Home​-​Made Tunes (1)

by The FE90 Project

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    There are a few bonus tracks (remixes of some well known or not so well known Jungle / Hardcore classics) which are only available if you buy the album, making it up to the full 1hr25min duration of the original tape.

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In 1994 I finally got a second hand Amiga 500, or rather my brother got it and I borrowed it often. I was looking through the batch of magazine cover discs that it came with and found a program called OctaMed on one of them. It was a program that used samples and it's own kind of synthesis to allow you to write music. This is the type of program that is commonly known as a tracker, rather than a sequencer. The disc had a few poor quality samples included, and there were more on some other discs.

I was always interested in music that used samples, Hip Hop, House, Hardcore and at that time Jungle was the big thing. So, being a young bedroom DJ and being into music from a very early age I naturally pushed myself to learn the program inside out and start producing my own tunes. Using the bundle of samples provided with the program I set about trying to do something.

Spin on a bit, I'd gotten frustrated with not being able to sample myself, so I'd got hold of a 'Technosound Turbo' sampler and started trying to record things in with varying degrees of success. Also, I didn't have a lot of sources to sample from and didn't have the 'Amen' break in full, but I purchased the Urban Shakedown sample discs which did have that break on them.

The album presented here is basically a TDK FE90 (worst type that TDK ever made, but cheap!) tape that has somehow survived being leant to friends for years and stored in bad conditions, which is the only media record of the first tunes I produced using the setup described above. The OctaMed files were deleted a short time after the tape was recorded.

The tracks in reality need a lot more work, and are about 25% finished. The beats are messy, arrangements and structure all over the place, the riffs are kind of childish (I was also into Happy Hardcore at the time!), there is no mixdown as such, the left channel of the tape fades in and out (I've kept only the right channel), it's hissy and it's crap - but that's the beauty of it. I realise there is probably a small market for this kind of thing, so I thought I would put it out and see what happens.

On the Amiga, you had 4 tracks to work with They could only play one note at a time, so some people on the Amiga demo scene looked at this limitation and decided it was a nice challenge to write complicated music and use all sorts of tricks to get around the problems. Other people, like myself, just wanted to write simple dance music. We still had to use some tricks though.

There was a program that could do timestretching, but I never had a copy - so the timestretching you hear in the tunes is done by rapidly re-triggering the sample whilst adjusting the sample start offset value. Programming the drums was probably easier to do in OctaMed than in Cuebase because there was no having to pencil things in, you could enter things really quickly from the keyboard, chop the samples directly in the tracker, copy, reverse, etc... It was all right there, no need for an outboard sampler.

Sample quality was only 8bit samples at 22k or less! The Amiga was very good at producing heavy bass though, and the 8-bit low sample rate may have been part of the reason for this. When you consider that tracks by Urban Shakedown and Aphrodite were still being written in Med in the early 00's, you realise it had a lot going for it really, even if they'd added an Akai S3000 to the studio for better sound by then.

Spooky - The first Amen tune I ever wrote. It uses a sample from Lemmings II (and other Jungle tunes of the time were using the same sample I should add) amongst others I'd largely ripped off of other Jungle tunes.

As One - I reversed the reversed vocals in a couple of DJ SS tunes and used them in my own tracks, this being one if them (not sure if the other tune was even worth recording to tape). A Happy Hardcore tune with that worn out peace, love and unity message. This also rips off Rabbit City Volume One. There is another version without that riff, but it only survives as an incomplete version at the end of the tape.

War and Crime - I think I just sampled the ragga vocal off of pirate radio. I was desperate for any usable ragga stuff. There is a light airy hardcore riff, then it goes all dark with a sample from the Urban Shakedown discs. Gets a bit boring in the middle I think.

Stick-Em - Another sample from the US discs and another Hardcore track. Horns from Living in Darkness towards the end too, playing a really awful riff!

Livitup - This samples an old Ska / Rocksteady tune from a cassette I had copied off of somebody else. Using the old Kurtis Blow break and a warp bass.

Manix vs Nookie - I don't know what this was originally called. It's definitely got a simple piano Jungle vibe about it, so somewhere between what Manix and Nookie used to do.

Now Risspekt - Another one I can't remember the original name of. Hardcore again. The piano stab riff is a bit mad. Some crap scratching and use of MAW pads in there too.

Natty Music - After an airy intro, a Jamaican voice stretched out says 'natty nusic y'know!'. Another sample from that Ska / Rocksteady tape. Dropping into a warp bass and echo-y breaks, then a hardcore riff and so on and so forth.

The next few tracks are remixes and are only for those who buy the album. These are followed by some alternative versions of three of the original tracks.

Hope you enjoy...


released November 30, 2014

Written, produced, mixed and mastered by The FE90 Project 1994 / 1995



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