Review: Scene Zine #1 - #3

By Adok/Hugi

It was RokDaZone, the main editor of the legendary Amiga diskmag Generation, who invented a new term intended to become a replace the word "diskmag", which was considered outdated because the scene magazines were no longer primarily spread on disks: ScenZine. But as with so many replacements for commonly used terms, the word ScenZine hardly ever appeared anywhere outside Generation itself, and soon it vanished from the conscious perception of diskmag editors. Now, in 2003, five years after the release of the last issue of Generation, all of a sudden a magazine has appeared which carries a name that sounds very similar to RokDaZone's neologism: Scene Zine. Has it been pure coincidence or have the editors unconsciously chosen it in order to give RokDaZone's concept of the new demo scene magazine a new life?

Whatever, Scene Zine is not a diskmag - it's an html-based online magazine. In addition, it's available as a Word document, which is for people whose browsers can't display the html documents correctly. Each issue is one single html or doc file, and none of the three issues that have been released so far occupies more than 90 kb, so you can load and store them on your hard drive fast.

Who are the people behind Scene Zine? It's the staff of Scene Rep, a website... which, as it seems, has been primarily created for the distribution of Scene Zine. Apart from Scene Zine, the only thing at that site that has succeeded at catching my attention has been a link called "Buy Merchandise". Well, this doesn't come much of a surprise as Scene Rep is an American-based site, and as you know, the USA is the country where the sentence "In God we trust" is printed on the one-dollar note.

The people responsible for Scene Rep are Patrick Groove, Christofori, Libris, Network19, Novus, DJMirage, Amoivikos, Drq. If you're a coder or a gfxian, these names probably say approximately nothing to you. If you're a musician, however, you might know some of them since they've also been involved in a big (perhaps it's even the biggest ever) tracking music site: United Trackers. (You know, it's the one that has the newsletters delivered to a few thousands of subscribers worldwide.)

Scene Rep also included a "Mission Statement", in which its maintainers state that their aim is to promote the demo scene, which they call "one of the largest online communities since the 1990s". Scene Rep itself is supposed to be "the scene's best source for scene information". Er... okay.

So how about Scene Zine? "Every month there's always something new to cover in our zine. This is the best way that we could think of to communicate with you and the scene on a regular basis." As a matter of fact, they have indeed managed to keep up a monthly release basis since the first issue, which issued in April 2003.

Basically all the three issues released so far mostly contain reviews and interviews. As the former type of contents is the one that dominates issue 2, it's called "Review Month", and for an analogous reason, issue 3 has got the sub-title "Interview Month". On checking the table of contents, it immediately becomes obvious that even though Scene Zine is supposed to be a magazine about the demo scene, the focus is on music - maybe that's just because this is the area which former United Trackers editors know best.

By the way, here's the TOC of all the three issues:

#1: The Epic

The Monthly Ramble
The Mod Ring: Community Fire Starter
An Altered Perception Revived Project
Finding a Host
Demo Music for 64 Kilobyte Intros
How to Kill Your Compo in Ten Weeks
Interview with Tomcat of Greenroom
An Introduction to the Demoscene
Revolution History in Brief

#2: Review Month

The Monthly Ramble
Modshrine: OHC
Module Addiction #2 Review
Monthly Scene Music Reviews
A Brief Guide to Windows Trackers
Monthly Demo Reviews

#3: Interview Month

The Monthly Ramble
Becoming A Professional Musician
Interview With Virt
From Design to Function
When Did "Good" Become An Insult?
Interview with Spoz
Interview With Gopher
Monthly Scene Music Reviews
Monthly Demo Reviews
Farb-Rausch Interview: RP

Scene Zine Issue One

In issue 1, all articles are about music, except the hints on finding a web-host, the Tomcat interview and the demo scene intro for beginners. A striking detail about that introductionary article is that "musical composition" is the only scene discipline which is written in bold letters (since it links to a page entitled "About Tracking"). Altered Perception is an old music archive which might now be going to be revived. "How to Kill Your Compo in Ten Weeks" focuses on online music compos such as the ones people announce on #trax all the time. Novus suggests that many of them just announce compos in order to draw more attention to their websites and then surrender after experiencing the work connected to the organizing of a compo.

Creating demo music for 64k intros is a very interesting topic indeed. I guess one could say the same about the related article in Scene Zine #1. However, it's quite short and certainly doesn't cover all aspects of this difficult art.

The final article of this issue, "Revolution History in Brief" by Libris, is a summary of the fascinating history of electronic music from Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone in 1876 up until SID, MOD, MIDI and VST.

Scene Zine Issue Two

What stands out most of the articles of Issue 2 is the reviews of several Windows trackers: Buzz, Madtracker 2, MED Soundstudio, Modplug Tracker and Psycle. The only article in this issue that not only deals with music is Christofori's little demo review section. He writes about his impressions of Out of Style 2 by Storm Studios, Bleed by Obscure and Warped by Bad Karma. Out of Style 2 got 6.4 points out of 10, Bleed 6/10 and Warped 7.9/10.

Scene Zine Issue Three

Finally, a few words about Issue 3. First on the interviews: Virt is a scene musician who's gone professional - he produces music for GBA games. The next two interviewees, Spoz and Gopher, are musicians as well; Gopher is the one who made the second tune of Hugi 23.

"From Design to Function" by Pat Groove is about web design. Novus' "When Did 'Good' Become An Insult?" is quite an interesting statement on changing values in the tracking scene. When he wrote a review for a music site, he had to choose a rating and decided for '7', which had the meaning "Good, but missing what it needs to be enjoyed." The next day, Novus' e-mail box contained a response from the recipient of his 7, "and he was livid. He took my rating as the gravest and most personal insult imaginable, questions my credentials as a reviewer, trumpeted his own 1337 tracking skills, and was overall just plain unpleasant. He was certain that he stood at the pinnacle of the tracking scene, and a mere 7 was unacceptable."

In the demo reviews, a demo called "La Petit Prince" (sic!) by Kolor gets 7.8/10, while Cuatro by Threepixels is worth 7.2/10 and .Insanity. by Nithril &emp; Isterm even receives 8.7 points.

In the final interview, Ronny Pries (rp) of farb-rausch reveals that he adores MFX. Oh, and of course Ronny is a musician, too.


Scene Zine is a promising new scene magazine with articles of a pretty good quality. Perhaps it's only due to its being fairly new that it 90% of its contents are about scene music and with time its contents will be more balanced. After all, Static Line, another scene newsletter/mag of American origin, also used to almost entirely revolve around music in its early days and now does include a fair amount of articles covering other topics as well.

Already now, Scene Zine has a feature which no other scene magazine has had before: the individual issues are also available as Word documents. Well, let's see whether this will be kept up at all, as it was only introduced because some people had reported problems viewing the web page.

Congratulations to Pat Groove, Christofori, Libris and the others for releasing three nice initial issues. May Scene Zine continue to be released on a monthly basis for years!