Whether you grew up with a computer in the ’80s, pirated a copy of Photoshop in the 2000s or ran a benchmark on a video card last year, you’ve come into contact with a cracktro in one form or another. Also called a Crack Intro or Loader, these screens were first appended to pirated software in the late 70s and early 80s by the groups that cracked them. They served as digital graffiti, a way for the cracking “crew” to stake their claim, brag about their accomplishments and shout out to friends and rivals.
As such they rapidly evolved into ever more elaborate feats of visual programming until some coders detached their efforts from the shadier side of things. By 1986 the movement became known as the Demoscene and would later inspire benchmarking software to find dazzling ways to tax computer hardware. The legacy of the cracktro would also be carried on beyond the 90s in the form of keygens; tiny programs that generate serial keys for pirated software.
Wrapped up in that thirty year history is the music that accompanied the illicit cracktros, trainers and keygens, some of which outmatched the games they were attached to. While crews have left their calling cards on virtually every platform, this playlist (which can’t be embedded here) by YouTuber Zeusdaz features solely the Amiga. So prolific was the cracking scene back then that even this incomplete collection clocks in at an astounding eight and a half hours. It serves as a great intro to cracktros, offers a time capsule-like glimpse into the scene and it was even captured directly from a real Amiga. No emulation from Zeusdaz! It’s also a convenient playlist to pop on for quick audio/visual party ambiance.
Tracking down the coding composers behind these tunes is an even more daunting challenge and one I’d like to dig into… someday. For now I’ll point curious parties to Wikipedia, Cracktros.org, SceneMusic and Kestra Bitworld to see how deep the cracktro hole goes. I can’t remember any by name but there are definitely some cracktros and keygens I would repeatedly load up just to listen to. What about you? Any memorable crack or trainer tunes? Do you know another good source for even more cracktro themes? Let us know below.
Disclaimer: Original Sound Version does not endorse software piracy for the sake of listening to cracktros, no matter how cool their music might be.
We’re all familiar with the likes of Humble Bundle and the Game Music Bundle but there are a handful of other bundling sites out there. Groupees is especially noteworthy as it regularly bundles games, music, graphic novels and digital art collections. Sometimes it’s a game and its soundtrack, other times the collections are curated by a game’s creator or even left to you to pick and choose individual items.
Debuting this week is the Badass Banana Bundle curated by eccentric electronic musician, Remute. The bundle includes nine games, five albums and access to a livestream on July 13th where Remute will mix a bunch of his favorite 16-bit game music. Giving the bundle its name is You Are Not a Banana, a humorous, pixelart audiovisual experiment that includes its own chiptune soundtrack. Other highlights include Remute’s 2009 album Grand Slam, a collection of Frederic “Elmobo” Motte’s demoscene tracks from the late 80’s/early 90’s and his entire soundtrack to the Amiga game, Fury of the Furries.
You can get all of that for a minimum donation of only $2.00 but you can give as much as you’d like. The bundle is scheduled to end on July 15th.
I first started writing music on a computer in 1987, and nearly 30 years later I realized how important simple, fundamental things really are. My youngest son is five, and was taken by a 25 key synthesizer I recently acquired (the Korg Triton Taktile 25). He wanted one too, and I told him “you can have one, but you need to learn at least a little music first. This is no toy.” And with those words I realized the same words were just as true for me.
So with that in mind, with this bit of writing I’m going to talk about MODs, and the Demo Scene.
If you’re a fan on the international chip music and demoscene, you’ll be pleased to know that earlier this month saw the release of “The Blossoming Years” album by Russian demo artist Sergey “MmcM” Kosov. Composed entirely on the ZX-Spectrum computer using a Yamaha YM2149F sound chip in ProTracker 3, the album features music from the height of Kosov’s career composing between 1999 and 2001. This is his first release since his 2012 eletronica album “Detuned”, and further expands his repertoire of demo and chip music, which has gained him a long-standing following.
“The Blossoming Years” by MmcM – Ubiktune
Simon Smith, aka “sitorimon,” the blogger behind Higher Plain Music, is releasing his own album later this year. The album, titled “Terms & Conditions To Unconditional Love,” is an album inspired by relationships and break-ups, and also quite clearly inspired by the kind of music Simon enjoys (including VGM). As a result, it’s an album we’ll be watching for when it hits the Internet.
I have a soft spot in my hearts for writers and critics who cross the fence and create their own content. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m looking forward to what Simon will do with this new album.
The above and below teaser tracks are instrumental only. The final album will have vocals as well. What do you think of the ambient electronic style of these tracks?
So I recently discovered a handy-dandy new label that specializes in getting indie and/or fanmade arrangements of VGM licensed and legally distributed: Joypad Records. They’ve published the music of violinist Lindsey Stirling (see: Skyrim Theme, iTunes) and they’re working with many other musicians to legally release more awesome fantastic VGM arrangements.
One artist in partnership with Joypad is Blake Robinson, who is better known as the one-man crew behind the Synthetic Orchestra. If you check out his covers, they are a variety of vanilla transcription and totally redone arrangements for a variety of classic VGM themes, put to a synth orchestra that’s mighty close to life-like (listen to it through your speakers from a distance while talking to someone else, and you’ll think it’s the real thing: only a close listen on headphones reveals otherwise).
I’ve been listening to Blake’s covers for awhile now, but what really impressed me is that he also has some fantastic original compositions. These compositions, compiled on a simply-titled “Originals Volume 1,” are the subject of the following review. Join me after the jump to learn more! (more…)
Over 150 game, anime, and related albums were released this past August at Comiket 82. That’s a lot of music: I’ll never hear 95% of it.
But I sit up and pay attention to the second album in a new original works / demo series from Pinokiti Records, “Fruited Vagabond.” Featuring music from some of Namco’s best in-house composers, as well as some new faces that generally only work in the doujin scene, these albums feature some really enjoyable dance/electronic music.
After the jump, we have the Soundcloud demo reel for the album, as well as my impressions of all five tracks. (more…)
Every six months, Comiket sweeps Japan, and a boatload of doujin music albums are released (alongside some legitimate game and anime soundtracks, as well).
Generally, it’s just too much for one person to take in. You could easily spend $1000 there and still miss something cool. Especially if you’re down with all things Touhou-related.
Recently, one of our friends at SEMO (Don Kotowski) pointed us in the direction of “Fruited Vagabond.” It’s essentially a demo reel of music made in FL Studio, one track per composer, and the composers being some of Namco’s greatest assets (AJURIKA, Ryo Watanabe, Hiroshi Okubo, etc).
Tomorrow, we’ll have a review of the album newly released “Fruited Vagabond Vol.2” from Comiket 82. But before that, we have a review of the first album, which is four tracks and runs 24 minutes. After the jump, our review (alongside some soundcloud samples, hurray!). (more…)
We’ve never talked about Troupe Gammage here on OSV, but we probably should have been. I’ve known him since we was a young kid back in the demoscene, and he’s constantly impressed me with his ability to craft ridiculously catchy melodies and for the contrast between his manly voice and boyish appearance. Well, I was recently surprised to see his name pop up on VGMdb with the Mutant Mudds OST which is simply incredible. It’s streamable and available for name-your-own-price on Bandcamp, so check it out.
Beyond that, I was recently turned on to Gammage’s indie synth rock band, SPEAK, and their amazing single, “Carrie.” As it turns out, Gammage prepared an 8-bit remix of “Carrie” while working on Mutant Mudds, and it’s equally worth your attention along with the band’s debut album, I Believe in Everything (also streamable).
Let us know what you think of Mutant Mudds, SPEAK, and the “Carrie” remix!
You may not remember our coverage of Josh “Darkhalo” Barnett in the past. We covered his release Phase Shift in addition to hosting a lengthy interview with the demoscene legend (he hates being called that, which makes it all the more fun), and he’s just put out an brand new album titled A Million Drops. While the million reasons to check it out may be an exaggeration, the I can think of at least thirteen reasons (hint: there are thirteen tracks), and an additional one is that it’s entirely free.
Interestingly, Barnett calls the album more of a compilation of tracks written around the same time as opposed to an album with any sort of theme, but I think the pieces all fit together pretty well. A brief ambient opener titled “Nightfall” eases you into another dimension where dreamy soundscapes are paired with funky basslines and subdued drum ‘n’ bass-style percussion. Many of tracks including the funky “Lost Memory” and the aptly titled “Another Rainy Saturday” with raindrop-like percussion make great use of repetition, mesmerizing and weaving dream-like atmospheres while you’ll chill out with “Rei” and “Low Light Affection,” bop your head to “Fading Inexorably,” and smile to with the incredibly playful “TMGC Carabiner.” Darkhalo also gets back into the drum ‘n’ bass that the’s known for, but still retains the overall atmosphere with the dark and lengthy “Ash Rain,” the highly electronic “Neuromancer,” and the icy “Wintermute.” And it’s all wonderfully produced; it’s unfair just how multi-talented some people are (Barnett is also a talented graphic artist and web designer as you can see from his website).
The album’s available for free on the aforementioned website along with lots of other music, so check it out and let us know what you think. Is this the perfect music for a cold rainy day, or perhaps for any time?
I’m too young to have experienced most of the joys of the Commodore Amiga, but I did develop a taste for the music from this era while delving into the musical history of the demoscene as both a fan and amateur composer. Many of the composers working on the Amiga were legends and heroes in the demoscene, so I have a natural affinity for much of the music from that time.
Well, here’s a perfect example of judging a book by its cover. I’ve seen the Immortal CD series pop on VGMdb from time to time and never paid them much attention. That is, until very recently. As it turns out, the series celebrates the best music from the Amiga scene with arrangements from several classic titles arranged by the composers themselves in many cases. And yes, there’s lots of Chris Huelsbeck!
Hit the jump for our review of the two most recent releases in the series, Immortal 3 and Immortal 4. (more…)