Saturday, 30 November 2013

Saturday Soundtracks: Chaos Engine

Another Bitmap Shooter gets added to my list of video game gems, this time the seminal classic Chaos Engine. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

1,000th number one album

According to a recent report in the BBC, Lady Gaga's new offering has been given the accolade of the 999th number one album in the UK after her third release. This paves the way for the one thousandth number one album and a massive number of releases. It's also gratifying to see that the Beatles are right up the top with 174 weeks at the top of the album charts since records began.

I'd like to focus not on the act of reaching 999 number one albums or perhaps even 1,000, but the fact that there has been enough variation and interest in the popular music world to get to 1,000 entries. In particular, I'm definitely a fan of Boney M's Nightflight To Venus, which was highlighted in the article as the 200th UK number on album as it features on a number of mix tapes I picked up in the 90s. As for the others, it's a mixed bag but I don't think any of them ever set out to claim a certain place in pop history but to get sold and make money!


Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday Soundtracks: Mortal Kombat Theme

It's unthinkable that I would have forgotten to mention this came at all in my video game music memories, with the opening title theme and music setting the scene for the excellent Mega Drive console port of the arcade beat 'em up classic. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

RIP: Winamp

Ars Technica is running a lovely story on the rise and subsequent fall of Winamp in the wake of news that AOL (who own Nullsoft) are pulling the plug past 20th December this year. This is truly a sad day given the rich history that Winamp has had and that it is on its last legs.

Hand in hand with Gnutella and other peer to peer sites around the turn of the millennium, Winamp was one of the more widespread .mp3 players that most in the fledgeling music downloading scene would use. East to use, skin-able, built in codecs for loads of audio and video formats, great plugin support, Shoutcast Internet radio, sweet visualisers (Geiss was my favourite), media library functions and more, Winamp was very much a media Swiss army knife for the masses while its competition floundered. Real Player was only truly good for its own streaming formats and DivX had plugins for Winamp that rendered its own program useless. Let's not even mention Windows Media Player, with its clunky interface, dreadful codec support and media licencing setup for anything you played on it.

For me, the one thing that killed Winamp was iTunes. Suddenly, the iPod was everywhere and needed iTunes to run, so people migrated over to it. Sure, you can get third-party support for iPods on Winamp, but people want something that just works without messing around. Nullsoft's purchase by AOL and subsequent firing of its founder Justin Frankel (founder of the Reaper DAW) probably didn't help, but then again, I don't think AOL really knew what they were doing with Winamp either. 

Nowadays, VideoLan Client (VLC) has taken over the role of Winamp, with an emphasis on functionality and compatibility rather than interface tweaks. Foobar2K also deserves a mention if you are looking for a simple and elegant .mp3 player for low-power netbooks. Ultimately I haven't been back to Winamp in years but it still holds a place in my heart as my first .mp3 player in the early days of file sharing.

RIP Winamp

Arstechnica story:

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Saturday Soundtracks: TMNT Tournament Fighters

Part of the problem with doing posts reminiscing about video game music, is that eventually you have trouble remembering all the games and their music that you enjoyed back in the day after doing the really obvious stuff.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Little Bits vs Korg: Part 2

Now that the initial hubbub surrounding the announcement of the Korg Little Bits Synth kit has died down a bit, Little Bits' website has finally recovered from the surge in popularity and managed to post a whole new page dedicated their new kit.

Quick disclaimer to Little Bits: I'm using all your images and linking to your site as they are fantastic.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Microbrute Impressions

So having has a chance to get over all the hype and the slightly cheeky party crashing of the announcement, Arturia's new analogue synth the Microbrute is finally upon us. Now after the dust has settled, it's worth taking a quick look at the new bit of kit.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Little Bits vs Korg

Not content to sit on their laurels, no-nonsense synth makers Korg have once again hit on a cheap music making idea by partnering with US toy makers Little Bits for a bespoke kit of synth modules that can interface with each magnets!

According to Synthtopia, the kit will come with enough pieces for a decent Monosynth, packing parts like an envelope generator, oscillator, mini keyboard and MS-20 filter to build with. I'm sure the intention is to build using more than one kit and make a phat little synth monster!