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Alive 11
Revival ST CD Review
        The controversial debate about the "Revival ST CD" at Atari-
        Forum made us think about double security in the Alive review of 
        it. So we asked two well known experts and composers to do the 
        job. I guess I don't have to introduce Baggio or DMA-SC to you 
        because you already know them quite well. However for all 
        readers outside of our small scene, Baggio simply loves chip 
        music and DMA is one of the most talented composers of chip 
        music (if only his tracks wouldn't consume so much cpu :).
        However perhaps I should add some words to the now deleted 
        thread about the CD on Atari Forum before the main review 
        starts. I have to admit I never saw the actual thread because it 
        was deleted before it got my attention. It was said to be very 

        Well the debate between Havoc/SH3 and Rafael Dyll started with 
        their opinions on Revival ST, but then what led to strong words 
        was rather his behavior when they tried to explain him why. In 
        fact he looked pretty sure about his view on ST chipmusic being 
        "the correct way", and then couldn't receive strong negative 
        opinions, even though he was asking for some in the first place. 

        The 1st reason for the negative feedback was surely to ask about 
        comments on the short samples extracted from the whole tracks, 
        as a matter of fact those small excerpts don't represent the 
        full tracks too well.

        The 2nd reason for the negative feedback can surely be found in 
        the description of the album itself. Rafael said something like 
        the CD is made "the way the original composers would do these 
        tunes if they were working on modern equipment".

        The 3rd reason can be located in his fast replies to the debate 
        asking if they considered how hard it was to make such a release 
        and to get Richard Karsmakers involved writing the introduction 
        for the CD- booklet (which was apparently suggested by Havoc in 
        the first place) however it was quite out of subject then.

        Also SH3 and Havoc told me that they shared the opinion that the 
        remixes had lost the spirit of an Atari ST chiptune. Personally 
        I can understand that point of view, because in large parts the 
        CD sounds more Amigaish than STish, at least to me. 

        However the debate went quite offending afterwards, partially 
        because Rafael "walled" the comments of SH3 and Havoc, partially 
        because they surely got a kind of angry about that. This was way 
        after the creation of a fake cover for a (non existant) follow 
        up of the ST Revival CD by an unknown scener called blunder^nun 
        based on a comment of Rafael who said "it's all about the 
        melody" or something similar. However all that led to a debate 
        without debate style.

        The picture was perhaps the best thing that came out of that 
        discussion, because it is at least funny :) Well now let's get 
        serious again with a real review about the "Revival STCD".

                                                    Cyclone signing off

        Baggio: Well, this is my poor attempt of reviewing the ST
        Revival cd published by You will notice that i've
        been perhaps a bit more optimistic about certain tunes but
        that's a bit unavoidable since i am a fan of chip-music and i
        have my preferences when it comes to chipmusic. I've tried to be
        fairly impartial though. Please don't let my review stop you
        from buying this cd :), they authors behind it deserve every
        piece of money for their incredible work on this cd.

        DMA: I originaly posted comments about this album on www.atari-, so here his a slightly revised version of these for 

        The tunes have been reviewed in the order they appear on the cd.

1. Scavenger - Odyssey (Arr. Jan Morgenstern)

        Baggio: First of all, i loved the orginal version of this song in the
        Synergy megademo and was a bit surprised they had chosen to make
        a really funky remix of this tune. Even so, i think this remix
        works very well. They've managed to keep the spirit of the song
        and still made it sounds completely different. Only thing i
        reacted is that the song got a bit boring after awhile since it
        doesn't change very much. Could have been shorter.

        DMA: Nice bassline and groove, as well as a globaly interesting 

        The arrangement is pretty faithfull to the original tune 
        structure and progression, adding a cool groove and nice 
        additional parts. 

        I don't like the "kah-kah" voice in the beat though, and it's 
        here through the whole song...

2. Tim Follin - Led Storm (Arr. Rafael Dyll)

        Baggio: A classic tune for sure. It's is very close to the orginal
        version but still the selection of instruments and effects makes
        the tune quite different. It has a slower and much more relaxed
        pace than the original tune and i think i actually like it
        better than the original version. It has kind of a tropical feel
        to it. Highly recommended.

        DMA: Nice calm and synth-upgraded version with a pretty simple 
        beat, there are some variations but it's very light.

3. Scavenger - Dba6 (Arr. Fabian Del Priore)

        Baggio: This is one of my all time favourite chiptunes
        regardless of platform. Ever since i heard the demo-mp3 of this
        tune i wanted to listen to the whole song. This is tune is
        almost untouched and rightfully so. The selection of instruments
        are brilliant and does the original version justice. This is
        among the best tunes on the cd for sure even though it is not
        remixed at all. (I told you i was going to be partial!)

        DMA: A really nice rendition. More of an upgraded version as it 
        follows the original tune structure a lot, the main chords being 
        even rendered as arpeggios and the main lead sounding like SID. 

        There are also some nice additional synth-dance scales in some 
        parts and other nice touches (in the beat mainly).

4. Jochen Hippel - Dragonflight (Arr. Sonic Wanderer)

        Baggio: I actually had problems identifying which of the
        Dragonflight tunes this song was based on but CXT solved that
        little problem for me (it is tune 14). This tune starts of
        almost like Kraftwerks "Radioactivity" and builds up the pace
        from there. The remix reminds me of some classical tunes by
        Jarre and also a variety of other electropop. It could also
        easily been a maintheme for a movie. The arranger has put effort
        into this tune and the result speaks for itself. 2 thumbs up for
        a remix well done.

        DMA: It's a synth-dance arrangement, with all you can expect of
        a transmutation from chiptune to this style, orchestral hits, 
        large chords, voice chords, robotic voices, synth scales.

        I like it, although i don't recall much of the original tune, so 
        i can't really judge the transcription/additions.

5. Dave Rogers - Exolon (Arr. Markus Holler)

        Baggio: I don't think i've ever heard this tune before hearing
        the version of the cd so i actually had to fire up Winjam and
        listen to it. This is by far the most original remix on the cd
        hands down. The arranger has choosen to go with a medieval style
        of the song and it is a very brave choice indeed. The tune
        features alot of real instruments and also male and female
        singing. It has a very clean and beautiful sound to it but
        perhaps it should have been just a wee bit shorter.

        DMA: Nice creative idea, as we got here an arrangement with 
        Celtic instrumentation (flutes, harp, chant). I guess most of 
        the instruments (if not all) have been originally live recorded. 

        There's a long additional intro which sets the mood. And as the 
        original tune is pretty short, it really gets fast out of its 
        original melody and structure, but still uses pieces of it for a 
        nice additional part.

        Perhaps that this tune was based on work originally planed for 
        the Merregnon 2 album, as it could really fit there.

6. Rafael Dyll - Prelude to Xcess (Original)

        Baggio: Not really a song but merely some dark strings and
        distorted text (apparently written by Richard Karsmakers) to set
        the mood for the next song. Nuff' said.

        DMA: It's just a speech intro, so not much to comment here.

7. Jochen Hippel - Lethal Xcess (Arr. Rafael Dyll)

        Baggio: Another classic. I must have heard this tunes 200 times
        before but i still love it. This version has a very aggressive
        and raw feel to it. The thought behind the remix is very good
        but i would have prefered something a bit warmer. When listening
        to the original version it sounds much more smoother. It might
        be that it just too raw for my taste. You can easily hear that
        the author has put in a lot of effort into this tune but for
        some reason i don't like it. Still not a bad remix for those who
        like the original tune.

        DMA: This Track is based on the Lethal Xcess menu tune, and in 
        fact this synth-upgraded version is nice. 

        There are cool variations on chords in the second part, which is 
        not a bad thing since the melody itself is pretty short. 

        The Third part is a mix of original game voices ("drones", 
        "laser", etc...) and some additional music, nice souvenir.

        Later it gets back to the original arrangement.

8. Wally Beben - Foundations Waste (Arr. Sonic Wanderer)

        Baggio: One more tune that i don't think i've ever heard before
        listening to the cd. This naturally meant that i had to listen
        to the original tune in Winjam before writing this review. The
        original tune is not bad but a bit too fast and chaotic for my
        taste. The remix on the other hand is a masterpiece. It sounds
        like anything you'd expect to hear at a danceclub or similar.
        Excellent selection of instruments, nice beat and a very nicely
        paced melody. Me like.

        DMA: Speech / SFX intro getting fast into a synth / techno 
        arrangement of this tune, even with the typical "cut-off" 
        instrument in some parts. 

        The tune is pretty straightforward, then comes a transition 
        leading to a more pumping rendition of the same stuff, "rave" 

        It Reminds me of the Last Ninja arrangement by Instant Remedy, 
        although not as pumping nor raving.

9. Scavenger - Period in 3d (Arr. Jan Morgenstern)

        Baggio: Anyone who has heard this song know that is probably the
        longest chipmusic ever composed on the Atari. (With maybe the
        exception of Tao's UMD-intro music) This remix is about half of
        the length of the original tune, which is about 20 minutes. The
        song starts with a very jazzy, fast-paced beat and goes on from
        there. The jazzy-beat is there through the better part of the
        tune with some variation with about one or two exceptions where
        the theme is more focused on dreamy synth-music.

        The author seems to have choosen his favourite parts of the
        original tune and put it into this remix. I confess to having
        mixed feelings about this song. For some parts the jazzy beat
        feels right but it does get tiring after awhile. People who are
        into the funky style of music will probably love this remix. I
        ike parts of it and strongly dislike others. The remix is very
        professionaly done and might appeal to some people, just not to

        DMA: A surprising electro-jazzy rendition of the tune, which is 
        really cool. 

        You can still spot original parts and melodies. But the original 
        tune lasting twice than the arrangement, some parts have 
        obviously been cut out. I haven't done a one to one comparison 

        There are too many variations to list anything, but the overall 
        progression of the original tune is still there, most parts 
        sounding really different from the others. So we got a super 
        progressive result. 

        The Crapman part is as grand as in the original, maybe even more 
        with the nice acoustic guitar, and that's great. 

        The ending also gives the same "back on earth" feeling as the 
        original, another hit.

        That's the best arrangement on the whole disc for me and the 
        best Atari ST arrangement i've heard so far. Even if not 100% 
        faithful (what I usually prefer), the progressive structure 
        makes it excellent.

10. Chris Huelsbeck - Quick and Silva (Arr. Fabian Del Priore)

        Baggio: Yet another tune that i don't think i've ever heard
        before. I can't even recall ever hearing someone mentioning the
        game to me :) This remix is based on the title theme and in-game
        level 1. The song is more or less divided into two parts where
        the first one is a bit slower. The author has used quite a few
        old analog intruments to make it feel a lot more oldschool
        (according to the booklet that came with the cd :)) He has
        succeded with this. Sometime i could almost imagine this being
        an 8-channel oldschool module (if you disregard the superb
        quality of the sound). The whole tune has a happy, relaxed sound
        to it. Even after 5 minutes, when the tempo goes up a bit, that
        sounds is still there. The song is about 8 minutes long and once
        again i think it could have been a couple of minutes shorter.
        Not a bad remix but not one of my favorites.

        DMA: Wow, this arrangement sounds very much like what you can 
        hear on the Turrican arrange album, or even just in (Amiga) 
        Turrican. And it's not just because it covers a Huelsbeck 

        Though the voices included sometimes makes it sound like other 
        Huelsbeck "non-game-music" studio work... you know... (well if 
        you don't, I think it's for the best ;)

        It really has a big Turrican feeling all over. But it's not a 
        bad thing to my taste anyway. ;) 

        Even the additional parts are similar to the additional parts in 
        the Turrican album arrangements.

11. David Whittaker - Custodian (Arr. Sonic Wanderer)

        Baggio: Wow, here's actually a game i even remember :) The remix
        seems to be based mainly on subtunes 1 and 4 even if i think
        subtune 4 is the center of attention. I would describe this as
        an synth-themed remix with certain electropopish sounds in it.
        The tempo is a bit higher than the original version and also
        feel a bit more cold because of the choosen instruments. The
        melodies in the song are quite happy and makes up a little bit
        for this but i would have prefered something sounding a little
        bit less raw. Still, i managed to keep this song looping while i
        wrote the review so apparently i like it :)

        DMA: Lazer... oups! Synth-dance is back. Nice additional parts, 
        though most are really typical for the style. 

        It's really not the most interesting tune from Custodian to 
        cover in my opinion, the main tune being ten times better but 

        I don't really like the melody of the original (which is pretty 
        much all in the original tune) but if you do, it's there.

12. Rob Hubbard - Jupiter Probe (Arr. Markus Holler)

        Baggio: It is quite interesting how much good gamemusic there is
        out there that i've never encountered before. Makes me think i
        need to go through the entire sndh-collection at some point. The
        song itself is very catchy and soft, kind of like rock'n'roll
        meets synth. This one sticks out a bit from the crowd though
        because of the slap-bass and the real guitar being used. The
        guitarsolo in the middle of the song elevates this from being
        just good, to kick-ass. Also, i could swear i've heard some of
        the synthsounds used in the tune in either some song from Koto
        or Jarre. Me recommends!

        DMA: Really cool cover, synth based but with a great live dist-
        guitar playing a part of the melody and a live bass I think.

        The additional part of the tune is nice as well. 

        It's simply a straight and high quality arrangement.

13. David Whittaker - Goldrunner 2 (Arr. Gianluca Verrengia)

        Baggio: The first thing that will strike you when listening to
        this song is that it sounds a bit like Van Halens song "Jump".
        It's not really the melody but more the synth (Oberheim baby!)
        and the drums. It's a very nice rock'n'roll tune with a bit of
        synth in it. I think it sounds very much like 80's
        hardrock/glamrock. The whole remix is imho very professinonally
        arranged and the guitarplaying really kicks butt. I think i've
        almost would have liked some singing along with this tune but i
        guess you can't have everything :) Kick ass!

        DMA: A live dist-guitar and drums along synths in a really nice 
        metal arrangement.

        Great additional guitar solos and nice tune extension. Pretty 
        much up to some Konami Kukeiha Club arrange work I'd say. 

        It's the second best ST arrangement for me.

14. Kingsoft - Maniax (Vocal edit) (Arr. Dr.Future)

        Baggio: Yay, another tune with some vocals in it! The song is
        based on the title theme from the game Maniax and despite that
        the original tune is only about 10 seconds long the man behind
        this remix, Dr.Future, has managed to make his version about 3
        1/2 minutes long. I really like this tune, it sounds kind of
        like early 90's hardrock mixed togheter with some synth. The
        whole arragement is very melodic and even if the singer isn't
        really world class or anything, his singing blends with the tune
        quite nicely i think. The lyrics is kinda geekish but i guess
        that goes hand in hand with this genre of music :)

        DMA: In this one we got a guy singing alternatively with the 

        Rock style, 100% rock when singing (there's pretty much only 
        drums and guitar in these parts) then heavy synths are in for 
        the cover. 

        I don't like the song at all, but the rest is okay. 

        It's labelled as bonus track on the track list

15. [hidden] Tim Follin - LED Storm ("LED Stormesque")

        Baggio: There is also a "hidden" song on the cd which is a
        really atmospheric, dreamy remix of the first part of the Led
        Storm track. Very relaxing and wonderful to listen to with your
        eyes closed and just dreaming away....

        DMA: That "hidden bonus track" is a dreamy version of LED Storm, 
        lighter than the other one. 

        I like the ambient feeling of this one, but it's really short.


        DMA: So in my opinion we got a really nicely arranged album 
        here, with few big hits along generally nice tracks. 

        I'd recommend it to anyone who like ST music even without being 
        heavily into it (say more than when playing games or watching 
        demos), as the tunes selected are mostly common ones. 

        But you should as well being able to enjoy also most of the 
        styles I've described here (mainly synth-dance, funky-electro 
        stuff and instrumental rock) to enjoy the album, of course.
                                  Baggio and Dma-Sc for Alive, 2005-11-12
Alive 11