by gwEm, and Colin too!
I remember having a conversation with gwEm a little while ago, about what
turned out to be this demo, although he didn't explicitly refer to it by
what it was, or when it was going to be released. Confused are you? good
Well he gave a certain amount of clues, particularly when talking about the
artwork. I feel I now know the rather non-scene Colin quite well! But more
of him and his works later, as they say.
Anyway, a pre-Outline '05 release is a very brave move indeed. Following hot
on the heels of 'tYMewarp' and the delayed epic Just Musix 4' from DHS and
friends, Phatt demo is the latest gush in the flood of music disks. There is
no truth in the rumour that the makers of music disks and sprite records are
meeting up in a dark alley to have a "friendly discussion" to decide which
genre is going to be dominant for 2005, but it would be terrific fun to
watch the fight!
To get back on-topic, gwEm has released this music disk featuring some new
and familiar tunes demonstrating the enhanced range of sounds made possible
with his forthcoming 'MaxYmizer' chip tracker.
The presentation is rather basic. There are function keys to select
individual tunes, or the cursor keys to skip along. Each tune has its own
picture and info-scroller helpfully provided. You can find out the cpu time
used by pressing 'tab', and there is even a Bubble Bobble remixed reset
screen, and this works on the Falcon too! Indeed, the whole demo is happy to
run on most flavours of Falcon including CT60, which is extremely nice.
Graphically, the approach taken is somewhat unusual. gwEm has subcontracted
this part of the demo to the markedly non-scene Colin. Colin has done his
best, but you clearly get the feeling that this looks like something done
with very basic tools early in the life of the ST. The likes of Exocet and
C-Rem aren't going to be made redundant overnight. The material has a sort
of sci-fi theme, including one unintentially ironic picture showing the
space shuttle getting zapped by lightning?! (Considering some of the
theories surrounding the demise of the Columbia down to being hit by a form
of space-bound super lightning?)
But leaving the rough charms of the graphics aside, it is the music that we
came for, and this demo has plenty of that!
There are ten tunes, all using the extra sounds and abilities of MaxYmizer,
and with a pleasingly wide range of style and subject.
There are a couple of tunes that we are already familiar with, gwEm's entry
for the big DHS Xmas competition at the end of last year, and also the tune
made for the Outline '05 invitro. But apart from that, there are several new
gWem has not ignored the rich heritage base, coming up with some remixes of
classic old tunes too. At least one Hubbard is in there (Sanxion), bringing
a flavour of the early Exceptions demos in, and a great remix of 'Bangkok
Knights'. For oldschool ST fans, he touches their sensibilities with a
conversion from the 'Ooh Crikey, wot a Scorcher' demo. For something totally
offbeat, there is even a remix from the 'War of the Worlds' album. Now I'm
not sure what Justin Hayward would think, but it sounded great from here!
Ooh Crikey indeed!
I think gwEm has managed to create an entirely new sound. It cannot neatly
be defined as classic YM or C64-style Sid music. It is altogether a
graunchy, dirtier, ball-grabbing sound, which seemingly cannot come from a
bog standard soundchip like the YM2149. In some places, it even manages to
rise above the C64 Sid. There are digi-drums in some of the songs, and then
there are things which sound a lot like digi-drums on first impression, but
they might not be? There is a richness to this sound, which has led people
to comment for the tune on the Outline '05 Invitro, that it sounds more like
a chipsound modfile.
Yes, we'll be hearing a lot more of MaxYmizer over the coming months for
The infoscrollers are worth reading too, one of them goes into some detail
about the strong and weak points of the currently popular chiptrackers.
So we have in Phatt demo, an average menu system with brave attempt graphics
which don't quite make it, all lifted by a large gulp of killer tunes!
The music, oh the music!
A nice mixture of classic and new, no duff tunes.
Wide compatibility, even up to CT60.
Graphics have a naive charm.
A reset screen sneaks in, works on Falcon too.
The graphics style won't appeal to hardened sceners.
Some might think it has a pedestrian and static design.
CiH, for Alive Mag,March '05..