Assembly Multichannel Compo Review
Written by Makke
Yes, I did some ranting about the Assembly Multichannel-compo before. And yes, now I'm about to look more at the different tracks and tell you what I like about them, what I don't and in the end try to draw some sort of conclusion. Kind of the way I always do...
Let's start from the bottom and work our way up, shall we?
10th place - Berylux tones by Jcole [542pt]
One of the many d 'n b songs in the compo. As I've stated before, I'm not too keen on this style, but I'll try to give it a fair judgement anyway. The sound is of course very professional. You won't get to the actual compo of a big party like Assembly if the sound isn't professional. I guess it's a good d 'n b song. But as a worshiper of melody this didn't offer me much. The only real variation in the song is some differently hit drums every now and then, and some lead that plays something that can be called a melody. But the variation of this track is limited to changes in the chord (which is, as it seems, a standard dnb chord).
9th place - 106 Miles by goldcrest [727pt]
The title and the introduction sample from "Blues Brothers" make me think of a song from The Party called "106 miles to Chicago". I don't remember the actual song "106 miles to Chicago", but "106 miles" has nothing more to do with "106 miles to Chicago" than the title and the Blues Brothers sample. This one is a funky song, with a rather limited melody and monotonous feeling over it. Songs like this usually score great at demoparties... as long as they're 4 channel ones, but it doesn't seem to be the same when it comes to multichannel-compos. The samples are very good, and well used. This could very well be the soundtrack to a Shaft-movie, or any other negro/afro-funk-movie. Even though it's a kind of monotonous song it feels fresh and varied because of the over presentation of monotonous dnb songs in the compo. I'm actually a little surprised this one didn't score better.
8th place - x.15periments by rain [792pt]
Here we have an interesting song, with a style which it hard to define. It sounds very analog, with a lot of zap-sounds, and zineish-sounding samples (though they actually are not zine-waves). I think you either like this song or hate it. Personally I can say that it isn't the kind of style I usually listen to. However, it's still an interesting piece of music. It sounds, as I said, very much like zine-samples, with some Erik Lyden (aka Carebear) drums and a chip-lead. But there's one big catch. Should a song sounding like this (as a zine/chip song, with higher quality drums) take up 886 KB on my HD? I don't think so. This sound could be reached by using effects and techniques provided by the tracker and with a much smaller file-size. It's not the file-size that bothers me the most, it's the technique, or rather the lack of technique... so in the end I guess I don't like this song. (I won't say hate, because hate is too strong a word).
7th place - Banana Color by Ylikulju [816pt]
Yet a junglish dnb song, with some (in my opinion) really unnecessary "drug-commercial" in... or whatever the voice saying "heroin, ecstasy, crack" etc. should "motivate" you to. A really monotonous song, which I guess you're not really able to enjoy if you aren't high on any of the drugs named in the song. Yes, it sounds professionally made, but that's not enough. There has to be some variation and characterizing about it, more than just naming drugs. I REALLY didn't like this one. No offence Ylikulju...
6th place - Mellon Moon by Jean Nine [821pt]
At last. A song with some real melody. Very bassy song in a style which is beyond me. It sounds like a mid 80's experimental-Jarre song. The technique of this track might not be smashing either, but at least the monotonous "let-the-drum-do-the-job"-style is broken with this one. It's not really a catchy song. It's actually rather strange. And the end sounds rather "chaotic", without being fast at all. I think it has something to do with some "bad"-chords. Which I suppose are meant to be that way.
5th place - smal red grapes by xhale [855pt]
Ok. It's time again for a "beat-the-drum"-dnb song which is mainly built up by chords accompanied by noises, probably produced with some "analog"-softsynth (geeeeez! That sounded like a greeeaaat contradiction). But really. Is this a song?
4th place - jazzy high by hooligan/dcs [881pt]
It's always nice to see good ol' group names such as Dual Crew Shining in the compo results. However, the production is "less nice". Well. At least this one. Because if you take a look at the song in the tracker and listen to it properly you'll find that it's mainly built up by 7 long funk samples (where a band is playing) and then a small amount of wah-wah guitars and scratch is placed on that. From time to time a drum-loop is played next to the drummer of the band, and doesn't seem to add anything to the track, more than when it falls out of sync with the other drummer, and only makes the song sound bad. If you want to call that "adding" things to the song. More over it has only got 4 channels. Now I know that I've always said that 4 channel-mods are great, and show how good you are. But should a 4 channeled module end up fourth in the multichannel competition at Assembly in the year of 1999? Hardly. And then, should a 4-channel module without any technique at all (and technique is what four channels are all about these days) end up fourth in the multichannel compo at Assembly in 1999? Hardly... period.
3rd place - Route through Baghdad by gspot/bandwagon/recreation [952 pt]
This different sounding track with oriental influences feels very very fresh after listening to the other contributions. For the first time in the compo we are given true melody, that actually makes you want to play Prince of Persia after a while... (where the hell did I put that disk... hm...) This is a nice piece of well-tracked alternative music. This isn't a style you normally listen to, and this makes it feel even more exotic. One of the more original productions of this compo, and it therefore placed very high.
2nd place - second time by Quasian [1292 pt]
Ooooooooh yeah!!! Gimme some of that funky shit!!! My personal favourite from the Assembly multichannel-compo! Second Time is a funk song, but not the usual digitally sounding funk songs as for instance Hunz usually makes. No, this one really makes you think of old times funk mods by Moby, though there are some chip-sounding leads in between. But hey, it's after all a computer-song. And I've never had any problems with music that sounds "computerish" as long as it does so with taste and style. The song is a bit short though, and it ends rather abrupt. But if you're just downloading one song from Assembly's mod-compo, get this one. Probably the "guitar"-mod of the year. And please, prove me wrong. I really need more of these kind of songs, heh.
1st place - Monument by Nobody [2361pt]
I think somebody did a "Skaven". What I mean? I mean win the Assembly multichannel-compo with a orchestral piece of music. Yes, very original idea and very hard to make perfect. And as a great fan of John Williams and his mighty soundtracks this fits me fine! This song starts rather careful and then raises in power. As I said, tracks like these are really hard to get "realistic", and Nobody is really close. But Monument isn't exactly flawless. The "raising of power" in the song doesn't sound like the musicians are playing harder at their instruments, it rather sounds like somebody raising the volume. And this "steals some feeling". There are also a few leads that could be polished more for better sound. Still a great orchestral module. There are not many with this good quality. But I still doesn't think it beats Skaven's "Catch that goblin!".
To sum this up then I can say I'm a little disappointed. Not at the actual sound quality or professionalism of the track, but rather the lack of originality, variety and genuine scene-quality. Looking technically on most of the songs, they suck. And to me technique is an important thing. And don't tell me that "the only thing that matters is the way it sounds in the end", because it doesn't. Not in the Multichannel-compo. That's what the MP3-compo is there for. For people who doesn't care how it's made, just how it sounds, the same way as the Wild compo is there for "demos" that you don't care how they're made. And I judge even harder on technique on the multichannel this time as there were no 4 channel-compo, and thus no "real" technique-only compo.
You also see that there's a Finnish dominance of the compo. Many of the artists aren't known internationally (many of them unheard of even by me).
Seeing songs by tracker "gods" such as Muffler not even get played is really "interesting" as well. Not only is he one of the most known demo-trackers at the moment, he is also one of the best and most active. I don't say that his song should be played just because he's Muffler. But somehow I don't think Muffler would make a song that wasn't good enough to play at Assembly. On the other hand I haven't heard the song, so it might suck. But I highly doubt it.