On ‘tracking, SID, Koyaanisqatsi and more … (Part 2)

I’ve only just recovered from the awesomeness of the Monty Mole and Delta covers, but must press on with the remaining modules I want to share with you.  I’ve realised that a few of these don’t seem to play in XMPlay: it just completely ignores them so you’ll need MODPlug instead, which seems to cope better with older tracks.

Just remember to rename the extension of these files to .mod from .doc as this was the only way I could upload them to WordPress.

Hallucination – Courtesy of Jesper Kyd, this is reminiscent of Tubular Bells but with some kickin’ drums over the top.  A very familiar drum sample – love to know where it came from.  It’s not the Amen Break though …

Jamboree – From Fleshbrain (no, really!), this is a great dub/reggae piece.  With steel drums and some nice pitch bends and vibrato, what’s not to like?

Laidback 5 – By Dr. Awesome, as its’ name suggests, this is a mellow piece that travels along very nicely.

Message – Another by Jesper Kyd, this samples Depeche Mode, Vangelis and 2001: A Space Odyssey. With a line up like that you are destined for success, but it is a fun track and stands well on its own merits.

The Moebius 2 – Coming out in 1993 this is practically modern, but still features 8 bit samples and four tracks.  A great little trancer.  Not sure of the author.

Moongazer – Fantastic little piece, with a very good attempt at a saxophone.  I should have guessed – this is also by Dr. Awesome.

Noname – Noname is the name, but it is by Anty.  This is one of those mods that just has that ‘mod’ feel which I can’t describe – gloriously electronic but has that ability to take you on a journey.  You can just imagine the graphics that would go with this.  Sadly XMPlay doesn’t play this so use something else instead.

Paradox – Composed by Pinnacle, this is another mellow track, this time featuring some nice bendy flute and more plinky plonk sounds that I love.

RSI Rise – This is a track that I keep coming back to (but you’ll need MODPlug to play it).  Another Romeo Knight number (hey, it says it in the track), this just screams out cyberpunk.  What the hell is cyberpunk anyway?  I think this is one of those ideas that made perfect sense for a while – right between a technological dark age where you had to be a computer whizz to get a computer to do anything of any real interest to a time where everyone was jacked into a network 24/7 without even realising it … only without the cool augmented cybernetic bodies.  We now have a ‘disease’ – Nomophobia, not to mention Internet addiction in general, yet no-one seems to have made a conscious decision to ever say- “Hey, this computer stuff is really going somewhere, I’m going to give the geeks some credit and hang up my football boots and join this interweb thingy”.  Instead, the people who make this all happen are still labelled ‘boffins’ (if I ever meet the person who coined that term …) yet if Joe Sixpack is ever unable to instant message his girlfriend it is all our fault.

Nomophobia – for God’s sake, how could this even come up as a possibility of an idea of something that could potentially happen. Fear of being out of mobile phone contact?  Sounds like nirvana to me.  It never ceases to amaze me the number of people on an aeroplane who switch their phone on the instant they hit the ground, despite warnings to keep them turned off.  Seriously, what are they expecting to hear?  Are they Donald Trump?  Are they waiting for news of some multi-million deal, or are they waiting for some inane shit from their family – ‘Hi, I’m waiting at the terminal‘ – where else would they fucking be waiting?  People need to gain some perspective on their lives.  Let’s say there was a slight possibility that something could go horribly wrong while using a mobile phone next to a fuel pump or whatever.  Is it their right to make that decision for me that they consider that possibility remote, and thus don’t have a problem ringing to tell someone ‘that they will be there soon‘.  From where I am sitting on the plane I can pretty much see the person on the other end of the call waving to us from the terminal.  For fucks sake, your personal life is not that important.  A few minutes will not send them into a flurry of concern, desperation and mindless speculation that the plane is currently being held up by terrorists and will explode if the tanker truck approaches to empty out the toilet system.

Anyway, I could spend all night riling against the inanity of humanity, but will instead leave you with some of the great comments on this page.

Sahara – Damn, I swear I’m not related to the guy and there is no nepotism involved.  Yes, it is Dr. Awesome again with another out there, melodic, drifting piece.  I can’t remember where I downloaded half these mods from – they have been on my computer for ages so maybe I went to his website.  I doubt it though…  maybe I just like his style.

Sarcophaser – Well, this is a bit of a turn up for the books.  If the AMP website is to be believed, this track is written by Karsten Obarski himself – the creator of the original Soundtracker format.  Some great intertwined melodic lines – it seems that he set the tone for many modules to come and this is a wonderful example of the genre.  Great stuff …

Space Journey – As the name suggests, a journey into the mind – after that it is your responsibility of where you go next.  Fresh samples and squelchy analogue samples round out a superb track.

Telephone – An unassuming name for a sweet track that really gets me going – that melodic line gets me every time.  Pity it is so damn short. I think the author poured everything into it in one go and didn’t leave room for dessert.  A common mistake that one.  Still, put it on repeat and it will be a while before you realise it as it just flows so beautifully.  Sorry, did I not mention?  This is Karsten Orbaski again.  Funnily enough I first heard this track via a public domain disc I purchased for the Archimedes and it stuck in my head for years before I rediscovered mods on my PC and searched it out …

Thunderbirds – Had to include this as a bit of a geek anthem for the time.  Plus it has a totally awesome bass-line …  and just the right amount of orchestra hits.  Couldn’t find it in the AMP database, and it doesn’t play in XMPlay, which makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

Toccata – More commonly know as Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by the ‘father of harmony’ of the classical (or baroque?) world – Johann Sebastian Bach.  While there is debate on whether this was originally composed by Bach, whether it was originally for the organ and whether it was even in D Minor, this version kicks arse (which is like an American ass with less legs and no tail).  Ok, so while it probably derives more from Sky’s version that the original organ piece, this is still an amazing interpretation and must have been done by someone who had some idea of what they were doing.

AMP credits two people – Allister Brimble and Blaster_One.  After listening to tracks from both, I’m sure Allister deserves the credit for this mod.  Plus, it seems he is responsible for the Superfrog soundtrack as well, so as far as I’m concerned, he is God, and I am one of his most loyal and devoted subjects.  Superfrog rulez.   Actually, so does Worms, the other Team 17 masterpiece.

Unveiled – Listed on AMP as ‘ISIS Unveiled’ by Watchman and Trixal, this is so damn boppy.  Ok, so I’m going to be (uncharacteristically) geeky here and mention that there is a part of this song at exactly 32 seconds in (and at 2:39) where there is an orchestra hit line that sounds chopped up and I’m sure that is not how it is supposed to sound.  Many, many years ago I had a Soundtracker player on the PC that ran under DOS (so required a Sound Blaster compatible sound card) and when it played this track that part sounded completely different.  Instead of each note being chopped, they all blended into each other with some pitch bending, and frankly it sounded bloody fantastic.  I have never found another player that did it the same way.  Maybe it was serendipity (you need to watch it).  I’ll try and search out the modplayer in question, but I think it is on a 5 1/4 inch disc at my parents so we’ll see …

Similarity – So we come to the end of our journey, at least for now.  Composed in 1997, this contains 16 bit samples (and I sit here in 2010 and 16 bit samples are still the norm, and with MP3s the quality of music in terms of fidelity has decreased, but that is a topic for another time).  Unsurprisingly no mention of this on AMP, as it has moved firmly outside the Amiga realm, but it mentions being composed by ‘LX’.  I assume this is not Alex Paterson so it must be someone else.  You can tell it is a more recent track as it contains dire copyright notices as well, but I think I am ok as I am not making money from this, but then again IANAL.  Damn, I’ve always wanted to say that … IANAL, IANAL.

Note: this is an Impulse Tracker module, so rename it to .it rather than .mod before you try and play it otherwise your computer will explode in a fireball and almost certainly send a spark into your eye.

This track is supremely spacey and delicate and has all my favourite bits in it …

I hope something has rubbed off on you, but I guess like so many things most of the enjoyment is from the nostalgia.  You just had to be there …

Then again, I wasn’t there.  I never owned an Amiga or Commodore 64.  To this day I have never played Monty Mole.  I have to thank friends like Alex, Glen and Tank-top Tony (poor bastard recorded heaps of mods for me from his Atari ST onto tape and I used to listen to them on my walkman.  Luckily he got a kick out of it too so it wasn’t such a chore) for letting me watch demos and play Superfrog on their Amigas.

Ultimately, to me I love this music so much because it strips it down to its essence.  You had to make something sound good with only four tracks – no room to chuck in random crap that just hides the fact you have no musical ability.  No room for over production or vocals that you only include because of a vain hope of getting into the Top 40.  If your idea sucked then it was laid bare for all to see.

With that thought, I might put on some Monolake and go to bed.  I looove Monolake.  Only minimal when listened at a superficial level.  The best music is music that rewards the listener – you put the effort in to listen and the music gives back in sounds and feelings that tickle the sensitive, rarely used parts of your auditory system.  Or something …

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