Saturday, June 30, 2012

In a Sensual Way

Doubles Dash Compo 17 ignored the summer sentiment by having participants go back to “School” as its theme. A storm rolled in through the area where the compo organizer resided, further taking the fun out of the season. Level 99 and Wildfire prevailed by making a song with explicit lyrics and an unintentional vocal resemblance to “Weird Al” Yankovic. At the other side of the classroom, blastron and I composed a somber dance pop song making use of several Minimoog V presets. Earlier in the week ThaSauce also had a round of People’s Remix Competition dedicated to the game The Lost Vikings. sggod89 stepped up to arrange the source material by turning it on its head; he infused the tune with jazzy groove and reconstructed the piece in the process.

Dwelling of Duels saw June end as the results of “Town Month” flooded in. As expected considering the theme, a large number of RPGs had been remixed including a pair of Final Fantasy tracks, Dragon Quest and Skies of Arcadia. DoD's distant cousin OLRmageddon finished up its round based on a “Racial Stereotypes” scenario. Captain Hypocrite mentioned he would possibly join, and kept his word thereby becoming the only entrant that month. His Super Punch-Out arrangement stayed within realm of chiptune and asked the question: “Do You Want Some Pizza-Cake?”

Sonic Zone Remix Competition hit a snag of controversy regarding the voting of the previous week; in the end Rexy and Phonetic Hero lost by a hair, spurring a mixture of reactions. Round four of the Robotnik Bracket picked up thereafter, pitting Brandon Strader against Gario. This also caused some commotion due to the implementation of vocoderized vocals; at best they fill up the soundscape, albeit unintelligibly. Brandon played to his strengths, putting to use his live instrumentation and singing to convey a sense of loss and confusion.

SDCompo reached the end of round 67 with nine entries in a variety of styles. This was perhaps because of the wider selection of VSTs allowed for competition: FreeAlpha, TAL-Elek7ro, MrTramp2, and Delay Lama. Meanwhile LLCompo: Battle 23 chose a theme for the week that was unusual given the framework of the compo: participants were asked to make original songs about video games. Leading the listening party was an introduction by Captain Barbatar, whose voice undulated from left to right as he murmured without aim. 

JHCompo on Tuesday marched off into the sun by way of its theme of “The Parade”. I started off the proceedings with my usual narration, this time mixed on top of the keyboard instrumental of “Robot Parade” by They Might Be Giants. chunter bopped his way in with a ragtime-tinged piece composed of lo-fi synth sounds. SonicThHedgog settled on a two-shot of old works since his workstation crashed: the first bangs along in the style of dubstep heavy in reverb; the second is more in line with electro house drenched in piano. irrelevnt pleased the crowd working out layers of sharply juxtaposed instruments and clips, mostly in a salsa style. Finally Duosis forwent any attempt to compose, and merely uploaded a song from an episode of Reading Rainbow.  

Thursday’s OHC brought the past week full circle on the subject of birth, life and “a new beginning”. On that note, or perhaps a dissonant note clashing against it, sci worked out some detuned chords and sliced up some breakbeats. Resonantwaves suffered a crash and seemed to continue sci’s precedent of pads and an ethereal mood. Several contestants referenced birth in their song titles: “(BIRTH)” by A-zu-ra warmed over some chips for adequate ambience; “Time Reborn” by OMGitslewis held a vaguely marchable flair; and “rebirth red” by SupaSpeedStrut ran delay over everything. Near the end of the listening party Roseweave put together a seemingly straightforward piece of electronica, although the elements seemed to jostle at the finish.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

This Is What Happened

As the summer swelters on, some music competitions rose up while others cooled off. Battle of the Bits continued its trend of blunt and direct names for rounds with “You Did Not Get This Far to Not Rock Out”. One track from this battle had a revealing title: “I first submitted before this compo started”. On the other hand, Svetlana ran the less descriptively titled “OHC#00898” and submitted the track “short-and-stupid” to it for good measure. Meanwhile the Swapalbum project was underway recruiting participants. Unlike most compos, the goal in Swap is to pass along works in progress to multiple people, each contributing to the track until it is complete.

Sonic Zone Remix Competition rolled out another batch of remixes as it reached round four of the Sonic Bracket. The road to glory became narrower as the tournament funneled to two entries: Amphibious and Xenon Odyssey’s track opens with mellow Rhodes action, and then opens up the soundscape to acoustic drumming, synthetic riffing and undulating saxophone with piano. Rexy and Phonetic Hero began their collaboration with the familiar chips of the past before laying down the beats amid a swarm of in-game sound effects. 

JHCompo on Tuesday lumbered into the “Land of the Dinosaurs” introduced by way of a narration backed by the Dinosaurs TV show theme song. dusthillguy was the first musical entry in, and he delivered his usual flurry of eccentric clips and instruments. ProjektZero return from hiatus to recite the definition of an extinction event, coupled with layers of rhythmic tonalities. mistermv also came back to the party, rousing up a sonic shrill leading into a cinematic score. Roseweave submitted what at first seemed like a straightforward track, but trolls its way into the entirety of George Clinton and The Goombas“Walk the Dinosaur”. At the end of the listening party SonicThHedgog played along on his guitar until he met his unfortunate demise to the jaws of a T-Rex. 

Thursday’s OHC settled on the teachings of ob-li-di ob-la-da as “Life passes you by”. In a rare display for OHC, the theme was accompanied by images: they consisted of time lapse photography of moving vehicles. natsukashi started things off with a description that seems scientific but at best contradicts itself; the song trips its way across a field of breakbeats an ambience. LavenderHarmony sent up a lavish orchestral take on the theme, noting that it could have benefitted from an intermediate section between the first and second halves. IXI took a moment to reflect on the meaning of time, but then put his thoughts aside for the sake of groove. 

An unofficial sub-theme for the night seemed to be abundance of pianos: seventhelement battled his ailing computer to get his keys going; A2Z dipped his ivories into heavy delay and deep pads; Misael.K ran what sounded like an ambulance siren throughout his tinkling notes; and DucksUnlimited sang over a recording of The Beatles’ “In My Life”, known for its sped-up piano during the song’s bridge. Duosis used gratuitous samples of Five for Fighting’s “100 Years” and capped it off with an obscure Ali G clip before finally putting into some electro. Finally jarski sent along a bonus track perhaps best described as he put it: “wind scene dnb remix”.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Freedom of Choice

The past week proved to a playground of options as far as where and when musicians could join compos. Battle of the Bits in particular held a fair number of competitions in the past few weeks with a variety of themes: some of the rounds had odd titles, such as “reliable internet broadband”, “what the hell botbrs” and "everyone vote on this". Perhaps the most specific was “If you are the owner of this website and weren’t”,  apparently referencing the domain snafu of the previous week. The song names continued this trend, as seen in Svetlana’s “I forgot how to make music” and Chip Champion’s “I found it finally”. 

People Remixing Competition 220 reconstructed science with sggod89’s selection of Portal 2 for entrants to remix. The source material melds an ambient soundscape with dance rhythms, opening up many possibilities for interpretation. OneUp sampled the praised “lemon speech” from the game and went forward using breakbeats. evktalo’s arrangement used the source’s bassline to the exclusion of other elements; he also noted the irony of remixing the game considering it causes him motion sickness. Zerothemaster went for rap vocals and an 8-bit asthetic, but decided against listing the lyrics in the description. Trism played around with a musicbox and un-tiss while sggod89 dropped a bonus entry of his own. 

LLCompo started things off with a narration by WVI, who admitted to still being sloshed from the last week’s round. Rather than announcing the theme of the night in a straightforward manner, he related an increasingly unsettling anecdote about a “Blackjack Dealer”. The Sonic Zone Remix Competition hit round three of the Robotnik Bracket revealing an interesting twist of fate: Brandon Strader’s guest vocalist Wildfire from a previous bout would go on to be Brandon’s direct competitor. Both of their tracks were in the running while Gario and Syllix dueled on in a narrowing field of four entries total.

JHCompo on Tuesday ventured on the motorway, tying in the weekend’s summer festivities with a “Road Trip”. Tomapella was the first to blurt out “WOO YEAH” and went to work building a talkbox-infused chillout track. chunter crash-cymbaled his way in and did some extended soloing for the occasion. InvisibleObserver finally removed his invisibility cloak in time to return to JHCompo under the swagger of an electrohouse beat. irrelevnt admitted to “Road Tripping Ballz” but nevertheless delivered a bass-and-whistle tune panned out to maximum efficiency. Finally Maraki started his engines in a sea of chippy blurps and skidded off the roadway by way of four-on-the-floor. 

Thursday’s OHC noticeably was missing its organizer for the night, and so it came as little surprise that theme was “Free for All”. With that in mind, BrandonS fooled around with Mellotron tape loops to produce a pre-manufactured arrangement, which he found to be ironic. TheMisterCat incidentally played with pad sounds on the keyboard, using nearly the same core approach as Brandon but outputting a completely different result. Roseweave recorded a new version of John Cage’s composition “4:33”, but defied the original by including a deliberate musical action i.e. beatboxing.

MandraSigma was the first of many entrants to reference the theme in the song title, as his “Anarchist Hipster” served as a synonym of sorts. Other included seventhelement’s “Freedom is a Competition”, A2Z’s “Loose” and CJthemusicdude’s humorous “Fwee for Soundfwonts”. Duosis made a rare appearance sampling a handful of clips, and used the final chord of Pink Floyd’s “Atom Heart Mother Suite” as a pitched instrument. At the end of the party munchi sent off “Tribal Loops” in an effort to expand drum and bass into the realm of drums and loops.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Compolympics

The Sonic Zone Remix Competition reached round two of the Robotnik Bracket resulting in 11 entries. The tournament has been home to some tense but fun banter amongst the participants, including Amphibious’ note that he sequences all of his arpeggios by hand because it’s “the only way.” In this sense, I felt like a reporter hanging out in the locker room after a sweaty game in the Olympics. Elsewhere Dwelling of Duels started June off with the wonders of “Town Month” in which participants could remix video game town themes. More specific rules apply, such as that the town be occupied by non playable characters. 

June was also the start of OLRmageddon, this time centering on the “Racial Stereotypes” of the gaming worlds. A list had even been provided with various examples, such as “evil Russians, evil Japanese, evil gays” in wrestling games. LLCompo made its transition away from SolidComposer and onto a site that it felt was more manageable. For round 20 the theme was “Your Worst Enemy” accompanied by an introduction by Saif and Kay Faraday, narrated by WVI: In a distinct change from the norm, it blasted along with a metal beginning that lead to quirky orchestral music topped by WVI’s ironic rant. Battle of the Bits had a slew of competitions in the past few weeks, but ran into a problem with its domain as of this writing.

JHCompo on Tuesday turned up the heat for its 102th round with its “Volcano Theme”. I began the nights proceedings with a spoken-word introduction gradually overcome by the sound of the earth’s crust shifting. SonicThHedgog sent up a brief riff fest of guitar and breakneck snare as he ascended “Mt. 5150”. skyndileg opted to take a flight out of the area, looking back on the aftermath of an eruption using somber strings, woodwind and bongos. nikola took perhaps the most fat out route by constructing an “epic space volcano” that he admitted was in the early stages of development. 

Thursday’s OHC settled on paying tribute to the “Death of a legend”, without saying who the entity was. After prompting, the compo organizer specified that the round was dedicated to Eduard Khil, better known as the Trololo Guy. Given the also-recent death of Ray Bradbury, entrants that night chose either direction, or to other places altogether. Slimeball got the top spot and bid rest to Khil via vocal samples pitched to resemble the funeral dirge. seventhelement was the first to forgo specific people and simply laid down breakbeats amidst an orchestral soundscape. 

Several others took the theme and went on their own journeys. TheMisterCat wrote an “Epitaph” regarding the mysteries of life; DDRKirby(ISQ) touched upon the Legend of Zelda and the legendary status of his own previous entries; johnfn dedicated his track to his own death since he neglected to study for finals; and CJthemusicdude asked the audience to avenge the death of a heroic friend. munchi slid onto home plate at the end with “Death of a Legend (instrumental)”, noting that he intended to have vocals in the chorus: fittingly the lyrics were "DEEEATTTH OOOOOFFFF A LEEGEEENDDD!!!"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Composing for the Weekend

Doubles Dash Compo 16 happened to fall on both the eve of Memorial Day weekend and the start of Blip Festival 2012. Perhaps not coincidentally the theme was “Roadtrip” at a time when people were likely traveling to celebrate the holiday. The turnout was slimmer than normal: DucksUnlimited and Neon Jalapeño joined forces to create “The Road to Perdition” displaying Duck’s vocals. The track is mostly laidback electronica until a sudden rhythmic shift near the end. Toward the end of the holiday break LLCompo: Battle 19 ran into a small implosion at SolidComposer, leading the round to migrate to another site for the party.

Dwelling of Duels received its entries on the half shell as “TMNT Month” reached its end. In addition to DoD’s usual rules, the month also offered that those with the highest ranked entries would go on to be part of the OverClocked ReMix project Shell Shocked. Meanwhile People’s Remixing Competition 219 also offered some album inclusion goodness by challenging participants to remix Gunstar Heroes for the Be Aggressive project. Both Danger Hawk and sggod89 were up to the task, and in a change of form the winner was decided by the project group rather than through a vote. 

The Sonic Zone Remix Competition saw round 2 of the Sonic Bracket bear remixed fruit. Unusually, one of the tracks came with a set of lyrics: Phonetic Hero’s “PseudoMeltdown” features the vocal stylings of Xarnax42. OLRmageddon on the other hand paid tribute to the lesser known composers of the video game world. For bonus points, the entrant needed to include the Wilhelm Scream in some way. Pinkos Anon obliged by putting the scream into a sampler and letting it run the gamut of pitches alongside the music of Star Control 2. He did however use other instruments besides the scream, thus losing the challenge stipulated by XO that would have led to a multitude of prizes including a custom forum title.

JHCompo on Tuesday brought things "Back to Basics" for its theme after I had teased at the many possible puns related to it being the 101th round. dusthillguy kept things simple by way of a mellow tempo and later dropped a beat. nikola welcomed the theme as it allowed him to put out a Game Boy tune using LSDJ. dskyndileg took a left turn by presenting a climatic showdown between two rivals, back by trance pads and guitar arpeggios. Due to a bit of awkward timing, Duosis uploaded an hip-hop “outro” before the actual final track of the night: irrelevnt worked up and down the piano scales and rocked out with stabs of “Apache”. 

Thursday’s OHC selected A2Z’s theme suggestion for the night: “Alone in the Woods” brought back compo memories as far back as the forest-themed round 51, nearly three years ago. dusthillguy started things off by puffing tobacco in the words, thereby avoiding a “smoking trees” pun. Obtuse appeared fresh off of his Blipfest experience to noodle away on bass and keyboard. Several people made of use of backward audio including sci’s mirrored vocal clips, IXI’s reversed cymbals, and Acuity’s choice to flip basically everything. At the end of the round Arcana found himself “Seeking the Way Through” using stock Logic Pro percussion sounds as he got out.