Listener's Reviews

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Last Ninja 3 (Old School Sonny Chiba Remix) - arranged by MistaDistah

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Puzzling vocal sample at the beginning gives way to hard breakbeat and SID from Reyn Ouwehand's LN3 title. Miscellaneous instruments and portions that are out of harmony with the original SID follow, and then the tune takes on its own two-chord tune, with more miscellaneous SFX coming along. Some nice Vangelis bell sounds in places don't really make up for this. This really doesn't have much in common with the SID apart from using the beginning of it as a sample. Puzzling and offputting.
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Wizball Song 2 (Orchestral Bouncy Remix) - arranged by MistaDistah

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

The words 'flatter to deceive' apply to this remix, which is an interesting take on the SID. Elements from the SID, orchestral hits, a hip-hop style brush breakbeat all combine. Sounds interesting, and is for about a minute. Then you realise that nothing else is going to happen that's more interesting: OK, the drums develop into a more standard house pattern, but that's about it. This is most definitely a case of 'I've just bought a sample CD and I'm going to use it'. Some nice ascending orchestral chords at 1:30 onwards make me think I've been a bit harsh, since some of them are quite epic. The SID is almost optional here though, and the piece doesn't quite know where it's going. On balance, the world is better for this piece existing, so I recommend a download. don't expect anything more from Wizball than the paint mixing noises though. Download it if you're in an experimental mood.
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Lightforce (Existenz Mix) - arranged by MistaDistah

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

'You didn't get here in time! My game is dead. You murdered my game! ' What does this have to do with Lightforce? -bing- who answered 'nothing'? You're correct!! But what of the rest of the cover. Odd chord stabs on what sounds like a murdered banjo don't inspire confidence. At 0:30 the Lightforce riff strikes up, accompanied by an ascending (and quite painful) siren type sound. When a drum fill strikes up, you expect a breakbeat to kick in, but all you get is a wooden kick/snare combination. All in all, a painful cover to listen to. The nice pads are generally overlaid by an overuse of filter resonance which overshadows any pleasant feelings you get from this, the lead is pretty boring, the bass isn't a patch on the SID, and there's an irritating typing noise throughout. Lightforce is difficult to make unpalatable if you get the tune right, but this one manages to make it audibly annoying. Plus the whole thing seems to have been lifted from my MIDI file, as witnessed by the single note riff at 6:30 and elsewhere throughout the tune, which in my MIDI file were orchestral stabs. Way to make my MIDI file crap, Mista. Extremely irritating. Plus marks off for cribbing my MIDI file without credit.
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Delta - arranged by octave sounds offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A Delta cover that on the surface appears to do the right things: there's the dance breakbeat, the lead is correct, and it's all there structurally. Problem 1 is that the bass doesn't get the most important bit right: that bass run down in the fourth phrase of the verse. If a cover gets that right, it's home free. This doesn't. It's important because the soul of the piece is in this section: it's the first technical test of how well an arranger has understood the piece. Problem 2 is the lead instruments are undynamic, sluggish and generally over-reverbed (hey, sounds like Back in Time 1, hehehehe), and just don't caress the ear like they should. Lead instruments should be pleasant to listen to, not a chore. If you can overlook the accuracy problem, not a bad download.
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Dizasterblaster - arranged by Max Levin offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A surprising choice for a tune cover (and a tune I've never heard before). It's a standard Lazy-Jones style romp with New-Order-esque chords (normal Cm, Eb, Bb, Cm stuff). Not a rich source of creative material. As such, this cover (which attempts to dancify it up) does the best it can with the material: dancey bass, fast beat, pianoey house style lead. It doesn't do anything wrong, but equally people are not going to dance in the streets to this: the rhythm is not quite dancey enough, the bass instrument conflicts with the bass drum, and the whole thing sounds too cute to move a dance floor. It's possible to do a better cover of this in the same style (better arrangement, better samples), but frankly I can't see why anyone would bother. It's a cute tune, and should be left that way.
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Arkanoid Intro (Longer RnB Version) - arranged by MistaDistah

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

This is a cover which, for me, took some time while listening to it to establish its identity. There are some distinct Dr Who moments, along with a general efficient and satisfying treatment of the tune. A lot of the original spaciousness in Martin's tune is initially lost, and the breakbeat performing the drums isn't as apocalyptic as you'd expect. So the cover takes time to grow. But towards the middle and end, it finally persuades you. Repeated listening is a necessity, but a rewarding one. The start could still be more persuasive though, especially the bass, which is too light and hollow. There's also a disturbing drop of one or two bars which makes the chords sound wrong at about 0:42. Initially it sounds like the tune is wrong, but then you realise it's merely repeated too early. 1:22 is when the cover becomes memorable. Well worth your listening ear.
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Thrust (found on c-tape) - arranged by Mixer

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Wow, does this sound like a cop show from the 70s (which is weird, because it should be sounding like electropop from the 80s). After 0:25, it gets very 1981. This must be an early cover, because it's definitely an approximation of the backing and the tune. It works, because it captures the feel of the tune well, as simple as that. However, tune timing gets changed, the backing is slightly different, the bass isn't 100%, and generally the piece feels performed rather than sequenced, although not so obviously performed as PPOT. The SID SFX are noticeable by their absence, though some organ slides put some of the feel back in. Surprisingly agreeable.
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Great Giana Rastas - arranged by Makke

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Sometimes a tune is covered so strangely that it becomes a work of art in itself. Makke's Great Giana Rastas is one of them. While obviously based on the Great Giana sisters theme, it's really a song about Giana, with Makke singing the lyrics, and a very persuasive reggae beat. Giving this marks would not be the right thing to do: it's a coherent original track in its own right, which is well worth a download. What I will do is (a) say that I'm not 100% keen on those lyrics, and (b) say that overall I'd give it an 7 for entertainment value. I'm not sure I'd listen to it regularly, but creative jumps like this make for a much more interesting C64 scene, and long may it continue.
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Mustang Monty - arranged by Makke

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

The start of this is from Auf Monty, the riff done with synths rather than bell-types. The bass follows the unfiltered SID version (i. e. it's wrong) and generally it reminds me an awful lot of LaLa's XM. The tune is correct, the drums are occasionally messy in the fills… plus the bass doesn't always behave like the SID, which is offputting. Later on the tune switches to Monty on the Run, complete with irritating wrong notes and generally isn't very satisfying at all. Disappointing for fans of the original. Two disappointing renditions.
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Ode to my C64 (Hammerfist) - arranged by Makke

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

In this tune, the point is not what is covered (Hammerfist), it's a complete song devoted to the C64 in Depeche Mode stylee. And it's brilliant executed. Just download it!
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Starforce Fighter - arranged by Makke

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A little reminiscent of Parallax, this MP3 has a very wide sound until the drums kick in, when it becomes boxy and too reverbed. There are some nice ideas here, but the overall sound quality lets it down. Better production would have added two marks overall. A good cover let down by its sound.
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Chimera - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Hey, there's SID in them thar tune. Essentially this one is a hyped up SID in XM (no small achievement, I guess). 100% accurate, with some nice extra tracks and SFX doing the business. Although the swirls lack some of the fluidity of the SID (mostly because Rob didn't retrigger the ADSR envelope when he was doing them, whereas here Boz is forced to use individual notes), the whole cover hangs together and conveys the SID nicely. Not the ultimate Chimera cover, but satisfying and accurate, and therefore soul-satisfying. And it must have been a BUGGER to do those swirls. A soul-satisfying treatment of one of Rob's more unusual tunes.
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Comic Bakery - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Very accurate version of Galway's classic: painstaking recreation of every pitch bend and vibrato. Fairly nice breakbeat, possibly the piano-type sound could have been more synthy. Follows the original accurately, with occasional well-placed additions. Any deficiences in this cover are again in the XM format: yes, it's been overshadowed by Instant Remedy and Danko, but it's a good cover of a classic song. Overshadowed by better produced covers, but still delivers the goods.
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Detergent - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

The 80s return with Boz's version of one of the most racy pieces from The Mighty Bogg's 'Album 2'. Nice muted 80s sound, with flowing synth pads, a straightforward but soft-touch synth lead, occasional ringmod SID and some nice filtering, lead to a quality cover, well worth the download. Quality cover of an racy tune by an unusual composer.
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Elektra Glide - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

To get you in the mood for this cover are some whiney engine FX. Really, there's only one way to do Elektraglide without messing with it, and this is it. The XM format ensures average production values, but Boz's extended mix will not disappoint the fan of this piece, though to be fair it won't knock their socks off either. A safe and thorough cover (though was that an unusual chord I heard in there in the bridge section? I guess it's a matter of opinion! Safe cover for fans of the original.
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Human Race (Tune 4) - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

More of a reworking of the SID with some chords filling in the obvious melodic sections: the individual parts hold up well accuracy-wise. An original idea is to have a kind of grunting sound here and there to indicate primitive humans. A safe but unexciting cover. A safe cover for fans of the original.
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Max Headroom (Low Bridge Ahead mix) - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Some nice FX and a Whittaker bassline play round your head, as this quite light piece wends its merry way into a more bassy section. A sid-like lead takes over, and all of the Whittaker twiddles are there. The burble chords are nicely (if subliminally) rendered, and the drums are very Whittaker-esque, with those typical breaks… At 2:00 it becomes clear that there's an 80s breakbeat vibe happening, later accompanied by single voice Whittaker things. Think of this as a 12' development. Not startling, but a pleasant download.
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Monty on the Run (highscore) - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

With a breakbeat and a woman? With the laid back organ, the SID riff present and correct, this pushes all the right buttons to give a retrospective feel to this. Something has ended, we think. And we'd be right. The lead when it comes in is a sax: always a brave or foolish choice of instruments. Here is just about works, though I would have preferred something slightly less icky. Suitable synths play the famous bendy bits, and despite breakbeating this rhythmically straight piece, this is a very pleasant way to spend 6:23 (!). The easiest MOTR High score to listen to.
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Golden Axe - arranged by Makke

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A great guitar intro sets the scene nicely. The cover itself is suitable Maniacs of Noise: bouncy bass and choppy chords with a boom-tss drum. As such, it's flawless. However, the tune isn't the most interesting in the world, so Makke has done the best he could with the material. If you're fond of MoN covers, this one's superior. A superior MoN cover.
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Last Ninja (Analog Synthmix) - arranged by Betweenzone

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Some drum lines funk, some don't. This does. Forget about the grandeur of sweeping landscapes, this is Ninja funk. A slightly out-of-time lead filters its way through the tune playing the intro. At 1:17 the tune finally gets started, but the lead doesn't quite work: it's just a little too raw, though you can hear what it's trying to do. Unfortunately when the tune starts, the driving force of the intro drums is lost. Partly that's because the bass and drums don't mesh properly and interact a funky fashion. Ben's guitar solo in the original piece was always a bit out-of-place stylistically, but here, though skilfully played by a human, has way too much modulation, and so sounds ill. Somehow if that bass and those drums could work together, this would have been funky mutha. But instead it leaves me strangely disappointed, especially considering their previous Ninja cover (Wilderness). A superior rework of a samey tune let down by the drums.
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Samurai Warrior (BadKarma Mix) - arranged by BoulderDash(CZ) offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

OK. Let's take a relaxed Samurai game with a spiritual attitude (and one of my favourite games). Let's force-feed it Red Bull and Espresso, and take it to a local loop factory. SID + Drums. Supremely pointless, badly chosen SID… this makes a mockery of anything the original SID stood for. The piss, here, is being taken mightily. Bad in all senses. You wouldn't even dance to it, so what IS the point?? Duck and cover! Incoming travesty! .
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Bulldog - arranged by Boz

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A good cover, but an aging one. From Boz's tracker days, it's an accurate rendition that strains at the boundaries of the format (and the cheap samples) to project some emotion. Occasional ear-candy extra tracks hint at what might have been with more production and equipment. General lack of variety across the cover in dynamics and arrangement relegates this to merely 'nice', but still worth a download if you like Dave W's work. A respectful cover which makes a so-so tune more palatable.
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Ark Pandora - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Terrible. Timing is bad, and the SID sounds much better and more balanced than this. Music is about orchestration, correct instruments, harmony and timing. This is devoid of all of these qualities, and the second part of the tune is truly horrific. I hear barrels being scraped.
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Gyruss - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A bad conversion, badly done. Excrement of the highest order. Drums are inappropriate, the lead instruments are unclear and the arrangers has no feel for the tune: this is one of the most famous tunes ever, and Sky's treatment of it was inspirational. This is not. Just pointless.
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Human Race (Goldrunner) - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Pretty much each voice of the SID played with different instruments. No additions, no extra material, no extra interest. A rework without much merit, except for the echo lead which is OK. Uninteresting.
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KnuckleBusters Y2K - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Knucklebusters is very easy to ruin. And… poof! It just was. Imagine if you will me wincing in a corner, and you've got my reaction to this remix. Detail? Well, timing sucks, the rhythm is wrong, the synths are irritating and the whole remix hangs together worse than a group of friends in a scary movie. Pretty bad.
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Commando (Little Noise Mix) - arranged by BoulderDash(CZ) offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Of the many ways Commando can start, a lot choir drone is one of the most unexpected, particularly when it goes into a Jarre-like beginning. The choir sounds cheap, and so doesn't really convey the mystery that it's trying to. Then in comes a sped-up version of the SID with some drums. And… er… that's more or less it, except for the disastrous synchronisation of the melody voice with everything else. Occasionally extra SID voices come in to further maim this already bludgeoned piece. While I was reviewing this in my house, I heard slammed doors all over the house as the piece went on. Incredibly, this one contrives to get more and more ear-battering as it goes on, which considering how it starts is a great feat. OUCH! The piece starts out as a 6, and then dives throughout the tune.
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Return Of The Mutant Camels - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

The intro instrument called upon to play the beginning big drums to this piece isn't a drum! In addition, this Peruvian tune has been sucked dry of emotion: the Ben Daglish tune cleverly used vibrato and flutes to convey a beautiful place. This is hell by comparison. It's lucky the Incas are dead: they would have hated this.
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Thundercats - arranged by Fash offline

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Interestingly the ID3 tag for this used to say 'Unknown Artist'. Good description of Rob Hubbard. Still, what of the cover? Well, it's the SID but without any of the performance or dynamics. Complete waste of time, and part of it are truly dreadfully inaccurate. Rob Hubbard turns in his… seat.
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Armakunis Journey - arranged by FeekZoid

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Anything with journey in the title had better be epic! Luckily this is. A simple start has Ben's subtune 3 loading music nicely echoed across the landscape. Then some floating chords come in with the echoes and beautifully complement the SID. At 1:30, in comes a stirring military drumbeat to convey us to the next floaty part of the tune: reminds me slightly of Bolero! Building on that atmosphere, beautiful choirs crash in to convey the scale of the epic journey of the title. Let's face it, it's a classic remix. It tries to convey emotion and it succeeds. Yet it's a simple cover. Classic download.
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