Revival ST CD
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 c64audio.com. 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-
forum.com, 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
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
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
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
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
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