiences from his career and melds them nicely into the narrative. Despite the sense that Byrne routinely seems to demonstrate that he has "been there, done that" at every step of the way, his recollections rarely seem boorish and always have relevance to each point.

It might be easy for critics to accuse him of being overly nostalgic when looking back on how things developed and how they affected his band, however Byrne carries an appreciation of the future and that things move on; none more so than the music industry. It is in this area that Byrne certainly makes up for any shortcomings with his no-nonsense explanation of the music industry. Coming at the subject from the angle of an amateur musician, I really enjoyed the clear overview of the industry and the pros and cons that all the options present. In coming at the subject from a business perspective, the book really does give some great insights into the industry and adds that the traditional models are also being circumvented by modern distribution methods. From a personal point of view I'm not sure whether it has given me hope or not in terms of making music to make money, but it has certainly been demystified for me.

Also of note is the variety in his musical tastes, drawing on his extensive music library so that when referring to genres or artists to apply to his theories, these are not limited to the those that he is associated with during his career. In doing so, you are forced to consider different styles and the cultures that developed them, emphasising that the book is about how all music works, not just some. For me, how Music Works is not designed as the be all and end all of music history and industry handbook, but a reasoned approach to charting the evolution of music, its production and consumption and gives plenty of food for thought for any music aficionados or aspiring artists.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Thoughts on physical media for music

A recent post on the Guardian website gave me food for thought; not least of which because at the moment this is a question I have been thinking about for a while. Whilst there are more and more people who consume music via live streaming, YouTube and .mp3s, I know that there are plenty of people that prefer a physical connection to their music. So I thought I'd weigh in on the discussion and make for a rambling post.

Zombie Stomp - new track on Soundcloud

I have a new track to listen to on Soundcloud, this time taking some inspiration from Halloween. It's been an idea I've had in my head and in draft form for about three years so I'm glad I was able to finally get it arranged and put out there. 

As ever, any feedback is much appreciated

Listening to music at work.

A good, albeit short, article on Business Week caught my eye this week - looking at how music affects your mental state while at work. I personally like the way that it focuses my attention by blocking outside noise / stupid questions / requests for information etc. But as most of my day is spent communicating with people, I can't exactly listen to much anyway!

For those of you who are lucky enough to listen to music at work, enjoy!

Original article at:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-08/how-music-at-the-office-affects-your-work-life

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Topical news

Now, I've tried to keep religion out of music so far, but this story in the Guardian recently got my blood boiling. How dare a religious group enact a complete ban on music and go so far as to threaten death to anyone who plays music as being "un-Islamic"?

Music binds and connects us all on a much more fundamental and basic level than religion ever will; stop denying this to people and let it flourish wherever there is an ear to hear it.

Full story at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/23/mali-militants-declare-war-music

Saturday, 27 October 2012

New Scandinavian electronica at Queen of Hoxton

Another review from me in the form of Incidentally Nordic 3, featuring some very nice ladies from Sweden and Norway who make electronic music.

Full review:
http://www.egigs.co.uk/index.php?a=14251

Frost:
http://frostnorway.com/

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Good Burger - Good Blog!



I just rediscovered this great, catchy track from Brookes Brothers called Good Burger, available on their self-titled album (which comes full of some excellent drum and bass tracks). It also provides me an excellent seague into promoting another blog I have started up covering burgers reviews, which can be found at the following address:

http://thoroughlyniceburgers.blogspot.co.uk/

Hope to see you there and enjoying pictures and reviews of incredibly tasty hamburgers.

Lanthanum - hip hop grooves and summer sounds

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Edge of Soul - Soul Edge on Playstation


"Transcending history and the world, a tale of soul and swords eternally retold"

Another week and another Namco title from the Playstation era - this time it's Soul Edge and the theme Edge of Soul from the Introduction FMV sequence, as above. It works brilliantly in setting the scene of 1on1 battles between characters from different places and goes some way to introducing the cast and explaining their backgrounds. 

Musically however, I found that the track and the way the video was cut was a great way of pumping you up before a match. It's a high BPM rock number with lots of Japanese influences and even a half decent vocal performance thrown in as well. I was never a really good fighting game player, but this title was done with such flair and style that I couldn't ignore it. The customisable weapons, the sidestepping (which Tekken at the time didn't have), the guard mechanics - it was all much deeper to me than the experience I had with Tekken and the speed of some of the rounds reminded me of Battle Area Toshinden. It's no surprise that this game spawned quite so many sequels, although this original has a lot more substance to it I feel.

Given the size of the Playstation disc, there was plenty of space to add additional content on the disc. In fact, the original game only takes up about 30Mb on MAME, so the Playstation version had loads of extra modes, training scenarios, different skins, weapons and even a story mode called Edge Master Mode. The music was also remixed and new versions put in along side the arcade soundtrack, so there is just loads of content there to enjoy. There are plenty of period Japanese-style pieces as well as big-band jazz and electronic numbers and literally something for everyone.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Two for Tuesday - Ether 2012 show reports

I've been a little bit busy of late, with a hectic schedule at work with events at the other side of the country, a strained relationship and other bits and pieces. Life is just never easy, I guess.

Anyway, I've not been so busy that I haven't been able to do some gig blogging and I now have managed to single handedly cover two more events at Ether Festival 2012 for Efestivals, who now have my photos and reviews of Swedish group Iamamiwhoami, who played a big stage show last week, and UK electronic duo Mount Kimbie and their intimate gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall lobby. Clearly the better lighting of the Iamamiwhoami gig resulted in some better photos, but never mind; both were excellent gigs and nice additions to the lineup of acts that have been playing this year.



Iamamiwhoami Review and Photos:
http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/ether/2012/photos-review-iamamiwhoami.shtml
http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/ether/2012/photos-iamamiwhoami-ether2012-cs.shtml
Mount Kimbie Review and photos 
http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/ether/2012/photos-review-mountkimbie.shtml
http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/ether/2012/photos-mountkimbie-ether2012-cs.shtml

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Let's Go Away / Rolling Start - Daytona USA


There's something about Daytona USA that means that it remains on the arcade floor (and there's still a single player cabinet left in Namco's arcade in London's South Bank) - maybe it's the fact that you have to sit down to drive it or that the controls feel clunky and solid or that if you're lucky you can find an 8-way cabinet for playing against loads of your friends. This was made during the heyday of Sega's Model 2 arcade system, which were riding high in the popularity stakes whilst the Mega Drive made inroads in the home market. It's fair to say that they knew what they were doing when they put this out on the market.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Apparat Band at Ether

Hot on the heels of Oxjam, I've just had a review of Apparat's band added to EFestivals as part of the Ether season. It feels weird to review without my best mate doing camera work but as the cameraman I asked to help out is so flakey and unreliable, I have also taken to doing photographs.

Full review and photos available at;

Friday, 5 October 2012

Calcium - it'll leave deposits on ya!



Lovely new track from me and some great responses from people on Soundcloud so far. Basically a kind of experiment with rain sounds, reverb and delay in an attempt to create soundscapes. Hope you enjoy and if you like it, let me know by leaving me some feeedback.

Find me on Soundcloud as ever:
http://www.soundcloud.com/southerntrax

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Hot Chip & Friends @ Oxjam


Last week, I had the chance to watch Hot Chip and friends consisting of The 2 Bears, Four Tet and Simian Mobile Disco play the Oxfam store in Dalston, East London in order to raise money for the charity by playing an exclusive gig. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot of CDs out of the shop as well.

I did an interview with Hot Chip as well, which was great fun messing around shooting the breeze with Alexis and Owen. It was also the first time I used my iPod to record the interview for later transcribing - in this case, I used Roland's AirRecorder app, although it produced a really quiet recording to work with. Next time I'll angle the iPod properly ;).

In the meantime, the full review with further photos is available at:

http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/oxjam/2012-october/review-hotchip.shtml

The interview can be found here:
http://www.egigs.co.uk/index.php?a=14211

Human Traffic - Record Shop Scene


A blast from the past for me and a classic scene from the 90s film Human Traffic; a story of four friends in Cardiff living crap lives who live for the weekend, featuring drinks, drugs, pubs and clubs. Acting as a blueprint for clubbing and also preserving the story of people clubbing in the early 90s, this film is easy on the eyes, funny throughout and  full of great moments, making it instantly quotable. It also features a very young Danny Dyer, Rick Grimes and John Simm (amongst others), who turn up regularly in BBC TV shows and films these days. Given the subject material, Human Traffic carries some amazing records as soundtrack including CJ Bolland, Aphrodite, Ferry Corsten, Fatboy Slim and Death in Vegas.

This scene sees Koop, the smooth talking record shop owner, dealing with his customers (who would turn up at the club later on) with style. The guy who asks if he's got any Jungle in is actually the director of the film, Justin Kerrigan, which makes him one of the best independant directors the UK has see. The T-shirt and use of Stakker alone makes this scenes - enjoy!

More info:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0188674/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Traffic

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fair Deal Music

I happened to be passing through Birmingham last week and had some time to kill in the town centre before I took my train back to London. I had clocked a really nice musical instruements shop not far from the main station and decided to have a look inside. 

This is an amazing haven of synthesisers, guitars, pianos and more. As you can see from this photo, they had pretty much everything from the last ten years of Korg's lineup, including the Microkorg, R3, Electribes and Kaossilators all lined up in a row, so I was able to spend a good hour "testing" everything out :). They even had some of the new Roland synthesisers (Jupiter 50 and 80 next to each other) and some very expensive physical and electronic pianos as well.

Anyway, if anyone is in Birmingham and is looking to get some hands on time with a new synthesiser, give these guys a call and take a look. I feel bad for walking out not having spent anything there but I already own a Microkorg so there's not much I can justify at the moment (although I did like the idea of a Mini KP Kaoss Pad).

http://www.fairdealmusic.co.uk/

R-Type Theme for Atari ST


Back once again to the venerable Atari ST, a home console that saw an awful lot of arcade ports. Some of these were amazing and great fun, whilst others are not worth mentioning. Amongst all these is the side scrolling R-Type, which had some pretty characterful music on the Atari ST courtesy of the FM sound chip and use of arpeggiated square waves, as you will hear in the video. The only down side to this was that the game used all of the four sound channels (three waves and noise) to create the music, which meant no sound effects in game. These I had to enjoy when I finally found the original on MAME.

Either way, these were great to listen to as I blasted away and as the rest of the port is pretty authentic to the original (bar the slower refresh rate in normal gameplay) I was still able to enjoy the game regardless. It still remains a great shooter, with some memorable bosses and very creepy levels to go up against, with lots of zappy lasers and other power ups.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

App review - DM1 for iOS


I have been looking through the App store recently and there are quite a number of apps looking at drum machines and MPC style programs, some are very cheap and clunky and others more expensive that offer much more involved i/o and features, such as the iMaschine from Native Instruments. There is one particular app caught my ear, the DM1 drum machine from Fingerlab, so I thought to get hold of a copy to play with and wanted to share my experiences and opinions.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A look around Vangelis' studio

From www.NemoStudios.co.uk
I've recently discovered a lovely website detailing the London studio that greek producer Vangelis had when he was writing the soundtrack to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner amongst other films and works, composed of photos of the studio and a compelling narrative all tied together into a flash microsite.

As a big fan of Vangelis' score for Blade Runner (I once listened to it roughly every couple of days in the mornings when I used to commute on the train to London from Croydon) I was curious to see how Vangelis was able to produce such a masterpiece and was impressed with his setup. If the collection of synthesisers was expensive then, no doubt it remains so given the ridiculous prices of some of these machines - especially the Yamaha CS 80 for doing the fat strings heard all over the album.

Well worth a look for any synthesiser geek, music lover, Blade Runner fan and more.

Picture is from Nemo Studios, I hope they don't mind me using it during this plug!

Nemo Studios:
http://www.nemostudios.co.uk/

For the Blade Runner article in particular:
http://www.nemostudios.co.uk/bladerunner/

Hell March - Frank Klepacki (Command and Conquer: Red Alert)



Red Alert, the second real time strategy game from Westwood Studios in the series, remains a turning point in the history of games. This was the first time that I had played a top-down, fully developed RTS title that gathered a nice mixture of gameplay mechanics, science fiction, hammy voice acting and unforgetable moments of glee and pain. The game itself works well as it employs a nice scissors-paper-stone approach to stats and uses, being that more powerful units are never quite as overpowered as they should be or cost too little or too much to deploy vs their intended uses. The idea of taking down a base's power grid to disable defences is a great idea and the game also boasts some iconic units, such as the specialist Tanya, the almighty Cruiser and of course the Tesla Coil.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Starglider Main Theme


These days it's too easy to be somewhat callous when considering a videogame soundtrack, when modern games get the treatment of 100-man orchestras, CD-quality sound or famous composers working on them. Rewind back to the earlier time of beeps and bloops and games like Starglider, a wire-frame vector artwork arcade-style flight shoot-em-up burst on to the screens of the Atari ST from Rainbird software (whose producer Jez San also designed the SuperFX chip for the SNES and now works on one of the more successful gambling websites in the UK - well played!). 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Magnesium, burning bright!

My goodness, what a busy boy I've been recently! After two days of being quite possessed by this track, I had to get it done and dusted and out there, so here is Magnesium for you to enjoy.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Actinium - new track on Soundcloud

Another new track out on Soundcloud, this time something more bouncy and electro - house oriented.

I've got a week off at the moment so I'm trying my best to make some new tracks and get them finished so I can post them up.

http://soundcloud.com/southerntrax/actinium





Wednesday, 29 August 2012

SW4 coverage and reviews

First up are the reviews that I have written which are now up on Efestivals to read. I've also updated the reviews page (top bar) with some other reviews I had forgotten to stick up there, so eat your heart out. Not sure about photos for the festival though.

Chase & Status, Skrillex & others @ SW4 Festival / Clapham Common, London / 25th - 26th August 2012

 
In the meantime, check out the three videos I have posted on Youtube of the festival - there are some great people with better videos as well so you can get a better feel of the show.

Knife Party on Day 1

DJ Fresh on Day 2

Roger Sanchez on Day 1

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Smashed it on Saturday!

So it may have rained like a motherfucker, thunder and lightning all present, but my god what an awesome Saturday. So amped for the Sunday as I write my review for Efestivals; all I have to say is that you have to grab a ticket to see Knife Party as soon as.Why? Imagine this in a muddy field!


Photos and more to come on bank holiday monday when I have had a chance to catch my breath after day two of SW4!

Edit: Ok, I lied. Here's a shitty video I just put together:

 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Resident Evil 2 OST - Various


Resident Evil 2 was the first game of the series I had played, right back on the PS1. While the shuffling, low-poly count zombies looked a little basic next to the lovely pre-rendered backgrounds, I believe this added something to the experience in the same way that Konami's faceless enemies come at you. Not only that, but the game moved to a much larger locale; the nearby town of Raccoon City and let the descent into madness happen anew.

It's Saturday and SW4 is here!


In a bizarre and surprise-of-the-good variety, I have just been granted press guestlist access to both days of London's South West Four festival in leafy Clapham Common. Crossing over the river and down in to South London I have the following acts to look forward to.

Saturday:

Chase & Status
Carl Cox
Knife Party
Benny Benassi
A-Trak
Erick Morillo
Paul Van Dyk
Markus Schulz
Guy Gerber
Robert Babicz
John Digweed
and lots more.

Full lineup at: http://www.southwestfour.com/Lineup.aspx

After the mess that was Bloc Weekender (RIP), I'm keen to get my teeth into a decent dance music festival. Chase & Status headlining should be an awesome set, even if it does end at 10pm. Day two also looks fun as well.

Want to join me? Head to Twitter and look for me on the SW4 hash tag lists.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Chilling out at Netil house

Boasting some lovely views across East London, the roof has been transformed into a decked garden. Celebrating the last days of summer with food music and strawberry cider.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Doom - Level 1


I seriously hope I don't quite have to explain this game to anyone, but the first track on the soundtrack still gets me pumped for the run and gun experience that is ID's Doom. My first experience of this had been on the Atari Jaguar, which owing to hardware limitations didn't have any music. Arguably this lead to a creepier, horror-filled experience of the game (try it without music to see what I mean), but after getting in on deathmatch games on my school's PCs, this changed the game into a much more fun filled blast-a-thon. Still a great play nowadays as well.

Quick review: X-Factor pack


I was showing a couple of Dutch friends around London recently and came across a cheap box set that my favourite music store Fopp were selling. It's an X-Factor branded Karaoke set (despite the Lucky Voice logos everywhere, only this is designed to be used with a laptop and internet connection. For a fiver, I thought it would be worth messing with, if only for a few cables and a microphone.

Going gold for Team GB

Proud to be British at the moment, given the amazing results with Team GB in some of the Olympic events this year and I have been enjoying them from the comfort of my own flat in the company of friends. Should I also mention that my flat looks over the Olympic Park? Amazing fun to be had in London at the moment!



Saturday, 28 July 2012

Foregon Destruction, Forgotten Worlds - Unreal Tournament


Some fine atmospheric jungle drum and bass in mod tracker form, no less, from the fine folks who lovingly crafted the Unreal Tournament soundtrack. This particular track adorned the legendary FaceII CTF map, where battles were won and lost with snipers on both sides picking off the other players trying to capture. Add a redeemer, shield belt, environmental deaths and other goodies into the mix and you had a brilliant PC based FPS experience for the end of the 1990s.

Atari YM ST Synth

 

From the department of "but it wasn't supposed to do that originally!" comes a fusion of an Atari ST, keyboard synthesiser and arpeggiator. Even better is the fact that thewhole thing is built into old Atari ST hardware - nicely done, guys!


Week Off?

Yes, I took a week off from blogging. In amongst all the other things I usually do, I have been:
  • Drinking lots with friends for the opening ceremony for the olympics
  • Signed up to twitter (despite my better judgement) - find me at #southern_trax
  • Going crazy with getting MIDI to USB to work for my Control Freak
  • Watching Hellsing again
  • Moving offices
  • Playing Stalker, GTA 3 and loads of other games after the Steam sale
  • Meeting people from the Netherlands
  • Buying silly microphone gizmos (stay tuned)
So anyway, it's all time to get back into the swing of things. Currently listening to some Amorphous Androgynous after a while and it certainly suits the hangover I have right now. Hey, it's the Future Sound of London by another name - a pastiche of psychaedelia :)