Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

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Review of Variform Remixed (Adok/Hugi)

This the review of a special music disk: It's a music disk that is based on a demo. The name of the demo: Variform by Kewlers. Variform is not an everyday demo. It was presented at Assembly 2002, where it didn't win the compo. Nevertheless it quickly gained popularity in the scene, got overloaded with awards and coup de coeurs at pouet, and placed 1st in most PC demo charts from 2002 to about 2004. Personally I've always had difficulties to understand this. Only after watching Variform many times, I slowly started to like anything about it. The colours are as cold as could be, the beginning "We are back for Assembly 2002" sounds unprofessional (IMHO the name of the party a demo was released at shouldn't be presented in the actual demo, or only as a side note; it's enough to mention it in the file_id.diz and the info file. My notion of demos includes that they are timeless, stand-alone productions which just happen to be released at parties because it's a good place to show them to a large, interested audience. Naming the party right at the beginning gives the impression that the demo was created for the party only), and the GFX doesn't really impress me although I must admit it's stylish. The only thing I really like about this demo is the music and how it is synchronized with the actions on screen.

Probably many other people were mainly impressed by the music as well, otherwise Kewlers wouldn't have decided to release a music disk with remixes of Mel Funktion's and Little Bitchard's soundtrack. The music disk "Variform Remixed", which was released in late November 2005, contains 15 tunes made by the following artists: Alkama, Dixan, Fred, Frequent, Funk, Gargaj, Jari Pitkänen, Little Bitchard (LB), Lug00ber, Odex, Optimize, Pinza, Takomo and Wonder. All of these tunes are .mp3 files, just like the original soundtrack of the Variform demo. The total playback duration is 1:07:11.

The .mp3 files can be played in an external player or in the proprietary player supplied with this music disk. The latter was coded by Curly Brace (a.k.a. rainmaker). It looks very fancy, displaying graphical effects resembling the original demo in the background (although according to Curly Brace they took far less time developing) while displaying a scroller with messages and comments from the composers of the current tune. According to the infofile, this player requires a graphics card with a multitexturing unit and OpenGL support. The handling is not too comfortable, it's all keyboard-based. You cannot select the song from a list, you can only switch to the previous or next tune. This reminds me of the Pain diskmag. In short: looks good, controls bad.

The tunes are of very different styles. Some sound distorted and ugly, while others sound melodic and cute. My favourite is #7 (Sorryform Remix by Frequent). Here's the full list:

01. 'Variform (Vocoder Rap Remix)' (LB)

02. 'Variform (Multiform Remix)' (Alkama)

03. 'Variform (Frequentiform Remix)' (Frequent)

04. 'Variform (Odex Remix)' (Odex)

05. 'Variform (Takomo Remix)' (Takomo)

06. 'Variform (Varifoam Remix)' (Dixan)

07. 'Variform (Sorryform Remix)' (Frequent)

08. 'Variform (Horn-y House Cut)' (Pinza)

09. 'Variform (Scientyst Remiks)' (Fred Funk)

10. 'Variform (Surface Mix)' (Gargaj)

11. 'Variform (Wonder Remix)' (Wonder)

12. 'Variform (Optimize & Lug00ber Remix)' (O & L)

13. 'Variform (Sinus Remix)' (Jari Pitkänen)

14. 'Variform (Beta)' (Mel Funktion & LB)

15. 'Variform (Instrumental)' (Mel Funktion & LB)

The last two tunes stand out of the mass: "Variform (Beta)" is the tune which had been created before Curly Brace coded the demo in order to give him clues where to place the effects and how to synchronize it with the music. The melody is clearly different than the one of the final tune. By the way, it was originally created using Impulse Tracker. "Variform (Instrumental)" is the final, original tune of the demo, but without voice samples ("We are back" and the like). According to the information displayed in the scroller of this music disk, it was included upon request from some people.

If you're a fan of Variform, then you'll probably also like this disk. You'll not only listen to some remixes of the original demo soundtrack, but you'll also learn a few facts about the making of the demo. This may be especially interesting for people who don't have experience in demo-making themselves and will perhaps be surprised to learn that the work on single effects took weeks to months. But be warned: Unless you have broadband, it's going to be a long download - 95 Mb packed.