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).

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

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:

For the Blade Runner article in particular:

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.