Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Fire a Blog

Friday saw the debut of Super Smash Compo, a co-operative composing competition. The organizer Obtuse acknowledged the influence of Doubles’ Dash in terms of concept, but wished to have a compo where vocals are optional. In an effort to follow these rules, I asked fusion2004 to record spoken word with me to form a joint introduction. Fusion went on to collaborate with Obtuse and created the first proper tune of the night, funk punctuated by trumpet stabs and synth melodies. Andy Kelley dashed in to submit an electro beat, apparently teaming with up his alias superjoe. An Obtuse track was put up at the end by Fusion2004 due to upload restrictions at SolidComposer; it serves up dance in ¾ time, an unusual meter for the genre.

On Saturday the Grand Robot Master Remix Battle reached the third round submission deadline of the Proto Man Bracket. WillRock’s take on the Elec Man and Napalm Man themes offers subdued electronica and tremolo-tinged lead, occasionally changing over to plucking and doubling the snare rhythm. Main Finger’s fake-out chip intro gives way to an upbeat Street of Rage nod complete with accented piano chords, slowing things down halfway for organ support and brass hits. Neblix squashed the beginning of his arrangement of Plug Man and Jewel Man, and then opens up a can of frantic beats and guitar shredding. Finally pixelwave let loose a group of delay-affected instruments along with pads, twangs and distant metal clanging.

Lazy Sunday Compo had perhaps the most specific theme ever used on SolidComposer: “The Electric Eel”. I played up the suspense in the narrative in my vocal introduction. Clockwerk took note of the buzzing sound mentioned in the theme summary and included grating noise in his chilled minimal entry. MaliceX stopped working on his track partway through the round, submitting a self-described “wip sketch” of lo-fi trippyness. AkogareZephyr made a rare compo appearance with mellow electronic containing a whisper increasing in volume. Clunkst wrote a tension-filled 8-bit track with a description simply stating “noises”. Jarski’s tune builds unsettling intensity using a discordant melody followed by the beat drop, and then dances away for the remainder. swordofdestiny tended to company as the night went on, and put up a small “Eeliscious” club riff. Rounding things out was liquidwind, who made a groove-based set of loops, pads and playful sonorities.

JHCompo on Tuesday featured a “One with Nature” theme depicting the situation of moving away from civilization to live among the shrubbery. After my read-through of the description, MandraSigma offered a follow-up introduction acknowledging the one preceding it. null1024’s distorted lead is carried along with acoustic drumming and low pads. liquidwind admitted that he “I pretty much ignored the theme again” and uploaded FM synthesis and an unusual time signature. Xerol joined the party serving up his characteristic orchestral entry, this time with an air of uncertainty in the “Some Kind of Forest” title. coda layered multiple instruments to express his melody in a sparse fashion accompanied by strings and piano. CFX Music’s entry evokes a dirge calling out from the distance and topped with white noise.

Clunkst ran into a “Womping Willow” housing rousing chiptunes and extreme stereo panning. soundshift’s tune supplies a generous amount of field recordings, taking the listener on an ambient trip. MisfitBYTE similarly put up spaced out sounds, but goes further by incorporating vocal clips with the rationale that “Sometimes nature tries to become one with you”. Amphibious’s acoustic guitar playing, piano and drumming meets sounds of the ocean as he went “Beyond the Oasis”. Coincidentally irrelevnt also started with nature effects before going into guitar noodling placed alongside violin and percussion. mv continued the birdsong intro chain, but as a lead-in to his signature tribal percussion, strings and koto. mu begins on the high end of the frequency spectrum and gradually fades in the bass in his entry simply titled “z”. Finally chunter made use of vintage drum machine samples and lead guitar to set a relaxed mood.

The theme for Thursday’s One Hour Compo was “water bridge” though this wasn’t immediately clear when I recorded my soliloquy. Instead participants were given a news blurb and photo to work with for the night. dusthillguy threw up a blend of jangly chords and pedal-affected lead creating a constant sense of disorientation. Dyne delivered one self-proclaimed "bar of BS" of a Castlevania tune on synth keys. Forty-Two laid down a bed of cellos, brushed drums and a flurry of flute, guitar and bass. sci injected fear into the night's theme by bringing up the possibility of bridge collapse with his otherwise chilled electronic tune.

Arcana again discovered a groove with his OHC entry while lifting elements from Haddaway. DDRKirby(ISQ) went for the lo-bit route as his chords ebb and fade, then settle into a beat. jarski apparently subscribed to the same philosophy as fellow composers RAMPKORV and dusthillguy for the song title and description of his synthesized entry. Late but not least was munchi, who chose the arduous task of "Crossing the Great Divide" bringing along woodwinds and dropping the funky drum loops to wraps things up.

I’m amazed that the compo community has spread out so far over the years. At one point in the past, it seemed as if everyone was compressed into one spot on the calendar. Then life happened: people's schedules shifted and everyone found their own space. In that way, it's like graduating from school.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Composer Spotlight on Brandon Strader

I asked Brandon Strader some questions about his recent release Always Remember, an original album developed in a two-year period and covering a diverse selection of styles. It is the follow-up to his 2008 album Life and features guest artists from the fan arrangement community. He described his experience working on Always Remember as an "emotional rollercoaster", though he was quick to cross out or miniaturize this phrase in promotional materials.

Brandon joined OverClocked ReMix at around the age of 15, in 2001. “It was Final Fantasy VII that got me interested in game music back in 1998, and I submitted and failed a Kingdom Hearts remix in 2001, so... OCR can be directly linked to me using and learning Fruity Loops to say the least! But without that knowledge, I wouldn't be where I am today.” He made a number of connections through the community and culled talent for his Teen Agent arrangement album The Root of All Evil, released in 2010.

The download package for Always Remember includes photos of various collaborators on the album. Brandon explained, “I just tossed 'em in so people could see if they wanted. The pictures are also on the trailer on YouTube.” All the guests featured on the album are members of OverClocked ReMix: Michelle Kwan goes by the handle rhapsodos; Beth Carter releases works under the name Wildfire; and Deia Vengen is DragonAvenger, an OCR judge.

Daniel Lippert, better known in the arrangement community as Usabell, was responsible for the drumming on Always Remember. Brandon had contacted him in the initial stages of development. “I had some ideas and sent him full MIDIs of the songs once they were written so he could play drums... Most of the songs weren't even written at the time. It's been a couple years but I remember asking him pretty early on, if not the first thing then pretty close.” Brandon was also very accepting of Daniel’s feedback. “I'd take it from Usa. He's already helped me a ton with learning some production tricks.”

Brandon’s interest in the community extended to composition competitions. One of his first One Hour Compo entries made quite an impression in 2009. In “My Kitty” he sang about a kitten being his favorite thing, and he meowed on microphone using AutoTune. He went on to pitch-control an actual cat with the Antares software in another entry, continuing an apparent feline theme. For compo he later wrote “Out of Control” that also deals with animals, depicting chaos in the forest and all the wildlife eating each other. Comical munching and growling can be heard under the layered guitar work.

He eventually reworked "Out of Control" as a song for Always Remember. Brandon reached out to Ben “bjkmenu” Kimble to redo the vocal, and he happily obliged. “He really wanted to do it ‘cause he loved that song. [The tracks] ‘I See’ and ‘Thankful’ also have bits from OHC. I wrote stuff that I thought was fun or nice, and they became full songs.”

As the name implies, the song “For My Parents” was created with Brandon's mother and father in mind. “I made it for my parents with my 7-string guitar. I think it's the first solo I ever recorded with it, nice whammy bar usage in it. It's almost like a Dragon Ball Z stand-off song. […] I may make more songs in that style on future albums (For My Parents Part 2?) and have them all link together stylistically.”

The album is dedicated to the memory of Brandon’s great grandmother Maxine Strader, as well as Gregory Burr. He was “a cousin who shared my birthday, but was older, a father of a good friend who had a newborn baby at the time he passed.” Brandon noted that the album itself carries a somber tone in some of its tracks. Always Remember is his first mass-produced album, and is limited to 100 physical copies. It is free to download from Bandcamp, and both the CD and digital version contain tracks exclusive to each other.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finite Water Droplets

Friday marked the return of Doubles’ Dash Compo after being in hiatus for several months. Round 10 was declared MILESTONE ED, a truncated form of milestone edition. I offered my standard narration intro, which was disqualified since I recorded it alone. Level 99 and Wildfire co-created the hooky pop-rock song “If I Were a Dinosaur” with both members serving vocal duty for Level 99’s production. Obtuse’s un-tiss complemented Cyril the Wolf’s singing in “You Know…” breaking down halfway for layered murmuring. I sought out Xarnax42 and recorded a stream-of-consciousness speech, which became the basis for his ambient production “We didn't not enter. We win!”

Beigh effectively outperformed me with his combination of spoken word and singing, backed by Jakesnke17’s beat. mv served up his trip-hop and stepped up to the mic to perform alongside Wildfire’s choral harmonies, arguing that “reality isn't real”. As an act of spontaneity near the end of the submission stage, I showed AkogareZephyr a partially lyricized demo of me singing that she used as a vocal guide for what became “Before You Speak”. As Team Two Guys, One MIDI Controller, Fusion2004 and bjkmenu professed their love for burgers with piano, guitar and synth-laden waltz.

Saturday was the Grand Robot Master Remix Battle submission deadline for the third round of the Mega Man Bracket. All four entrants for the bracket successfully sent their entries along before the time ran out. TheGuitahHeroe did a dance-fied take on the Bubble Man and Heat Man themes garnished with chip sounds of the past. Sir_NutS’s “Encapsulated Heat” continues his retro streak, going for vintage vocoded electro that would not be out of place in a 80s club. prophetik offered a somber arrangement, putting together strings and harp with a pulse of acoustic drumming, shakers and layers of synthesizers. At the end of the bracket Hylian Lemon paid tribute to Hard Man and Spring Man using spacey arps, Theremin and lo-fi glitch beats next to flute and violins.

Lazy Sunday Compo went off to a slightly confused start as two instances of round 3 had been set for the night. One had a Father’s Day-based theme as the compo fell on the U.S. observance of the holiday; the other instance covered “The Overworld” as its topic. After being directed toward the correct one and doing my vocal intro for it, I went over to the alternate and recorded a narration for that one as well. mv shared “Fond Memories” using synth arpeggio and robust vocals accompanied with piano, strings and degraded drums. Jacob summoned exotic acoustic plucking into his entry, inviting listeners to journey through the jungle with a variety of ethnic percussion. Clockwerk uploaded a minimal techno blend of TR-808 and various pitched tones for “The Explosive BBQ”.

Pongball’s brief entry displays a whimsical tickling of the ivories, flute and wind chimes. Arcana’s opening kick-hihat pattern and violin expands with piano chords, snare and tom fills, adequately providing a backdrop for “The Last, Sweet Dance”. swordofdestiny sent off a series of horns for a somber orchestral tribute to his late father. Xarnax42 initially composed his bubbly, overworld-themed track for the alternate round 3, and then moved the tune to the correct page. liquid wind created two one-hour compositions and uploaded the second, an ambient set of airy pads and steady beat. Steam Dreams carried piano and acoustic strumming as he reminisced about his father attempting to teach him to appreciate baseball.

On Monday, People’s Remix Competition 196 reached its deadline with a trio of entries. The source tune came from Shinobi II and was selected by first-time PRC participant Amphibious, the winner of the previous round. Inrade submitted his first entry, a chilled out electronic take on the composition that he felt was developed on impulse rather than predetermination. toilet goat called upon tribal drums for his arrangement evoking eastern influences and fleshing things out with guitar shredding, all within the space of 38 seconds. Xsquader stated that he found the material difficult to work with, but nevertheless delivered a pounding dance remix and distorted rock solo.

For JHCompo on Tuesday I chose the “Fever” theme, but initially forgot to record an intro track for it. MandraSigma managed to put his extensive bass entry in first, prompting me to acknowledge this in my narration immediately after. The beginning of coda’s “dog disease” brings to mind THX’s famous “Deep Note” joined with a disaccord of various sounds. Jakesnke17 expressed a trip filled with hallucinations and impediments via glitch-tinged electro. bjkmenu showed off his guitar with his tune per usual, this time expressing “big daddy cain fever”. mv got down with “The Sickness” implementing his brand of trip-hop, singing the repeated line: “I don't want to feel so dead again...”

CFX Music was convinced that it was “ALl In YoUR HeAD” utilizing panning, compressed tones and distortion that falls away in favor of ambiance and coughing. chunter’s dance tune made use of Haruka Nana, a voicebank he programmed to sing “give me fever” among other things. Txai brought in the ghosts of the Sega Genesis with his short-but-rousing “nightmare headdy”. irrelevnt’s rock n’ roll interpretation of the theme contains heavily overdriven vocals, ending with breathing and an organ solo. mu submitted an electronic tune including elements of salsa and wah-affected melodies, topped off with crashing keyboard chords. The dark mood of soundshift’s track is steadied by a dance rhythm and generous helpings of cowbell. Finally Beigh’s heartbeat leads to piano ambience broken up with industrial percussion.

Trippycompo on Wednesday was based on a larger samplepack than usual, totaling over five megabytes. The pack contained a wide selection of bass sounds that MandraSigma had featured in his JHCompo entry the previous day, as well as the repeated spoken line “I love moltres.” Jakim’s entry logically puts the speech over the bass playing for his “Whatta” entry whilst fashioning a melody out of other clips. MandraSigma worked up a danceable beat, slowed down the moltres line and ran through a light piano-like riff. coda also stuck the speech within a flurry of arpeggiation in a little over half a minute. Shinyboom sped up the love for moltres in “Articuno's Lullaby”, employing a series of glitchy and discordant effects. passing_by’s “8192 hr sleep deprivation” seemingly goes through every sample in the pack, falling just short of two minutes and rounding out the edges of the compo that night.

The theme for Thursday’s OHC was "Stranded", and I decided to change things up by including a clip of the compo organizer starla speaking in my spoken-word intro. Tomapella's track rolls in the waves with e-piano, violin lead and soft drumming. Suzumebachi pushed his electro tune as quickly as his 56k modem would allow and worked in a climactic 3-4-5-1-8. Fusion2004 composed a solo piano piece in the final 15 minutes of the round. Bren typed up an alternative theme description to accompany his signature synth chord structures. jarski used the summary space to post a squirrel in a vending machine, and let the breakbeats do the talking. As he was "Stuck in the Middle of 500 Synths" sci had no choice but to be subjected to "something loud" and derisive laughter, surrounded by loosely jointed cacophony.

DDRKirby(ISQ)'s ambient entry evokes "Madness" before laying down hip-hop and eventually stomping dance. Arcana similarly starts off with one genre and layers in another, in his case an orchestra with four-on-the-floor. Destroid pondered the possibility of being stranded at the base of Rampkorv Industries and heightens this notion with frenetic electronics. dusthillguy brings along his FM snare and pitched voice-like tones, yelling out a certain part of the male anatomy. Despite his illness, mv submitted yet another vocal entry backed up by strings and funky drums. At the end of the listening party, munchi sampled various Batman-related dialogue and dropped the big beat with lo-bit chords.

For my Doubles' Dash stream-of-consciousness entry, one of the many random things I uttered was "finite water droplets". I can only imagine how amusing it would be if the weather forecast was announced this way. It's not nearly as strange as saying, for example, "cloudy with a chance of artichokes".

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When I Blog You

On Saturday the Grand Robot Master Remix Battle at OC ReMix reached the second round of the Proto Man Bracket. All entrants for the bracket successfully submitted their tracks before the submission deadline. WillRock dipped synth arpeggios in echo for his “Bleets of Lightning”, bringing in soaring harmonies ¼ of the way in and complementing the source material with an e-solo. fredrikd accompanied the familiar Elec Man theme with acoustic strumming, strings and horns for his entry along with lead guitar noodling for Sheep Man. Chernabouge sent along a cinematic orchestral take that suggests he likes the smell of Napalm Man and Crash Man in the morning.

Main Finger’s remix filters its way into a throbbing beat with piercing trance leads, operatic vocal, a glitch section and rock guitar solo. Jakesnke17 starts off using heavily affected drums, widening things with a breakbeats and fat bass. Neblix paid tribute to Plug Man and Snake Man by offering layers of pads and hyperfast drums supporting a group of melodies set somewhere in the reverberated distance. pixelwave’s steady hi-hat and sub-bass form the peak and lowest points of his tripped out sonic spectrum, “The Toad Gang’s Heist”. Finally AeroZ used a synthetic drone to begin his tune, and then dropped in start-and-stop electro for the Toad Man and Jewel Man themes.

Lazy Sunday Compo held its second round for an enthusiastic if small crowd. My vocal recording of the night’s “Hope Within Chaos” theme contained more white noise than usual, as I spoke near an open window at the spur of the moment. Amphibious’s ringing low end is disrupted by reverse cymbal followed by piano and electronic elements, steadied by a sparse kick and snare. eilios put up synthesizer chords broken up by cymbal rides and settles on a swing-beat for the duration of the piece. Xarnax42’s entry is a scattered selection of woodwinds, brass and percussion that builds to cacophony of discordance resolving somewhat in its middle section.

On Monday, Soundevotion Competition round 58 met its submission deadline. With an optional “uplifting music” theme, the round featured a sample pack including a wide selection of instruments such as bass, woodwinds, tuba and a TR-808. chunter’s entry begins with filtered drums and industrial hooks giving rise to a steady dance beat and distorted lead. Hiss occurs for the first few seconds of keith303’s track, growing in intensity as a minimal percussive groove dominates the aural space. A cymbal crash cuts to the chase of Knetter’s tune and wastes no time to establish a mood of growling horn and dubstep influences. Marko went for a soft mixture of oboe, orchestral percussion and flute, building harmony with acoustic twangs and layers of melody. Shadowbane’s thudding bass notes support e-chords, shaker loops and high frequency riffs, ending with a series of splashes to round out the entries.

JHCompo on Tuesday was again welcome to a wide selection of participants, with over a dozen in attendance despite persistent site glitches. The theme of “The Buzz” may or may not have been inspired by the medication I was taking after I had undergone oral surgery earlier in the day. Following my gauze-muffled spoken word, Dash put up a set of violins pronounced by punchy drums, pianos, piercing organ and an undertone of wub-wub-wub. RAMPKORV created a brief foray into off-piste jazz with clarinet, e-piano and a distinct high end of distortion. Amphibious took a swinging journey “Down by the Lake”, noting that the music might have been influenced by an excess of Animal Crossing playtime. Dj RoboRob described his entry as a blend of electro, fidget house and chiptune, with the rationale that the “buzzybassline is in keeping with the night’s theme.

MisfitBYTE offered three minutes of avant-garde and ambient instrumentation lapsing into moments of chillout. chunter’s up-tempo funk is centered on a constant bass riff, and occasionally breaks into a second section. irrelevnt settles into acoustic strumming at the outset of his tune, padding out the empty corners with hand percussion before introducing a drumkit. ShinnyMetal felt that his composition was “QuiteSimple” using detuned electric piano, light pads and lo-bit melodic improvisation. CFX Music’s harsh lead lines meet up with hi-hat patterns and a stomping dance beat. Totaling under a minute, nysnamovois constructed an entry out of an assortment of Kirby’s Dream Land 3 samples. Finally Jarski took a page out of RAMPKORV’s book when titling his track and submitted a chip-centric sendoff for the listening party.

The theme for Thursday's OHC, "The Sacrifice" was inspired by a charity song by Big Giant Circles titled "You Can Have Mine". After my read-through of the theme summary, BrandonS put up recorder-flute drenched in effects for his "Turning Japanese" entry. Due to a scheduling conflict, CJthemusicdude was unable to participate and uploaded a clip from his worksite in order to explain his circumstances via the description field. OCRE made an "Offering to the Volcano God" using tribal drums, male choir and electronic lead. Obtuse chose to appreciate nature with a drum machine, dulcimer and the sound of falling water. diotrans appeared following a significant absence with an a capella performance of layered harmonies and lyrics. sci's composition features a lengthy buildup leading to an upbeat, chippy end section.

Arcana continued the lo-fi vibe with a constant kick and his vow to "save the city... again!" Amphibious settled for a minor key and oboe backed by strings, piano and hand percussion. Bren typed up an indecipherable blurb for his entry and showed off his usual moody combination of guitar chugs and synth arps. Jakesnke17 used the theme to display his philanthropic side, serving up chiptunes for a cause and topping things off with violins and drums. Fusion2004 joined the compo with some 8-bit melodies of his own in a rare appearance. With a surprised emoticon, jarski underwent "mechanization" including an acid bath and rigorous sub-bass treatment. At the end of the party mv exercised his vocal talents for a trip-hop ballad with a fair share of string sections and rolling guitar.

As the entrants mulled over the compo entries they were composing, I joked that simply appearing that night was deserving of an "A" for effort. After hearing the kinds of compositions that people here are capable of, I give them a hearty "A+".

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Next Generation

The Grand Robot Master Remix Battle at OverClocked ReMix continued on Saturday as the submission deadline for Mega Man Bracket Round 2 was reached. Of the eight people set for the round, six successfully submitted their remixes before the deadline. TheGuitahHeroe’s combination of Bubble Man and Pump Man builds a rising ambiance with arpeggios that leads to a steady dance kick. Sir_NutS took the vocoded electro route with “Total Eclipse of the Sun”, a remix of Heat Man and Shade Man that would make Giorgio Moroder proud. The springing sounds in Brandon Strader’s entry punctuate layers of violins, followed by the inclusion of rock drums, guitars and flute.

Guitaring is also apparent in prophetik’s arrangement of the Spring Man and Splash Woman themes, along with strings and piano eventually accompanied by a funky beat and a bongo-filled interlude. Hylian Lemon continued the acoustic strumming streak with his “Save a Horse (Ride a Transformer)” emphasizing the off-beat for a reggae-like vibe, but switching to a more conventional rhythm at the halfway point. At the end of the bracket PrototypeRaptor unleashed his technorchestral “Hardly Clubbed to Death”, a blend of Nitro Man and Hard Man that could probably turn heads, or at least Rob Dougan’s.

Lazy Sunday Compo debuted at SolidComposer this week, providing a place for entrants who may not be able to attend competitions on other days. The theme was “The Beginning”, which inspired me to record a spoken-word rendition of my song of the same name. Amphibious delivered delay-affected piano accompanied by woodwind, paving the way for electronica. liquid wind’s pads are joined by earthy percussion loops, pan flute and layered with a synth drumkit. Due to a technical error, Steam Dreams uploaded a one-second entry consisting of a segment of violins. Another flub occurred with Xarnax42, who submitted two instances of his ambient entry. swordofdestiny went for moodness in his track “Onto Our Epic Journey” before dropping acid bass and a marching rhythm to go with an extended melody. MandraSigma faced the quandary of segueing to and from dubstep in his attempt to “Race the Sun”.

The Monday deadline for People’s Remixing Competition 195 was met with a larger-than-usual turnout. The Metal Gear spinoff Snake’s Revenge was chosen as the source tune for the round; incidentally an arrangement at OC ReMix is titled “Snake’s Revenge”, but is actually a remix of Metal Gear. Amphibious put up a rock take on the material embellished with synthesizer work and a mellow piano-backed section. Mizu recorded an electronic keyboard entry that picks up speed one third of the way in. Chevamiah implemented Daft Punk and dubstep influences for his remix, displaying vintage e-drum sounds and interplay between various synth instruments. The winner of the previous PRC round toilet goat submitted a bonus entry of trance featuring echoed claps. Gilleece’s track opens with strings, and then adds piano before smash-cutting to a rapid dance beat. marcusg completes the circle of entries with a hip-hop iteration of the tune, “Snake for fun”.

Tuesday’s JHCompo encountered a few website glitches, most particularly lag in the chat window. Despite the problems, the night brought in a dozen participants. I chose the “Hyperdrive” theme specifically due to the wide appeal of futuristic space settings for compos. After my quick read-through of the description, OverCoat initiated the “Warp to Zero!” using a set of emulated Sega Genesis instruments. liquid wind saw fit to make a song about “space cats” reminiscent of eastern ethnic music, lifted up with a drum machine. coda’s frantic “hyperfartX” drew comparison to Metal Gear Solid and features its own vocal narration of the night’s theme. Xarnax42 offered an appropriately spacey tune with dynamic arps and airy pads.

mv mixed roaring engines into his entry, characteristically using a broad spectrum of orchestral components and synths. Clockwerk called upon the “Interplanetary Space Police” with a rolling groove and gradually added electronic layers. ShinnyMetal showed off a lo-bit bassline, distortion and high pitched melodic lines. Jarski’s deliberately-flatted intro opens up to a wealth of un-tiss and chip-like harmonic elements. nysnamovois continued the oldskool video game vibe with his “Hard Wired” entry, which due to a site glitch was followed by over two minutes of silence. After the unintentional intermission, newcomer MisfitBYTE had his moment in the sun by putting up a loosely jointed collection of musical sounds. At the end of the listening party, MattInc fled through a “Wormhole” filled with subtle pads, low thumping and repeating motifs.

Trippycompo on Wednesday featured four entrants and a samplepack. The pack contained a variety of pitched clips as well as a song fragment and bits of percussion. bw offered up a bouncy composition with a song-like multiple section structure. MandraSigma submitted a laidback take on four-on-the-floor rhythm with cascading arpeggio. Storlek made prominent use of the song fragment from the samplepack, stuttering it to generate a tripped out effect. Finally GreaseMonkey’s “slow song” belied its name by being noticeably up-tempo, playing out sustained chords at a flat decay rate.

The theme for Thursday's OHC was "Larger Than Life", and in an unusual move included a description written as if part of dialogue. I used this as an opportunity to do a bit of voice acting for my entry. RAMPKORV's unabashedly obscene song title sets the mood for a minute of tickling the ivories. Forty-Two longed for a one-and-a-half-hour compo, but managed to upload an swingy tune with piano and violins tailed off by ambiance. DarkSim made it to the "Top of the World" with the help of elevated breakbeats. sci's e-piano intro leads the way to a chaotic assortment of styles, beats and a vocal clip. Arcana lays strings and synth to impart "My sadness on the world". In a self-proclaimed return to his roots, cyrilthewolf submitted a rock entry accompanied by an extended rap and metal singing. jarski followed up with corrosive bass and punchy drums. mv chose to express his "Badassery" via the power of chiptunes, slowing down the tempo to a crawl to end the track.

Ever since I’ve started blogging the compo experience, I’ve noticed there's been a new wave of sorts in terms of participants. A significant number of new names have joined the community while others has been absent. People come and go, but the huge amount of talent displayed remains the same.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Under Pressure

Saturday was home to a number of competitions, some of which suffered from deadline delays or disappeared entirely. The Grand Robot Master Remix Battle at OverClocked ReMix actually raised an issue about entrants beginning work on their remixes early, but the matter was settled on the condition of assuming good faith. Out of the 16 people who signed up, 15 successfully submitted tracks for the Proto Man Bracket. DusK started his entry off with a shredded rendition of Elec Man with synth melody that segues into Wood Man on lead guitar. The honky-tonk piano intro of WillRock’sWoodChipper” leads to synthesizer arpeggios and acoustic drums. Geoffio used choir and church organ for “Sheep in Skulls Clothing”, blending Skull Man and Sheep Man and rocking the drums with harpsichord. fredrikd went to “Where Sheep Go to When They Die” breezing though Sheep Man and Skull Man with electronics and cymbal crashes.

chroxic sent along a quick “GnB” entry covering Gravity Man and Crash Man. Chernabouge’s track begins with bass playing the familiar line from Crash Man before breaking out electric guitar and then switching over to Gravity Man. Main Finger followed current trends by submitting a dubstep-tinged arrangement of the Napalm Man and Chill Man themes utilizing heavy compression. Rozovian delivered the unusual meal of “Ice Cream Nachos”, a dance tune working together Chill Man and Napalm Man. Jakesnke17’s “Switchable Fangs” brought along funkified percussion joined with strings, woodwinds and synthesizers, ending with solo piano. The defiant declaration “I am Blade Man” opens Cyril the Wolf’s track “Slice the Snake” setting the tone for e-harmonized vocals singing over thrashing drumming, followed by metal screams for Snake Man.

Xarnax42 chose to “Plug into the Order of the Groove” and served up a loosely connected set of instruments interpreting Knight Man and Plug Man in varying tempos. Neblix’s “Power Plant in the Kingdom” marries drum and bass with gasping sounds, an array of synths and acoustic plucking. pixelwave’s trip-hop entry features string sections, a pervasive bass tone and distant, reverberated twanging along with a degraded breakdown. Geeky Stoner belied his namesake by creating a sober electro remix of Flash Man, bringing in elements of Toad Man as the song progresses. At the end of the bracket, AeroZ's “Jumping Flash” uses a flatted intro as the quiet before the pulsing dance storm of Toad Man meets Flash Man.

The listening party for Dwelling of Duels took place on Sunday. It featured “Sony Month” as a theme, which coincidentally had been chosen before the PlayStation Network security debacle. Kefka’s Chrono Cross arrangement “A Tiny Dragon” settles on acoustic guitar layered with electric lead playing. Brandon Strader and Rexy teamed up to create “Hogging Molly”, a stomping take on Crash Bandicoot alternating between 2/4 and 4/4 time signatures. Greg felt there was “No Need to Hurry” with his Dark Cloud 2 remix with overlaid takes of acoustic-electric strumming. Lost in Magicant submitted a rendition of a Final Fantasy VII tune mixing together a drum loop, wind chimes, an ominous breeze and lead guitar, ending with traces of string pads. Paragon works the bass at the start of his Final Fantasy Tactics entry, and then coasts though a multitude of rhythmic patterns amidst guitar lines.

Ambient pads lie under electric chugging in jvincion’s “Wanderlust in a Burning Soul” covering Final Fantasy X. thesamareaye led a “Railway Chase” paying tribute to Mega Man X4 with keyboard synths and panned guitaring. Scaredsim’s was the first of two Okami arrangements for the round, deciding to “Follow the Wolf” using tickled ivories and lead licks playing off of each other. The second Okami rendition came from Pumpkin King with his solo piano excursion “Kaguya’s Journey”. Daniel Alm’s Resident Evil remix brings a quiet bubbling to the surface and nimbly noodles the lead with soft-styled drumming, then crashes into a louder section. A pair of Silent Hill tracks round out the Sony theme: Skummel Maske’s “Empty Promises” deftly goes through guitar arps while tibone’sOverdosis Fatalis” throws a wah pedal into the mix.

For Tuesday’s JHCompo I chose “The Heat” as the theme to reflect the concurrent humid weather I was experiencing. Following my vocal read-through of that description, MandraSigma submitted a bouncy, tinny composition including various screaming voices. OverCoat sensed the hotness with gloomy “Calor” using arpeggios and stereoized pads. mv’s dynamic electronics were put through the glitch treatment alongside steeldrum-like synths and violins as he ravaged the “Burning Landscape”. coda defied all theme expectations by making an energetic dance track about a dog volcano. Finally Dash served delay-affected arps, frenetic hi-hat patterns and fat drumming.

Trippycompo occurred on Wednesday, centered on a samplepack. The pack contains a collection of drum clips and tones, including an organ-sounding loop and electric guitar. bw’sfriendlyfatman” assumes a sparse beat until speeding up and using the organ for a breakdown. trough submitted “lalala”, a 7-second rendition of ATC’s “All Around the World”. nysnamovois’s “smack” delves into a funky rhythm before rocking out with the guitar sample. MandraSigma entered a danceyspacetavern” with 30 seconds of riffing. freedrull composed “a trippy dog” with mellowness befitting a kennel, and submitted “xaimoois” as a brief dnb alternative. passing_by put together “Blam! Analhead” and conjured the image of a ticking clock, then progressed with organ stabs and concluded with a holler.

Thursday's OHC featured "High Stress" as a theme, accompanied by a thorough description to incite creativity on the part of the entrants. My "Stress Introduction" uttered that theme with an unusually large amount of breath pauses. RAMPKORV was preoccupied and quickly recorded his keyboard playing for the compo. A wild Garian appeared with a Simpsons quote in his description and glitch-hop in the entry itself. The glitches continued in sci's "that can't be good..." containing forceful basslines. bjkmenu's singing fed through distended echo supported by drums and rhythm guitar. Flexstyle remade his song "A Sense of Urgency" for OHC, displaying dub influences and police sirens in equal measure.

Arcana expressed a "State of Readiness" with a dance beat and slightly detuned organ among other sounds. Usabell's schizophrenic entry and vocal samples brought up comparisons to RAMPKORV and dusthillguy during the listening party. ProjectSpam's mechanized track is punctuated by the repeated line "I'm so stressed right now..." and augmented by bongos. CJthemusicdude's vocoded "CADBFAF" was effectively co-written by starla, since she had suggested the chord progression for him to use. Suzumebachi managed to upload his entry despite a sluggish internet connection, serving up heavily compressed drumming and headbobbing powerchords. DDRKirby(ISQ) came up even later with a whopping 7-minute composition running though various genres and moods.

Fittingly enough, my procrastination on my recent blog post and subsequent catching up served as a stress test of sorts. I really pushed myself to write down the words you are currently reading, and I believe I have grown from the experience. Now I know that, if I really have to, I can cram my writing into an intense session and still come out of the ordeal with a grin on my face.