Retro games and computer music

gulp splat zong von yoda zhang

For anyone, who still remembers the beginning of the video game era: The book GULP SPLAT ZONG describes what happened when Pac Man, Space Invaders, pixelated graphics and strange computer sounds were dominating the arcades, shopping centres, cinemas and other public places in Germany. At the moment, the book is available in German only, but an english version is under construction. You can get the printed hardcover edition here or order the kindle-edition directy at amazon.

Weird computer music from the 70s

Yellow Magic Orchestra

One of the first vinyl records that my brothers has brought home when I was young, was this YMO – Yellow Magic Orchestra. On the front cover there’s a portrait of a woman with a medusa-like hairstyle made of electric cables. On the back you see the four musicians with their weird huge wall-sized synthesizers, holding bunches of cables. Very impressive that is.

The first track is a swelling symphony of video game sounds, getting louder and louder until it leads to the first real song Firecracker, which even has been in the top charts at that time. A groovy Japanese style melody with very creative piano-soli and an intensive crescendo topped by a big explosion.

Number 3, “Simoon”, a slow, melodic and literally out of tune rhumba with vocoder voices. I didn’t like this song when I was young, but now, with more musical understanding, it’s very “ear catching” for me, since it has a very interesting melody and – typical for YMO – weird lyrics. The guys included some real disharmonic sounds, but especially that creates some specific charme in that song. Try to find the lyrics on the web, you will be surprised.

The last song on side A – yes, vinyls have two sides – is “Cosmic Surfin”. This song even today succeeds in confusing me about the beat again and again. Where is the “1″ again?

On side two of the record it all starts again with a slightly shorter version of the computer game sounds, this time with more invader sounds and less circus melodies. It then segues into the “Yellow Magic – Tong Poo” song, which is very beautiful and a nice combination of synthesizer sounds. You may say it’s cheesy, and yes it is, but it’s just beutiful. Real drums, real piano, synthesizer sounds and vocoder voices. And this womans voice is really sexy.

“La Femme Chinoise” – a very interesting topic for japanese, my favourite song. Again a typical asian melody and typical YMO vocoder voices. Say hello to the Roland Space Echo. They included some french lyrics, maybe in order to sound more international. Or maybe as a weird copy of Visage’s Fade To Grey.

“Bridge Over Troubled Music” is a nice title, but doesn’t have anything to do with Simon & Garfunkels song. Maybe they hoped someone will buy the records because they confused the song-titles. Actually it’s not a song but really only a bridge leading to the last song: “Mad Pierrot”. Really mad. Sounds like a copy of the classic Popcorn. But more interesting and more complex. And of course with some spacy vocoder voices. A great ending for this retro synth record. I love it.

Hyper interactive music events

brainwater reactable interactive music events

Have you ever heard about the Reactable? That is some kind of musical table. You put different objects on the table and that generates music. Very weird that is. But very cool at the same time. It is perfectly usable for trade shows, in clubs, bars, vip-lounges. For your event, if you’re planning one and want to have a lot of visitors that will keep talking about your event for a looong time. Brainwater will provide an impressive show for you and your guests.