Deep house music is a very potent genre when it has wings. The agenda isn’t just to massage your tired body with a softer vibe after slowly burning away on the dance floor, but rather to lift you up and take you up into the atmosphere. As opposed to commanding your energy, it asks you to take a breather, to set your eyes on something else, but not at the price of your momentum. It fairly serves as an embodiment of the nighttime: free-flowing, breezy, and uncluttered. At this time the party’s mass may have dissipated, but damned if the beats have.
Coyote Clean Up can vouch for this. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Ice Cold Chrissy, as he’s called, is thoroughly under the influence of these deep, breezy vibes. Coated in ice-cold ambiance and soothing vocals, 2 Hot 2 Wait throws you into a layered dance experience with a decidedly dream pop edge. Not a high-energy album by any means, though hardly a passive listen, the music on display here is interesting because it’s crystalline, though not crystal-clear either. If 2 Hot 2 Wait were a room, it would be filled with fog and mirrors; late-night aerobics DVD infomercials looping infinitely on the tv, the vaguely dim light of the DVR seen blinking just a few feet above. Though assorted vocal samples are used as part of the instrumentation, they are hardly ever the focus, and neither are the beats for that matter. Rather, the focus is on the deep, hazy melodies, crafting a sound that resembles a more ethereal and hazy Crystal Castles. Synthesizers help set up a sort of faded light show amidst all this haze, which lends the album a particular penchant for getting you pumped up without being a high-octane affair.
Double Dip Dub
Fall Layers Focused
After a long break from the series I’m back with the next five in the series.
The Fallen by Paul Langan
In this sequel to ‘Brothers in Arms’, we follow Martin Luna as he sits in a schoool hearing close to being expelled from Bluford High, This is his last chance to show and tell everyone his tory. Can we convince them to give another chance and stay at Bluford?
Shattered by Paul Langan
The follow up to ‘Until We Meet Again’ , ‘ Summer of Secrets, and ‘Blood is Thicker’ See Darcy Wills continue with her terrible secret. Things seem to get worse when Hakeem Randell returns to finish his year at Bluford. Darcy is worried, little does she know that Hakeem has his own secret too, and it will test their friendship and change Continue reading
Tom Hooper aka Atomp
Plague Inc. started life as a mobile game, the developer who from what I’ve read created it in his free time attempted to use as accurate modelling as possible whilst making the game fun, it’s now coming to PC and is currently an Early Access title on Steam. The game itself is a little grim in its nature, the player controls the genetic makeup of a disease, altering the traits of the disease according to need. Progression occurs as the player unlocks new types of disease; bacteria, virus, fungus and so on. An interesting tid-bit of information is the fact that the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) took an interest in the game when it was still on the mobile platform and hosted the developer at their headquarters where they talked with him about the game, how the spreading algorithms and such worked and even gave some feedback on improving the title. When a game focussed on disease spreading is picked up on by the CDC there’s certainly some interest to be shown, I’ll include a link to the blogpost about the visit.
The main screen of Plague Inc. is a world map which is broken down into the various nations on the planet, each of which have different properties which alter how they respond to infection. This information is all available in an info screen and it is wise to take note of the information provided. Wealth, climate, population, population density and level of development are all measured and will alter the uptake of your disease. These nations are interconnected via land routes but also by sea and airports, each of which can be shut down or limited, requiring different genetic adaptations. The disease itself can be modified initially with genetic boosters which are unlockable through completing elements of the game and will give an initial stat bonus to your disease. Then during the game the disease has modifiable transmission traits, symptoms and abilities. These are unlocked with the DNA resource and follow a tech-tree style unlock style. The three different trees are not mutually exclusive and changes in one will combine with changes in another, for example certain symptoms can make transmission far more likely especially when combined with certain transmission traits or abilities. Progression occurs through the unlockable differing disease types and this goes some way to breaking up some of the repetition involved as the disease types essentially create different game modes and require differing strategies. The bacteria for example is fairly easy to control and can be dispersed quietly before becoming lethal however other later unlocks have time sensitive natures or progress out of control and need differing strategies.
The modelling is really quite well done, what with the variables I mentioned above combined with symptomatic variables arising on an individual victim scale whilst having a significant effect. It is possible to include neurological effects in the disease which depending on how many points are sunk into it will produce anything from insomnia to Continue reading
From the livingroom carpet mixtapes of Samiyam to the smoky jive of Knxwledge, the wonky instrumental hip-hop scene has proven by several artists to be great music to just hang out to. It doesn’t demand your attention the way lyrically-driven raps would, but it’s not a sound prone to dissolve into the background like straight-up ambient music, either. The beats are the heartbeat that keeps the vibe alive, and the soulful, jazzy instrumentals lay you out and spread you smoothly like jelly on toast. Some artists have achieved incredible things in pursuit of this ideology (look no further than Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus), and it’s incredibly fun to watch players on the scene in hopes that they’ll someday accomplish equally impressive things. In particular, I’m looking at you, DZA.
Situated in Moscow, Sasha Dza in a nutshell crafts your garden variety hybrid of wonky electronics and sexy hip-hop beats, ideally music that someone should rap over in the future. Though experts of this sound (like the aforementioned Flying Lotus) have succeeded in making their music interesting and vibrant enough to rarely need to be littered with verbal language, Five Finger Discount still somewhat aches to be rapped over. Not that the music isn’t pretty occupied here; tattered and distorted synths writhe between scratchy beats on “Eskimo”, just before a smoother, warmer piece massages your mind down in the form of “Shifty” only to have “Uproar in Heaven” pick things up with a calming, slightly unnerving oriental beat. The mood is consistently dank and mellow, and each song has a new idea to show off, some of which do so with a subtle elegance (“Softgram”). In general, not enough of these ideas really come off as super memorable, nor is the album’s flow terribly exciting despite a charming vinyl crackle weaving each song together (and an occasionally annoying ringing noise that sounds like tinnitus). In spite of this, however, I can’t help but see potential in the whirring, effervescent electronics of “Homeparty,” the dramatic Rap Supervillain theatrics of “Out of Time,” or Atari’s night out in Vegas in “Hey Rake!” Even every now and then I’m reminded of jewels like Los Angeles through some cavorting beats and jovial energy, evident on “Downtown Honeymoon.” Continue reading
Tom Hooper aka Atomp
I’ve something of a soft spot for silly, arcadey driving games and as Next Car Game is installed and my net connection is down thanks to scumbag copper thieves it will be this weeks review. The more serious and hardcore games/simulations tend to be a little dull and are designed to appeal to an audience that like to get all sweaty over cars and take the whole thing far too seriously. Me, I’m not particularly fond of cars in real life in much the same way I’m not particularly fond of murder in real life (the two are often related but passed off as “accidents”), but in digital form where consequences don’t matter such things can be quite fun. This is where the ever so creatively named Next Car Game enters the fray, with its destruction derby basis this is a game about racing and smashing up battered old cars in a variety of settings. The game is Early Access and is in active development with the developers taking into account community feedback after each update, which is nice to see as the game may well benefit from having such feedback. The studio is also responsible for the FlatOut series of games, so despite this being Early Access this isn’t exactly an inexperienced and untested indie.
The game currently consists of a functional racing engine with a few tracks, however the garage and progression elements are not in the game yet. This means that in its current state the game is very playable but not complete. The recent patch added a figure-of-eight derby track to the lineup and this is magnificent fun, reminding me very much of the old Destruction Derby games I played on the PS1. Other tracks include a gravel track, a tarmac track and a derby stadium with each playing slightly differently. The car selection at this stage includes a generic American muscle-car, a generic small European car, and a generic American sedan. These all have different handling and damage characteristics, for example the rear/center engine mounting on the European car makes it able to sustain significant damage in head on collisions without too much worry over critical engine damage as opposed to the muscle car which is best suited to reverse collisions. The damage modelling Continue reading
As I sit in the midst of The Magic Place trying to assemble words that describe the ethereal world I’ve been transported to, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to remain professional and avoid falling off the tightrope into effervescent poetry and word vomit, losing my credibility to recommend this subtly beautiful piece of music at the price of self-indulgent imagery. As much as I’d love to give you a tour of my mediocre poetry skills, I’ll try not to lose my readers as I escort you through the pathways of a sound that is, in fact, very easy to get lost in.
This album’s substantiality is less a sound to describe and more so a world to explore. Barwick embellishes the album from top to bottom with lush, dreamy vocals and serve as sort of the force field that makes up a drifting, formless realm as if there to remind you that there’s a soul to this otherwise bleak, ethereal dreamscape. Her voice provides a calming ambiance and angelic nature on top of being the core of the music, utilizing choir-like chants and Enya-isms in the mix as well. The atmosphere created by her voice is incredibly lush, and much like the album artwork accurately defines, is very forest-like, and occasionally chimes in a rather Celtic fashion.
Tom Hooper aka Atomp
I’ve been following Banished for a while as it seemed as if it may scratch a particular city-building itch I have. I have fond memories of creating enormous monstrous economies within the likes of Age of Empires 2. Such games would often evolve into kettling the AI with small, highly efficient AI-busting armies (30 fully upgraded longbowman in a square formation around 10 monks) and then spending the other 80% of the population cap on workers, attempting to strip every resource from the map until all that remained was trade and massively over-priced resource purchases. Banished is not like this, and to be fair I knew it wouldn’t be but the setting and survival purity of it was convincing enough for me to follow its development. Banished is a medieval era city-builder that is in the same ballpark as Anno however with no combat whatsoever, the economic simulation is limited to a barter economy and there is no tech tree. In this sense Banished borrows from a couple of different genres as the city-building isn’t so different from the likes of Anno however the focus of the game is far more on survival and primitive economics like Dwarf Fortress. That said the game can be pretty unforgiving and had I not spent the week before launch watch Quill18 play and experiment in the game I’d be having a much harder time with it, so as a preliminary recommendation I would suggest that if this review or the game interests you then you should watch Quill18’s Banished series on Youtube as it will give you a really good idea of what the game is like and some of the basics.
First of all I’d like to emphasize that there are some interesting little quirks to the Banished resource management system, the displays available to you are actually the numbers of stockpiled materials; wood, food, firewood and the like. This is important as because of this those numbers are not an accurate descriptor of the actual amount of these resources in circulation. Residents will not take resources directly from the stockpile for their own needs, instead members of the household will take resources for the house in bulk. This means that even if the stockpile is empty there are likely resources in circulation stored in the house inventories or individual citizen inventories. With this understood the massive drops in resources that can happen make a great deal more sense and planning can be changed accordingly. Another key point that I’d like to make in order to ease you into Banished if you decide to try it is that the number of houses you have does not necessarily determine population, but instead the rate of population growth and for this reason they should be built very sparingly and with a great deal of planning. Due to the birth-death cycle a village with a constant number of dwellings will still grow in population and normally at a comfortable and manageable rate, the best indicator os which is normally the ratio of producers to dependants. The major killer of Banished villages tends to be overly rapid growth, as such excessive growth tends to produce a large dependant population which must be fed, heated and clothed whilst not contributing back. This is just the way with Banished, some might say that its brutal difficulty and unforgiving nature punish experimentation and on a single-game basis that may be correct. However the survival element of Banished means that failing is just a part of the game and having a village collapse due to a mistake is a lesson in what not to do rather than some fault in game design. Continue reading
Bandcamp is a wonderful place. All it takes is a teeny weeny spark of interest and a less-than-busy afternoon to dive into a vast mound of albums and artists and cherry pick some humble, hidden gems to add to your music library. How much of it will be soaked in mediocrity at the end of the day is irrelevant; the ambition to find something you enjoy is a quest that rarely ceases to tickle the avid music lover pink. Not that there’s any shortage of underdeveloped, forgettable recycle bin fodder, but there are lavish rewards to be found given a good enough search and an open mind. I sure do love me some bandcamp.
This little piece I’ve found, Spazzkid’s little album Desire 願, doesn’t really perch on either extreme end of the quality spectrum in terms of good finds, but it’s definitely good. One part Shlohmo, one part Friendzone, the hazy, beat-driven chillwave on display here possesses a solid deal of variety and points of interest, for accessibility’s sake. Though the album starts up a little slowly, with “Getting to Know You” carried by a warm beat cushioned between blurry vocals and Friendzone-style chopped-up j-pop samples hampered by a simple case of being too long for its own good (at 5 minutes, the track doesn’t really go anywhere), there are several moments where the album showcases a confident, complete sound and has fun with it accordingly. When it’s not doing that, the album is instead honing its assorted influences, with a jovial piano samples skittering in a Machinedrum fashion on “Loving Free” and “If Not You then Who,”while elsewhere there’s a subdued, echoing dream pop vibe unfolding on “Candy Flavored Lips,” as well as traces of chiptune and 8-bit shenanigans every here and there.
Tom Hooper aka Atomp
So apparently I have been tasked with writing this weeks review in accordance with some form of romantic Valentines stuff, which raised an issue: I don’t really play or even have any game that could be considered romantic in any way. Then it struck me that I do own and regularly update one game that truly encompasses the devious, underhanded, back-stabbing and unscrupulous nature of this most strange of holidays: Crusader Kings 2 (CK2). I’ve recently purchased and installed the Old Gods and Sons of Abraham expansions, although due to time constraints I’ll only really be looking at the Old Gods here. In addition, despite having 80 odd hours play time on CK2, I’m still only really comfortable in a more traditional Christian Western European role and therefore I played primarily as Brittany for this bout. Even so, the changes made by The Old Gods were evident and certainly modified how I played the game.
The first change of note is the pushing back of the start date to 867 AD, which adds a significant amount of time to a play,through. Not only that, but the political landscape is entirely different in 867 AD compared to the 1066 AD start date of old. Large united entities and often still their divided and independent constituents means that even without the changes made to the Pagan factions the potential for an entirely different Europe come 1066 AD is high. As Brittany, this new start date was pleasant as it gave me a real chance of not being swallowed whole by France which at this stage is still divided between Aquitaine and West Francia. It also meant starting out with the neighbouring province of Nantes in Norse hands. I’m somewhat thankful that it was in Norse hands because not only did that allow me to explore the potential of Holy War against Pagans but it also meant I didn’t have to try and fight a much larger entity like West Francia for control.
Something I quickly realized about the improved Pagan factions is that despite only owning a single small province, they can really really pack a punch and it took some mercenary business to see off their initial death stack on declaring war. This I’d imagine comes from the main objective of the Norse factions: pillaging. Which brings me neatly onto the next advantage of hitting Norse held Nantes; being a Holy War, it pulled in Pagan reinforcements as well as a large contingent of Christian troops. This had the effect of bashing the local Pagan forces hard enough to bring a few years relatively clear of the unending stream of Pagan raiding parties that bothered the coastal regions. It’s also worth noting that whilst Brittany/I was having the occasional irritating band of pillagers, various divided petty kingdoms of England were having large chunks of their North East being occupied by the Norse. These raiding parties set forth and gained prestige and gold through pillaging and escaping, making them an interesting problem to deal with as they were far less likely to stand and fight and would run for their longboats at the first sign of significant resistance. Continue reading
Attention DJ’s of SL: are your parties lacking oomph? Are your late evenings getting dry of those saturated vibes your people crave? Is the bittersweet sunset that epilogues your fathomless event sorely needing a smooth sonic massage? Well look no further, harbingers of the beat: the gods of good times bestow upon you a cleansing experience, a baptism to wash last night’s sins away: tonight we’re getting down with Izmo’s Early Night. This album is generous in with the mood food, ideal for any deep house party you may be musically catering and still a treat for those who have but a passing interest in house music.
Warm beats, and I mean really warm beats, fill Early Night from crotch to follicles. If you are brandishing trill tunes for your people, you can’t go wrong with deep house packages this lush. To elicit motion from your mind and body, and to decorate the earwaves with comfort and zest is Izmo’s mission, and he delivers without a skip in his step. Your stage can be anything from a vacation resort club, a thumping pool party, or simply a night in at home, and your guests are guaranteed to get down, money back. Continue reading