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.

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