The 8Bit Philosophy

A kindly German chap informed me of a necessary correction on one of the articles on my techno mixtapes site.  It was an insightful comment so I checked out his blog and found some pretty nifty stuff.  I’ll have to scour a bit to see it all, but one thing that arrested my attention immediately was this article on The 8Bit Philosophy – a 40-minute documentary about the history and current state of Commodore 64 game music.

It’s a concise film but packs a punch factually, enthusiastically, and musically.  Not having owned a C64 I didn’t recognize any of the composers (except Rob Hubbard who was mentioned but not interviewed) but I fully appreciated and greatly admired their analyses of why the C64, a limited machine by any definition, was such a special platform for music.

If you’re a nerd worth your salt you will devour this documentary.

Check out the trailer below, or grab the film from the official 8Bit Philosophy website.



My creativity dribbles unfettered

I’ve been toying with the Korg DS-10 synthesizer for a few days and am having a blast with it.

With a pair of headphones on it’s incredible what a range of crisp, raspy waves the DS can belt out – and simultaneously to boot. DS-10 gives you two lead synthesizers and a drum machine, effects modules, a mixing board, and a virtual patch board to generate sounds. A primitive sequencer puts it all in order, and given the small screens and resolutions it does a really good job of conveying and separating information across the two screens, but many of the memory and control features are scaled back due to the limitations of the DS platform so it’s really not much more than a toy.

That’s perfectly okay with me, though, because it’s really fun to toy around with. The manuals are all in Japanese but the interface is completely English. Loading up, playing, and modifying the awesome demo song helped me learn all the basics, and with this limited package the basics are as much as you need to know.

Writing music came back to me really easily, and I looped a few little 4-bar jams until I came up with the full-on middle of the song – something catchy and driving. Then I replaced all the default instruments with some custom ones, which I’d revisit and tweak occasionally. I had fun with all the knobs and the patch panel, and generated lots of dissonant and swirly sounds with the flanger.

I copied the primary 4-bar pattern to the other 16 patterns and varied them all slightly. Then I put the patterns in order using the clunky sequencer. I wanted to make a long song of 6 or 8 minutes but ran out of space very quickly. This was kind of a shame, but I enjoy working within limitations and found it kind of liberating to be forced to compose little more than a song mcnugget.

It’s ugly and simplistic but I like this song. It’s the first song I’ve written in 11 years which I feel kinda proud of. I love the fidelity of the sounds and it recorded quite cleanly with a male-to-male 1/8″ cable in my Audigy 2’s line in port.

As I was recording it in Audacity I asked my wife to recommend a name that describes the sound. She didn’t hesitate to suggest this one. Click below to download my song if you’re a real masochist.

Download Brian’s Movement Number 2


X amount of flavour

This middle skool d&b recording of the Rinseout radio show on CKLN FM, Toronto (Ryerson University’s radio station) is bananas. Nicky Blackmarket throws down some lighthearted, grindey jungle records while the immortal Stevie Hyper D (briefly accompanied by MC Moose) weaves the lyrics over top.

Listen to this without delay and solve for X.

Nicky Blackmarket with Stevie Hyper D and MC Moose on CKLN FM Toronto 1996