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Something Stranger - arranged by FeekZoid

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

And Microprose Soccer begat... well, sometimes an idea floats across the Universe, and hits the right person. In this case, that idea was a Microprose Soccer subtune, and the person was Feekzoid. A simple riff that sounds like it came from a Pong game has an entire space station built around it: SFX, vocoded space vocals, whistling wind, beautiful pads, and an entire song structure. It should have been on a Jarre album, but of course, Feekzoid hates Jarre Probably just as well it wasn't then. Just download it: it's not a tune you'd heard in its original form, but it's a great space overture, which builds and builds into a prog rock masterwork: military drums, wonderful powerchords and a theme which never seems to end. One of the best C64-related MP3s ever created.
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The Analogue Ninja - arranged by FeekZoid

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Do they play this theme to Ninja babies? A musical box version of the Last Ninja, complete with pizz. strings and some gorgeous instrumentation. At 0:35 it stops being so cute and begins to develop a dark side. Further developments take the piece through an Art of Noise section, replete with banging drums and timpani and piano. An odd combination but it works here. It's weird, but it works.
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The Vindicator - arranged by FeekZoid

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Hmm, didn't like the original, and this cover doesn't persuade me to like it, though it does get much better after the first minute or two. I do however see the improvements that have been made to the tune, and the feel of this cover is such that it hangs together nicely. There's even some cello and strings in there: always a sign of class. It's too muffled in production for me to be totally happy with that, but it's a worthy download if you like the original. STRANGE ending! If you like the original, try it.
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7 On The Top (tune 3) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Dramatic though very compressed-sounding intro conveys a dramatic intent to this cover. A very 90s-sounding chime-lead does the melodic work, and the drums and bass keep the tune moving. It's a strained sound coming from this cover, as if the sounds were too big to fit into it: that makes it less punchy than it could be. There's a very '80s teen film feel to this'. At least one of my toes was tapping.
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Last Ninja 3 (tune 7) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Ear caressing strings and choir, and cavernous taikos convey a wonderful atmosphere, though the sound is overemphasised in the sensitive mid EQ range, which makes it slightly painful to listen to. A suitable bell arpeggio continues the theme, and the piece then goes seriously Terminator-esque and heavy: very atmospheric. This is film soundtrack stuff. Quality download: don't miss it.
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Last Ninja 3 (tune 8) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Slightly tinny beginning (which sounds like a Jarre end-of-album track, strangely) removes some of the suspense and power from this otherwise very nicely arranged cover. There's some real emotion here, struggling to get out. At 1:02, some serious synthy bass works with a church-organesque sound to give a very Vangelis feel. A dodgy pitchbend is needed in the subsequent melody for accuracy, but should have been echoed more, since it doesn't sound right this dry. A varied tune, it's difficult to keep the momentum up, and there are parts where you think 'what's going on here'. The main verse could have been even more powerful with more equipment thrown at it, but what's here is genuine art. A download for fans of real melody.
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Tusker - Finale - arranged by FeekZoid

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Jungle screams and atmosphere permeate this track. The Matt Gray jungle drums are cleverly mixed with other ethnic percussion to create a jungle atmosphere. Most of Matt Gray's SID bass and drums are intact here, but the lead and chords have been re-rendered with a choir-like instrument and FX. Later developments include SIDlike FX that weren't in the SID, phasing, flanging, gated synth and other additions. Some large chords never quite sound large enough. A cool throwaway distorted lead at the end should have been used earlier: it's worth the price of downloading in itself... This remix is well done, but it doesn't float my boat. This is probably unfair on the remix, but it's a reflection of my lack-of-feeling towards the original tune. Quality Matt Gray cover.
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Last Ninja Remix (tune 7) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

This tune has always been a smokey back-alley New York tune to me, so hearing it done so synthily is more difficult to like than it should be. The lead (which should be a smoky sax played by a real cool sax player) is a dry synth which doesn't convey the atmosphere of back-alley melancholia that it deserves. The rest of the backing is rather reminiscent of Sega's arcade work. Very atmospheric synth stabs add a touch of class, taking it from a 6 to a 7 overall. There are more atmospheric versions of this tune, but it's still worth a download.
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Myth - tune1 - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Massed choirs follow Jeroen Tel's anthemic intro to Myth: an approach which works very well. I'm not sure about the drums which accompany the tune when its gets going though: they don't make my foot tap, and they're a bit random-sounding. This has always been a difficult tune to cover once you get past the memorable intro, and this cover bravely tries to inject ideas and rhythm. It's a competent Myth, but my posterior isn't heating up. Part of this may be the high-frequency challenged overall sound. Worth a download if you're fed up of really bad Myth covers.
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Neon Nights (tune 4) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

This sounds like Chris Huelsbeck. It might be the piano, the choir or the JV2080 bell-type sounds. However, there's an unpleasant discordant feel here which I don't like at all. It's a subtle wrongness with the instruments: maybe some chords played at too low a frequency, but unsettling all the same. The kick drum and snare also don't go together too well: the snare is sharp in all the ways that the booming, almost tuned, kick is not. Somehow offputting. See if you agree.
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Starforce Nova synthmix - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Not an obvious tune to cover, so brownie points there. Watery arpeggio and synth lead are nicely echoed, but the overall sound of the remix is cluttered and muddled. Some nice Cooksey-synth-work is good, but that wet-reverb piano isn't doing the piece any favours at all bass-wise. Worth a download if you like the original.
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Terrafighter theme - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Atmospheric pads wing this remix into the right landing zone, though they take a long time to start the tune. A tense pause then takes the tune into a pad/arpeggio section. The big drum hits are very Jarre-Zooklook, but the arpeggio instrument itself is disturbingly wibbly, and the instrument used for the lead offputtingly twee. From 2:00 these problems go away, and the remix shows off the piece to best advantage. As it goes on, it again reminds me of a Sega piece, possibly because of the lack of high frequencies in the file which makes it sound like it's been recorded on tape or from a low-quality sound source like an arcade speaker. Brings the majesty out of the tune nicely.
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Thalamusik (from Sanxion) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Ah, Thalamusik. The classic tune. Tough to cover, with listeners demanding a high standard of Sanxion... The beginning is promising, drums are tinny but purposeful, there's some effective filtered gated synth, and the bass works. However, the main leads are awful, and effectively kill the remix for me. The breaks in the piece are imaginatively done, if lacking in dynamics, and the difficult impossible-to-replicate-without-the-sid bits have been done well (with the SID lurking in there). The first whiney solo bit has been done justice thanks to suitably whiny instruments and that ever-present gated-synth effect. The second difficult bit doesn't knock me out: it's unsubtle, though it's not the worst rendition of this piece I've heard: far from it. The last solo at the end of the piece is a disappointment: the lead is just the wrong sound. It's not whiney, it's not vibrato, and it just doesn't convey that scrapey desperate sound that the SID conveys. Better leads would have given this a 7. 5.
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Warhawk main theme (sadmix) - arranged by Ferrara

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A slow, sad treatment of Warhawk: almost a requiem. Shades of this mood for Warhawk also showed up in O2s seminal Warhawk mix. It works very well. Warhawk by its nature relies on minor chords, and has a strong melody line which can well survive away from the original SID. This, this cover works. A Jarre Revolutions feel and floaty pads (albeit with an irritatingly piercing echo-lead) performs the rest of the piece. It's an intelligent and persuasive cover, and even when the melody has its chords changed, it works, the sign of the thought that's gone into it. If the production and sound quality were better, and a couple of the irritations in EQ removed, this would be CD-worthy. Perhaps a rework on better technology? Pretty damn good.
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Jyde Funk - arranged by Fredrik Segerfalk

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

It's funky. It's MoN funky. It's got an asthmatic organ lead though. Toe-tapping: the bass and drums work well, and there's the compulsory rhythm guitar whacking. Inexplicable speech samples and bell sweeps are odd but atmospheric. In conclusion: this is whacked out funk, but actually listenable with an open mind. Not vital, but a nice download for the open-minded.
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Afterburner (Before I burned the afterburner mix) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

An almost ethnic sound characterises the start of this cover, before the main tune kicks in at 1:00. Good use of FX and sounds gives a quite luxurious atmosphere. Thanks to Jeroen's original, this cover is slightly disjointed, and there are parts of it which just stop the tune, but there's some good moments. Jeroen's solo is captured well, and the mix of synths and SID works very well. Well worth the download.
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Arkanoid 2010 - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Arkanoid is a very difficult piece to cover. Having done so myself a number of times it's very difficult to balance the delicacy of the ethereal part of the tune with the apocalypse caused by the bass and drums of the SID. This one captures neither very well, and adds some odd melody. When the good bits of a cover are the bits in the original SID, then you know something's up. An OK Arkanoid with oddities.
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Beastie Boys (B) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Big chords and an odd splatty sound give this a unique sound. Again, good use of delay gives the tune a wide-open and interesting sonic feel. It's definitely not flat! This is a very disposable cover in the sense that it doesn't really leave its mark on me musically: the original tune sees to that. But as a happy use of 1:55 of my life, I'm OK with it. There's nothing here to dislike, and a lot to enjoy. It's an odd tune to cover though. Happy happy happy.
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BraveStarr (Subtune 2) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

The usual FTC ambience is present and correct here in this cover of what's one of Dave Whittaker's odder arpeggio-driven tunes. Some nice piano lead over the arpeggios, and a nice breakbeat make this a pleasant-sounding but odd cover, but somehow it sounds chaotic. This is perhaps because sounds chop and change very quickly, and some sounds which should sustain a lot longer and fade off are just cut. It makes the sound very confusing, because sounds disappear just when the ear is beginning to like them. A chance is missed throughout the entire tune to have a really warm single bass note, (notoriously hard from a sound module) underpinning the beginning of the tune: something to really rattle the windows. This would have made the beginning a lot less brittle and warm. Wistful, but also confusing and choppy. Still worth the download.
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Hawkeye Highscore Tune (Alltime lowest score ever) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A better entry from FTC which has some clever use of the SID. The 80s Chris Huelsbeck rhythm suits the piece nicely, and the space between the bass and the drums which is integral to the feel of a MoN piece has been preserved nicely (never play the bass and drums at the same time for a funky feel!). Some nice spacious instruments all contribute to a very early 80s cover. The original source material is quite limited, but nice enough. Overall a very pleasant cover, strangely reminiscant of Human League except it's cheerful. Nice. Very nice cover of a cheerful tune. If you like 80s, you'll like this.
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FTC - Infodroid (Fade 2 Ambient Gray Mix) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Another interesting and filtered opening, with some actual bass coming through leaves you wanting more, and you're not disappointed. Some really nice synth instruments take the sustained notes, and a nice weird sounding three-note hook gives some of the weirdness that Fred was trying to convey. Somehow the normal strangeness of FTCs arranging meshes with Fred's musical strangeness to produce something special. Sonically I can't fault it except that the bass could be warmer. There's a worrying moment at 2:07 when it sounds like this might turn into Thanatos, but it soon passes. Brilliant.
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Druid 2 (Fairlight Enlightment) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Another Druid 2 cover? Aargh! It's a personal pet hate of mine, and I just can't see why do many people cover this! Dum dum dum. Dum dum da-dum. What IS the attraction? FTC has an interesting attempt at compensating for this rhythmic tedium by using a sync-delay on lead and bass. This mostly works, but you've got to be careful when doing this, because if the wrong note creeps into the melody, you've got a repeating mess. This happens more often than it's supposed to. The string/pad sound and breakbeat here are very good, although again the bass could be heavier, and the piece has been entirely reworked in an ambient fashion. The main criticism of this cover however, is that the main lead tune is wrong. It must be fixed, because it makes this cover very hard to listen to for fans of the piece. If the lead was fixed throughout the tune, this may very well be my favourite Druid 2 cover. Would be 7 if the lead was correct, but as it is, it will probably annoy fans of the tune.
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Humphrey - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Every MP3 FTC creates brings him closer to Vince Clark! First impressions are very promising: beautiful arpeggio, exciting sounds, great pads. The breakbeat kicks in, and you think... hmmm, what's going on here? But the piece survives. I'm not sure it was necessary, but it doesn't repel. The lead when it comes in sneaks under the radar and is a bit subdued. However, it comes into its own when the breakbeat stops, and you get an absolutely gorgeous melange of sound: arpeggio, piano, filtered pads, lead and other amazing stuff. Then the breakbeat accompanies a great pan-flute instrument which manages to avoid sounding 'cheesey'. This part is maybe a bit overlong, but it leads into another quite magnificent quiet bit. We had no right to expect a tune this basic to sound this good. A mini masterpiece. A must-download. Pure quality, and from such an unexpected SID! .
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Last V8 (short version) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Nice echo on the lead doesn't save this unsatisfying cover. It doesn't drag the listener along, the added chords just don't work, and the whole thing fails to satisfy. the whole SID is in here somewhere, so listen to that instead or (plug) the BIT 3 version of Last V8, which is how it should be done. Irritating cover.
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Mayhem (18 years after) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

More Vince Clarkiness from the master of the Clarke-ism. As usual beautiful lush sound, dry exciting electronic arps and rough synth-isms filtering into the distance. From 1:00 it gets disturbingly atonal though. Once again this is symptomatic of the chaotic strands running through FTCs work. At 1:30 asthmatic drums come in, the strings fade into a melange and the piece begins to feel very messy. At 3:30 a beautiful synth break comes back to asthmatic drums and synth, but less messy this time. Wait long enough and the messiness if back. Take your time, FTC. Master the piece you're on, and you have the ability to go far... Potentially great, but very messy.
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Paperboy (Paperboys Lament) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

A very non-FTC breakbeat beginning gets a groove going, and bits of the tune float above a luscious landscape filtering away. Some nice pads and an added melody bit soon come in, and (unlike the Arkanoid cover) add some variety, and a dreaminess to the tune that you'd never have thought was there. A remixer's remix, in that it takes a simple tune and extrapolates it to great sonic effect. Could do with warmer bass though. Essential download.
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Parallax (Subtune 4) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

OW! A nice first three seconds leads into a painful next three seconds? Why? Because the chord that is being played is wrong! And not just slightly wrong... it destroys what the piece is trying to do: the ambience is nice, the sounds are nice, though still slightly cold, but it's painful to hear. Later drums in the piece accompany some adlibbing of the tune, with some painful discords in the pads here and there, and the whole tune begins to journey towards trance/ambient territory. Once it reaches this point, most connection between the tune and the backing is lost, and the whole piece becomes an unfamiliar SID spinoff. The ingredients are nice, but if you're a fan of the SID, this is not easy to listen to. You might like it. I couldn't.
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Rolands Ratrace (tune 4) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

Kudos for covering a tune that Zzap felt it necessary to comment positively on in their review. However, putting a half-speed syncopated beat on an echoed version of the SID for the first 40 seconds doesn't work. The cover improves when some appropriate chords come in over the SID, but then weird Jarre-like chords fight it out with the SID until the whole thing is a bloody mess on the floor. It's painful to listen to. OUCH!! Painful, when it could have been so much better.
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Space Harrier II (Subtune 2) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

An utterly forgettable SIDtune, but this cover starts with some nice minor-to-major pads which sound quite like Howard Jones, and some nice bell sounds which give this whole thing a Glyn R Brown 80s soundtrack feel. Nice, and the usual delay makes this lucious to listen to. A throwaway cover of a throwaway tune, but well worth the download, 'cos it's nice. Plus I like minor to major chord sequences Turns a so-so tune into a worthwhile download.
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Thanatos (sleeping dragon mix) - arranged by FTC

Review by Chris Abbott, 23/01/2003

First: OK beginning, some nice chords. Then it falls apart. Take an ambient tune called Thanatos. Let's take a rhythm from a drunk Hot Chocolate tribute band. Let's put alcohol into the C64 until it can't hold a note. This might be what you'd get when the blender was finished. Ow! I'm mystified by the high marks on R64 for this tune: FTC has done much better (and god knows I love his stuff!). Ow, my ears.
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