Live Jamming with Small Instruments

Started making music with lots of little beepy things.

Here we have a DMG Game Boy running LSDJ, an iPhone running iKaossilator, and iPad 2 running Animoog, a PO-20 and a Kaoss Pad Mini – trying to do a cover of John Carpenter’s theme from Assault on Precinct 13

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Telestro Records

Hello there!  Time for the regular catch up of what I’ve been up to.

In a word – MUSIC!

Since Don’t Die Mr Robot launched on iOS and PS4, I’ve had a lot more time to work on the music stuff.

The first announcement for the music stuff I suppose is we’ve started a record label to independently distribute the music we make.  It’s called Telestro Records.

www.telestrorecords.com

Telestro Records first release is a mini-EP called Hotline featuring music we made which was licensed by a game from Adult Swim Games called Wasted. These versions from the Wasted soundtrack are all lovingly touched up for this electronic release and we hope you guys enjoy 🙂

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We made the intro and outro tune for the game, and from what we’ve seen it’s completely mental.  Definitely worth picking up 🙂

Hotline is the tune used in the games introduction, and Supernova is the game ending song.

Next up for Telestro Records – getting ready for our big full album release and looking into music videos D:

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Don’t Die iOS!

Wahoo! On good Friday, we release Don’t Die Mr. Robot on iOS.

And, mega excite engage, it was Featured in Best Games 🙂

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…nice!

Dont Die Mr Robot – PS4

Yeah! I’ve finally created and self published a PS4 game with my main man Charlie.

How rad is that!  And all thanks to this really super amazing guy called Richard Ogden who did the port work.

It’s pretty inexpensive at £2.89 – a price we hope will encourage people who wouldn’t normally try an indie game experience to give it a punt.

It’s been getting some remarkably good reviews!  Two 9/10 scores and a lot of love for the music (yay!)

Fingers crossed people buy it!

It’s up on the PSN store here as a bundle with the Vita version

https://store.playstation.com/#!/en-gb/games/don’t-die-mr-robot/cid=EP4514-CUSA02782_00-DONTDIEMROBOTBUN

 

Hello, chums!

Been quiet lately, I know.  That’s because we’ve been making this

2016 should be an interesting year 🙂 DDMR PS4 and iOS due for launch in February.  The Death Ray Manta album whenever the game comes out.  Wing Kings being developed now for PS4, PSVita and XBox One. All that and whatever life throws up in between.  Looking forward to it.

Oko Furia – Ludum Dare 33 entry collaboration

I made some audio and assisted with the design of this fun little game for Ludum Dare 33!

It’s going down quite well, and we’re currently looking into making an iOS release of this with the help of Jeff from Psychic Parrot.

You can read the game jam page where the game was launched here.  Some lovely comments from people enjoying the game and the audio there too!

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Motet – GBJam4

Hello!

I teamed up with a lad called Tselmek to enter GBJam #4.

GBJam is a competition where people make as authentic a Game Boy game experience as possible but modern machines are allowed.  There’s specific restrictions which one must adhere to, like limited colour palette authentic to the original DMG Game Boy, and must sound like a Game Boy too.

That’s where I come in!  So I used LSDJ to create the title theme and the in-game ambience, as well as using it to create some sound effects by pissing about with the noise and pulse wave channels.  I should do that again, it turned out quite nice.

I think the element I’m most proud of in this music is creating a hummable theme in the style of the sort of tune you’d have on a title screen in 1989.  Catchy, a bit cheap, a bit crummy but rather likeable.  Although you be the judge!

motet

The game is a fantastic, original little puzzler.  The gameplay is reminiscent of a combination of Soko-Ban and Deflektor.  You control an adventurer who must use the beams of light from a limited number of jewels to illuminate ancient artifacts thus completing a level.

There’s thirty levels and each one is genuinely fun and original.  They get blissfully tricky too, so why not download it (it’s free!), vote for it, and have some 8-bit monochrome fun!

You can visit Motet on its GameJolt page here.  You can also hear my tunes on that page too.

I was very proud to be a part of this and I hope in future to collaborate with Tselmek again on more Game Jams.

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New Game Boy / LSDJ tune – Geranium

Here is a new tune I did on my Game Boy with LSDJ.

The main goal for this one was to try and get a decent sounding kick drum in the mix.  I also wanted to try something a bit more tough and slow.  But it ended up going fast anyway 🙂

Making music with LSDJ

So the other day I ordered myself a modified Game Boy so I could make some music on it.  I got it from the excellent Game Boy Mods UK.  The one I ordered has a Pro-Sound Mod (which makes the output a bit louder and less crackly) – a new headphone jack for that, two RCA jacks out the top for super lovely sound output, a backlight (for playing in the dark) and a bivert mod (which makes the contrast a bit better.) Here it is… My Modified Game BoySo why bother making music on a shitty old 1989 original DMG Game Boy?  Well, basically because it sounds cool as fuck. Yeah you can emulate these sounds with plugins for your favourite DAW or you can use Mac/PC trackers with these sort of sounds, but you ain’t getting them to sound as nice as the real sounds coming out of the real hardware.

Also, and this is the real masochistic draw for me, you’re subject to serious limitations making tunes on a Game Boy. Without getting too techy, you’ve basically got two channels where you can have notes, one where you can have drums and one where you can have noise.

To make the music, I’m using a programme called LSDJ.  It’s basically a tracker for a Game Boy!  It also works on GBC and GBA’s.  To use the programme you’ll need to buy a license, download the rom and stick it on a flash card.  hqdefaultHere’s what LSDJ looks like.  On first look, it seems like a complete cluster-mare.  It kinda is, but as far as cluster-mares go, it makes a lot of sense.  The UI has been minimised and streamlines so it’s literally *just* what you need with no faff or guff.

If you’ve ever used a Tracker before it should make sense in about 5 minutes once you’ve got your head around the way it breaks down patterns into chains. It’s really good fun to make tunes on LSDJ and if you have a Game Boy and a musical osscicle I’d really recommend this approach to making tunes.  The massive limitations pushes you to be really cunning on how you fill out the sound scape, and having those authentic sounds you grew up with dancing to your own tune feels extremely satisfying.

Here’s a tune I made after owning the device for a week.  I have called it ‘Pickled Egg’ because when I finished it I fancied a pickled egg.

I’m looking forward to learning how to use it better: next mission is to work out how to get a phat kick drum so I can make the music for the Hyper Space Arcade bonus game in my next game ‘Wing Kings’.

That’s it for now, until next time chums!

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The Making Of: The DRM Soundtrack

Hello, chums!

So for the last five or so months, Me and Jenny have been writing some original synth-wave music for Rob Fearon’s upcoming PS4, PSVita (and probably other formats) abstract arcade arena shooter called Death Ray Manta.  No one knows just yet what exactly what Rob has up his bizarro sleeve – but what we can tell you is that he’s making what could be the world’s first synth-pop videogame.

First, a bit of background:

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Jenny and Me

Jenny has been making music for a long time now, having established herself as a one-woman synth pop goliath ‘Jenny And The Giants’.  She released an EP not long ago which was met with great critical acclaim and admiration.

I’ve been making blippy bloop beep videogame music for a while myself under the moniker of Barry Island.

When Jenny and I discovered each other we found ourselves very much enjoying each other’s music and decided to collaborate together on a cover of La Bionda’s 1982 song ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’

This cover version went down quite well, getting airplay on Resonance FM’s ‘One Life Left‘ podcast.

We enjoyed the experience of working together so much we thought, you know, let’s keep doing it!  All we needed was an outlet…

A Fish Like No Other

Having worked with Rob before, knowing what he likes and what would suit his game, we made a proposal, had a chat and agreed to dedicate the next few months writing a concept album for him and his friend Andy White to accompany their revisiting of Death Ray Manta for Sony platforms.

Between us, we used a variety of music creation softwares to get to work on this album.  We wanted a synth-wave vibe, we wanted electo-pop music.  We also wanted to tell the story of a girl who falls in love with a laser firing space-dwelling fish.

I tend to make music using tracker software.  Jenny tends to make music using Logic.  Luckily, our mutual output managed to combine in just the way we’d hoped.  With Jenny’s production skills, sophisticated song writing ability and floaty spacey voice – combined with my unmistakably videogame influenced output – it wasn’t long before we had seven tracks we were all really pleased with.

Writing the music was incredibly fun.  It’s impossible to not enjoy yourself when you’re writing fast, quirky and cool pop music. The tracks are a mixture of my tracker music with Jen’s vocal accompaniment, Jen’s own creations and direct 50/50 combinations of our two techniques.

Mastering

With the album’s content finished in February 2015, next up was mastering.  We found a studio in Bristol that specialised in synthy stuff (and also was within our meagre budget!).  It was mental.  Speakers and vintage synths everywhere.  Mastering is something I don’t know a lot about, so I learned a lot during the process.

Mastering is a much more arduous process compared to the rapid satisfaction of thinking of a melody, arranging and recording it.  It’s all about new stuff I’ve never come across like stopping funny resonance things and dynamic volume levels on parts.  Listening to the same 10 second loop over and over looking for ways to make it sound better.  For all its Guantanamo Bay style psychologically draining qualities, the moment you listen back to the finished track in all its glory its worth all the torture and more!

The Mastering Studio

The Mastering Studio

One of the unexpected bonuses of using this studio was that we were able to increase the authenticity of the synth-wave vibe of the music by replacing some of our midi tracks in Logic with actual vintage synths.  Check out some of these brutes we’ve used:

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I’m not entirely sure what these synths are called.  One’s called the Jupiter something, I know that.  I’ve never been very knowledgeable about hardware.  I’m more of a notes man.  But boy did they look and sound cool!  Using real, authentic era synths instead of synth VSTs added a layer of quality that we are incredibly grateful for.

One synth even had cartridges with FM sounds on.  You can’t beat an FM slap bass!

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Another amazing thing about mastering in a properly kitted out studio is we got to make sure it’ll sound great on all sizes of speakers.  We tried it on shoulder height beasts, palm sized babies and everywhere in between.  The game should sound equally as good on a Vita, a 14inch TV, a home cinema system, headphones or even a car stereo!

What’s Next?

So with the soundtrack now essentially complete save for a couple more sessions in the studio to polish a bit here and there, we’re sitting back and basking in the glory of it all.  And it is quite glorious.

We’ll not release the album until the game is out, but when we do it will be on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, the PSN store and as many other outlets as we can.  We are also doing a limited run of 50 physical CD’s, but more on that closer to the time.

Another really quite splendid thing about the soundtrack album is that the album artwork was created by games industry legend Ste Pickford who’s games I have personally enjoyed for many years (I spent many, many hours playing Wetrix on the N64).  He’s also a lovely guy with a lovely beard.  It’s an absolute honour to have his artwork adorn the album sleeve.

Preview Tracks

We’ll be keeping the album under wraps until release date, but here’s a couple of preview tracks to whet your whistle:

The Vacuum.

This will be one of the six in-game tunes.

A Fish Like No Other

This will be the title theme for the game.

As I write this, we don’t know when the game will be released, but that’s cool because game development shouldn’t be led by release dates.  Things are finished when they’re finished, and if anyone knows how to make a synth-pop abstract arcade arena shooter it’s Rob 🙂

But when the game and its soundtrack is out, we’ll be sure to let you know!

In the mean time, I’ll be going back to making video games and my usual stuff.  But if anyone reading this enjoyed the preview tracks and needs any music for their game, feel free to drop us a line!

Oh yeah, one last thing, this cat also helped master the album.  Her name is Jazz, short for Jasmin.  She’s really old and very sweet.  We call her CATBOT 3000

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CATBOT 3000

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