Friday, May 25, 2012

Aging Schoolhouse

This week the Sonic Zone Remix Competition saw the siege of the Robotnik Bracket, round 1. For the round, entrants had to remix their previous selected source material, as well as the material of the opponent. As for the storyline, cutscenes explaining the current plot points of the tournament are not available as of this writing. OLRmageddon offered a tantalizing premise for this month’s theme: with “Non-Famous Composers” participants are urged to remix tunes from the unsung heroes of video game music. For a bonus, people could also include the Wilhelm scream so long as they actually do a remix to include it in.

SDCompo further invested in its revisal of it rules by allowing other VSTs that contestants could use. Specifically FreeAlpha, TAL-Elek7ro, MrTramp2, and Delay Lama are available as weapons of choice. Battle of the Bits held a number of compos of its own, including one noting the seventh anniversary of the site. Other competitions held had a variety of colorful titles, including “Pixelz in teh morning coffee” in which pixel art variations of a cup of Joe were created, and the “haven’t tracked in a week, so this week has tracking”, which expectedly features tracker files. 

LLCompo: Battle 18 came across a vast “Wealth”, and according to the ASCII in the description was passed along from one Kirby to another. The round’s introduction narrated by WVI also contained background music by WVI consisting of he own voice. As noted by the intro, the turnout was smaller than usual but nevertheless filled with regulars. Some entrants chose to enumerate their wealth, like liquidwind’s epic lo-fi “75 trillion dollars” and the introduction’s more modest “$18”. Sear on the other hand simply claimed “All of It” before laying down frantic electronics. On the other side of the coin, Delphinus encountered a beggar asking “Spare Some Change” amidst piano, strings, record scratches and a sample of Pink Floyd’s “Money”.

JHCompo on Tuesday hit a milestone with its 100th round, and thus started off with a composite of previous intro narrations before establishing the “Space Station” theme. chunter entered the “Moog Space Century” both honoring the compo and Robert Moog’s birthday. Tomapella’s track brings to mind the brass-heavy electronica of Blast Corps. Kay Faraday brought out a frenetic dance pulse reminiscent of a Mortal Kombat session. Cooling things off was jmr, who offered some of his guitar stylings for an “Abandoned Colony”. Finally swordofdestiny seemed to bring in elements of dubstep, and asked the other entrants to name the song his chord progression came from. 

Thursday’s OHC got a bit old fashioned when it revealed its “Old-School” theme for the night. A-zu-ra apologized for the track he cobbled together whilst waiting in line for Fanime, and promised to make it up later. dusthillguy promptly followed this up with his own “Nads” adequately fitting the theme by using an old sample of my voice. Draconiator spun out a pun by stating that the schoolhouse is crumbling due to its age, and created a brief groove. A number of entrants went the way of hip hop for the night; Obtuse rapped over a funky backing track and live bass; A2Z settled on a kickdrum for rather long time and dropped chordal stabs; and Acuity spat rhymes into what sounded like a paper cup. At the end of the listening party Evdog took a left turn with rapid-fire 12-bar blues, asking “…so this is old school… right?”

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hella Good

People’s Remixing Competition 218 had an unexpected explosion of turnout activity compared to previous rounds. This was to the delight of the organizer Bundeslang and of sggod89, who selected Parasite Eve for others to remix. DjMokram expressed his fond memories of the game, and went to work with an electrified take featuring bits of other themes. hoboka made it in by a hair and submitted a mellow, tripped out version. Sir_NutS took a more electro route while PRC newcomer Trism settled on ambience. Meccaneer displayed his nostalgia via a searing piano lead and lo-fi accompaniment, and then sped things up toward the end. Obtuse and Chickenwarlord both chose to go for fast-tempo outing, with the latter entrant also incorporating Aya's theme. Sggod89 wasn’t one to hang back on the source material he picked, so he submitted a bonus entry that sampled a clip from the film Event Horizon.

The Sonic Zone Remix Competition reached the voting stage for round 1 of the Sonic Bracket, and thus unleashed a batch of Sonic the Hedgehog remixes. At 15 entries, the collection of arrangements could serve as an album its own right, and comes with its own artwork. The nearing deadline for the Robotnik Bracket promises just as large a turnout. Over at Dwelling of Duels it was decided to call upon turtle power with TMNT Month. As a bonus, participants could remix a specific few Ninja Turtles themes for a chance to be included in an OverClocked ReMix album: Shell Shocked. Those with the highest ranked entries would go on to be part of the project.

LLCompo: Battle 17 gave a brief shout out to Mother’s Day in the theme description, but plunged ahead into the depths of “The Jungle”. kfaraday’s introduction narrated by WVI wonders why the scenario was chosen, asked that the night be dedicated to dogs instead, and points out that a reading is unneeded when all the entries have already been created. A pair of tracks related to savages took the lead, with Oh Buddism’sCannibalismo” layering various acoustic elements and Delphinus’ having “Dinner with Cannibals” overhearing a conversation about meat. The night also had a fair amount of animal-related songs: PowerFail expressed his “Monkey Trouble” by way of slamming rock riffs while Smooth Suck asked simply “Why did the lion get lost?”

JHCompo on Tuesday dealt with the “Sudden Fame” of being an Internet star. With that in mind, chunter made a funk ballad about “Monsters” neglecting to provide context and thus leaving it open to interpretation. liikwiid also seemed to be puzzled by the theme and went ahead with kalimba experimentation. After a quick intermission by Duosis, the round continued madbrain who went for an eighties television show vibe about “Famous Ghosts”. SonicThHedgog did a quick YouTube search for a guitar solo and delivered upon it with expected wankery. Finally Clockwerk converted fame into “F['n l]ame” for a short but effecting bit of couch electronica.

Thursday’s OHC chose “To hell and back” as its theme, arising suspicion that the organizer was away playing Diablo III during the round; that thought was later confirmed. LOLitslewis started off with a parody of Tenacious D’s song “Tribute”, which itself is a tribute to the greatest song in the world. A2Z preceded his somber track with a laundry list explaining, among other things, that he is out of tomatoes. The entrants came up with a variety of plans to escape hell: seventhelement improvised his way out via endless brooding piano; blastron rode through the air and wrote rock lyrics to that effect; and Arcana simply ran as fast as he could, pushed along by trance. 

TheMisterCat’s song began with a low-key build that eventually leads to a seeming infinite epic chorus. DDRKirby(ISQ) took on a collaborative effort, allocating half of the time allotted to A-zu-ra for expansion and polish. After a slight confusion, Clockwerk clarified that he was late to the compo and uploaded a piece he made the night before. Duosis showed up to pay tribute to the late Donna Summer through a remix of “I Feel Love” containing occasional chemical breaks. At the end of the listening party DucksUnlimited offered “Your Mom”, an off-kilter electronic piece that encapsulated the zany nature of the night.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spell It Out

The Sonic Zone Remix Competition began its first mixing stage following an extensive recruitment period. The introduction for the compo is much like the plots of the Sonic games themselves: something has gone wrong in the universe, causing the Sonic Bracket and Robotnik Bracket to form through some contrivances. The tournament promises some exciting bouts, particularly considering the large amount of veterans of previous tourneys such as the Wily Castle Remix Gauntlet. Worlds away over at SDCompo, its 66th round had quite a large turnout with thirteen entries. This was no doubt a result of the revised rules, which extended the usual deadline to six weeks, as well as the newly permitted use of four selected VSTs: Synth1, daHornet, Crystal, and TAL NoiseMaker.

LLCompo: Battle 16 settled on a location as its theme; along with the usual description, “Egypt” also had a pair of ASCII figures walking like an Egyptian. The intro narration by WVI and s1rnight started off with a mic check proceeded by an official decree of the royal pharaoh, and un-tiss. MKC made use of exotic scales before dropping the 8-bit beats and reaching the “Mummy Boss”. blink and the 364s took advantage of SolidComposer’s markdown by incorporating a line break, font resizing and boldness to display their metallic lyrics. The centerpiece of the night was a three-part odyssey conceived by Tilde, Sear and Paratroopa1 as separate tracks: “The Exploration of Harbinger’s Tomb” began with breakbeats combined with chips; it continued with a moodier journey into lo-fi material; and it ended with a lighter tone noted as being “No relation to parts 1 or 2.”

JHCompo on Tuesday threw everyone involved into a dancing game show complete with “Dancing with the Stars” as the intro backing music. AkogareZephyr appeared unexpectedly and offered a breezy scat entry. SonicThHedgog put up a consolation entry sampling James Brown and cranked to the utmost electrohouse volume. Duosis apparently recorded his funk tune with a blanket on the microphone before removing it partway through. skyndileg’s trip hop composition features arpeggios that would be more at home in a 50s doo-wop ballad, combined with trance lead. chunter laid down the funky jams, going back and forth between a clavinet, Rhodes and an airy synth melody. Finally Chickenwarlord contributed to the compo with a quickly-made ambient beat due to his late start.

Thursday’s OHC almost seemed to go meta with its “public forum” theme, as the compo itself has served as an open mic of sorts for various musical talent over the years. DucksUnlimited set the tone with much trumpeted fanfare, and a distorted vocal recording at “The Funeral Pyre”. Further speeches followed: seventhelement delivered his through a vocoder; sci went for a wah-wah effect; blastron full-out sang his words to the assembled throng. The round also had its share of instrumentals including darthpolly’s layered guitar and piano work, though he later felt that a rap would have been a good fit for the theme. The showstopper of the night came from DDRKirby(ISQ) who put together an eight minute piece setting off a flurry of comments in the listening party.

Some further rousing music came from TheMisterCat, who utilized his vocal and flautist talents to evoke a mournful yet driving mood. IXI’s slightly detuned keys supported several glitch effects before the boom-pat entered the fray. The round was not without overly quirky music though: CJthemusicdude made repeated references to DucksUnlimited, and fowl lamentation in general. My own entry “Raise Your Voice” seemed to raise eyebrows as the party wondered what the time signature of the song was. Finally munchi wrapped things up by twisting a mundane-sounding speech into an electronic session punctuated by guitar stabs.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fire in the Disco

Doubles’ Dash Compo 15 aimed to spur friction with its “Showdown” theme and resulted in three teams of two for the night. The compo organizer Level 99 joined in without worry of unfair foreknowledge of the theme, because it had been set long in advance and had been forgotten by him. He and Brandon Strader grouped up as The Dying Dead of the Dead, and given the metal growling and antagonistic lyrics, perhaps the title could use more references to death. The Whoppers put together a light superhero-themed pop song in ode to the arch-villain, containing an extended guitar solo that soars higher than a caped crusader. Finally ProjektZero spat lines over Prophecy’s stomping beat with chords that bring to mind every hit Britney Spears song ever. 

People’s Remixing Competition 217 visited the world of Warcraft by way of an earlier game in the franchise, Warcraft II. The winner of the previous round, Chickenwarlord chose a track from the classic real-time strategy game for participants to remix. The lone entry came from sggod89, who delivered some moody rock building from one one of source material’s riffs. Not to be outdone by PRC 217’s slim turnout, OLRmageddon LIX had zero entries despite the enticing Batman-related theme for the month. Dwelling of Duels in April had its Free Month that allowed contestants to remix any game they desired. As a result the round covered a wide variety of titles including, as it so happens, Warcraft II.

LLCompo: Battle 15 again yanked its theme description from the dictionary: this time it accompanied its “Crime” with an ASCII rendering of a holdup. Kay Karaday’s introduction narrated by WVI seems to take place in a prison cell judging by the harmonica backing, although it gives way to 8-bit. Bipolarbear made the most of the situation, writing a song about being shot dead from a failed robbery. sonicmax managed to record would-be thieves stealing his piano, and uploaded the results. Perhaps the most cerebral entry came from johnny bigoode, who imagined that his laidback ambient groove would be perfect for “a heist in a hyped LA lounge bar”. 

JHCompo on Tuesday found its way into a “Processing Plant” for the night and urged the contestants to escape. Clunkst got lost, but did find out the “Secret of the Hot Dog”, which has something to do with chicken. chunter on the other hand got trapped in a “Synth 1 Plant” and thus created his song exclusively with that VST as his instruments. rwarman007 brought things back to the realm of hot dogs whilst delving into the factory of the mind. reaby similarly asked “Hotdog, Anyone?” and got swept up in wind effects before laying down the electronics. At the end of the listening party liquid wind encountered pickaxes and chiptunage so pumping that it clipped. 

Thursday’s OHC had its disco fever theme pasted verbatim from the person who suggested it, and thus the phrasing does not follow the usual format of compo descriptions. As a terminal illness, the fever gave entrants ample wiggle room to interpret it. CJthemusicdude informed the audience that since someone had won his trivia contest last week, he remixed a medley that winner’s previous entries. The first conventional entry of the night came from seventhelement who referenced the Bee Gees, but presented an original electrodisco track. blastron’s track was one of the first in the round to emphasize the terminal aspect of the theme, with “One Hour Left to Live."

A slew of disco-titled tracks followed, including “DICKSONITE” by Zovi, “Short Disco” by TheMisterCat and the thought-provoking “Disco at the Beach” by Misael.K. At one point it became clear that the organizer starla had left the round without an admin, so Misael made a point of clarifying that his later track "Chicken Popsicle" was actually a collaboration between Trancient and munchi. Wrapping things up was my own take on the theme: a cover version of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi", because you don't know what you're got till it's gone.