Rowan Lipkovits (reluctance) wrote,
Rowan Lipkovits
reluctance

"The Bells of Yule" infofile, Dec 17, 2014

This one was initially released in December of 1994, then became lost and unobtainable circa 1998. It's back in circulation now, re-mastered, and hopefully remains that way this time around. For the first time I enjoyed the strange privilege of the bandwidth cap of my ad hoc web hosting being exceeded to due too much interest -- it crapped out after about 4 gigs in a 24 hr period, but with a filesize of 182 megs, 4 gigs gets burned through pretty fast.



In keeping with my recent activity here (and so, well, you can see where the writing has been going), here's its infofile, greatly expanded:

                        .                       .                         .   
      .        .           MiSTiGRiS PROUDLY PRESENTS:       .                
                     _________|`\  ____,___|`\_|   |___33                    .
               *     __, __, __, `\(____-  ,_,'_, _______                     
                     #|'  |'  |'  |'   ,\__,  `|' _|'  |#          .     *
           .         @|___,___,____-__(____,__,'___,__,'@                     
                     (mistigris) (music disk #1) (12/14)  .                   
                     .the bells of yule .1 hr 45 minutes.          *       .  
     *               .of new and vintage computer musics.     .               
                .    . 2014   20th anniversary re-issue .                     
                                                                              
                 .--._.--.--.__.--.--.__.--.--.__.--.--._.--.
               _(_      _Y_      _Y_      _Y_      _Y_      _)_
              [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]
              /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \
             |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |
             \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /
         jgs  \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./
               '='      '='      '='      '='      '='      '='

        In late 1994, we at Mistigris were posed with a formidable proposition
from the fine folks at Digitallusions: here is a 5-piece suite of original
instrumental holiday music, in turns joyous and upbeat, moody, melancholic and
modal, and at times downright grim and eerie -- in short, a corpus appropriate
for summarizing the time of year when things are at their bleakest nadir out on
the blasted, lightless heath... but in brightly-lit rooms, fragile human bodies
congregate to reject and refute this physical reality with a merry rebellion,
filling their cold darkness with warmth and light, hoping that in some magical
way it makes the sun come back.
 
        Would we like to distribute this music?
 
        Releasing it in an artpack would be unthinkable due to the filesize-
bloating effects of large quantities of sample-based computer music on 1994-era
modem transmission speeds.  And yet clearly not releasing it simply wasn't an
option.  And so we went for a Third Way, the poorly-understood option of the
Music Disk.
 
        Just how did a music disk differ from an artpack, anyhow?  In short,
the latter was expected to be packed with visual computer creativity, while the
former would of course be touting audio digital creations instead.  Outfits
that really had their act together would present their music disks alongside
executable music player software in which to experience the tunes, skinned with
visual art of their own creation and offering commentary and visualization
options informed by the longstanding demoscene traditions of loaders, intros
and cracktros.
 
        Our outfit could not really be described as having its act together.
Though its members would eventually achieve all kinds of greatness, at that
point by and large we were flying by the seat of our pants, faking it until we
made it and making it up as we went along.  So the Mistigris music disk was an
archive consisting of a pile of .MODs thrown together, along with a recycled
FILE_ID.DIZ and a painfully uninformative infofile -- this 15-year-old's fourth
crack at writing one up, not quite there yet.
 
        We shopped the highly seasonal collection of music around to the best
of our ability, by which I mean: we spent several hours uploading the archive
to a few BBSes, in the hopes that it might find its way to other area codes
courtesy of some independently wealthy long distance caller.  Who knows, if we
could get it on something called an FTP site, it might really find an
international audience on the InterNet.
 
        But the early '90s were lean, mean times and while the art was given
freely, storage and bandwidth came at a premium.  The Mistigris crew
disadvantageously straddled two worlds uneasily, too close to the pirate
wareZ-associated ANSI art scene for our music disk to be hosted by upright,
decent and legitimate demoscene music resources, yet too modem-breakingly large
(weighing in at a kingly 1.47 megs -- this alleged music "disk" wouldn't even
fit on a 1.44 inch floppy diskette!) for it to be hosted by ANSI art mirrors
-- at least, not without a heck of a lot more visual appeal than we wrapped it
in. So the archive bumped around local BBSes in the 604 area code for three or
four years, and then when the last of those went down circa 1998, suddenly it
became unobtainable... at least, until now.
 
        Computers can greatly streamline and facilitate creative activity, but
for longevity, the methods of the 19th century have got it lapped.  Paint your
image on a canvas, write your words in a notebook, commit the notes of your
song to sheet music, and it can live on for centuries -- write your opus magnum
on a computer and you've got maybe a 10-year window of opportunity before
backward compatibility with your genius goes out the window and all you have
left are the memories.  Maybe the greatest piece of computer art to emerge from
Vancouver in the '90s was William Gibson's Agrippa for the Apple Macintosh, but
how are you going to prove it?  But I digress.
 
        The point is: for reasons I can't adequately explain, to anyone else
and perhaps least of all to myself, I hung on to it -- all of it, or at least
as much of it as possible.  I desperately clutched at the high points, to hold
close to my heart, and the faux pas, to remind myself not to repeat my
mistakes.  (This music disk I like to believe is one of the former.)  On
hundreds of rotting floppies and miles of useless magnetic tape and through the
Russian doll backup approach of recursive hard drive upgrades, I kept it near.
I hung on to work that was released and work that never was, work that was
complete and work that was unfinished, work by people whose real names I never
knew and whose faces I'd never seen, because such was the unwritten compact of
our onetime interactions: you be creative, I will try to get it out there.  But
we did not anticipate that creative work, once released out there, would ever
cease to remain out there.  Here lies one whose name was writ on Geocities.
 
        Bafflingly, I hung on to prime work that had cost me only the time of
downloading it when its creators, who had devoted countless nonrefundable
hours of their lives to making the work, no longer had copies of it.  Did they
all suffer calamitous hard drive crashes?  I could not accept the historically
traitorous shrugged implication: that what we were up to back then was
unimportant, and besides nobody could prove otherwise.
 
        To make a long story short (OK, to keep a long story from getting even
longer), here I am, proving otherwise.  This is a formidable music disk -- the
original eight songs more-than-doubled, bolstered by a bonus nine more -- to
help keep your igloo or server room chill with vintage holiday sounds.  We
hope you enjoy these tunes -- some of you for the first time with some of
them, and others for the first time in 15 years -- and remember:

        please don't party like it's 1999... 
                that's nowhere near far enough back.

             - Cthulu, Mistigris founder, Nov 20 2014.
 
SO ENOUGH ABOUT THE HISTORY OF WITHERED TECHNOLOGY, WHAT ABOUT THESE SONGS?
 
HB-BELLS.MOD  1.44 mins Carol of the Bells  Hero Bob / Poison
FRQ-BLKN.S3M  3.04 mins Black Noise         Freaq / Independent

        Both appearing in the original, 1994, run of this music disk, Freaq is
nothing less than the musician that Hero Bob would mature into.  The first
file is a 4-channel rock arrangement of the traditional Christmas carol,
dating back to an earlier 1991 release, while the second is a season-agnostic,
but chawesome, original tune intended for a demo by Sonic Equinox that was not
ultimately to be, despite Leslie's sultry vocals.  As best as we could find, 
it was never re-issued anywhere else, so to ensure access to and posterity of
the plucky l'il file, we were obligated to include it here once again despite
its lack of obvious Christmas appeal.  (Blasting tracks on the Winter
Solstice, the longest night of the year, == "Black Noise"?  I'm stretching
here.)

ONX-GIAB.S3M  3.19 mins Grinch in a Blender Onyx / MiST
ONX-SOFT.S3M  2.22 mins Soft Crystal	    Onyx / MiST 
 
        Two further contributions by a supporting composer, the prolific (to
damn with faint praise) Onyx included GIAB and its techno remixings of the
holiday cartoon's musical themes in the original, 1994 release of this music
disk after composing it on Christmas Eve of that year.  The bonus track, Soft
Crystal, is intended to evoke a somber mood of snowfall, and is folded in here
due to thematic resonance despite remaining available in its original
Mistigris artpack release of December 1997 (that one composed Christmas Eve
Eve.)
 
YULEBEL1.MOD  9.27 mins The Bells of Yule 1 Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
YULEBEL2.MOD 10.23 mins The Bells of Yule 2 Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
YULEBEL3.MOD 10.00 mins The Bells of Yule 3 Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
YULEBEL4.MOD  9.58 mins The Bells of Yule 4 Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
YULEBEL5.MOD 12.47 mins The Bells of Yule 5 Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
 
        The centrepiece of the original music disk, lending it their name and
serving as its raison d'être, this epic suite remains as striking in December
2014 as it was 20 years prior.  Basically you won't find another song cycle
comparable to this in the wide and varied annals of computer music history.
Their original blurb remains very apt:

        "A fantastic voyage through the ranges and depths of sound and emotion,
these five tracks deserve to give the disk its name.  Each one is a masterpiece
in its own.  Listen and enjoy!"

        As a bonus, the original composer Melody has digitally remastered all
of the original Bells of Yule files with digital production techniques
unavailable to the Atari ST hobbyist in 1994, included here as mp3s attributed
to her current Empress Play imprint still today pumping out tunes on the
regular at https://soundcloud.com/empressplay
 
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
 
CT-W.S3M      2.05 mins Winter Eyes         Cthulu / MiST
 
        Originally released December of 1997 alongside Soft Crystal and The
Xmas Rave (see below), this peculiar serving of classical music was composed
the night of Cthulu's first great shearing, to settle a disturbance in this 
sensitive character in response to a colossal dispute between himself and his
landlo-- parents.  (The second great shearing was in 2010, in front of an
entire northern village, and it seems to have stuck.)  A theme and variations
type exercise iterating through styles of blues progressions, Mike Oldfield
(ah, but I repeat myself) and J.S. Bach, its original release was hampered by
unintended dissonance in the ice bell samples; it has been nominally
remastered to switch out one variety of dissonance with another one, amidst a
burying blanket of cold Sputnik beepings.  Think of it, if you will, as a
rewrapped, regifted, unwanted holiday fruitcake.  Eventually it will be to
someone's taste!

XMASRAVE.MOD  3.19 mins The Xmas Rave       Admiral Skuttlebutt/Digitallusions
 
        Also first appearing in December 1997, this later piece is
thematically consistent with the Yulebells of three years prior -- and also
enjoys a complementary MP3 remastering at Melodia's expert hands, included in
the archive.  (And to prove that the composer is not a one-holiday specialist,
keep your eyes and ears open for remastered editions of the original and
remixed versions of their New Year's hit "1995: A Rave", a couple of weeks shy
of its own 20th anniversary.)

Bells of Yule 2014 Reprise              5.03 mins Melody / Empress Play
Christmas in Marioland                  7.29 mins Melody / Empress Play
Jingle All The Way (To The Dance Floor) 4.27 mins Melody / Empress Play
The Christmas Santa Was Murdered        5.42 mins Melody / Empress Play
The War On Christmas                    8.16 mins Melody / Empress Play

        Rounding out this disk, just prior to release we discovered that
Melody had been working on more Christmas music.  Quite a bit more.  Indeed a
full five more to meet and match the original five compositions in the first
release of the Bells of Yule.  And since the disk had always been conceived of
as a testament to the singular vision of her bold musical demiurge, it made a
lot more sense to include these new tunes rather than trying to stifle and sit
on fresh compositions for perhaps some companion music disk to be released in
Christmas 2015.  (If there's one lesson I can impart upon the reader gained
from my keeping the music disk's original files on life support in a cold and
uncaring world for 20 years, it's this: never release tomorrow what you could
release today.)

        Including one more (final?) return to drinking at the Bells of Yule
well, exploring some alternate takes on themes from the original suite, these
new offerings hold true to the earlier songs in offering approaches to both of
the winter moods: bleak despair and defiant hope.

        And I couldn't ask for a better note than that to close on!

                 .--._.--.--.__.--.--.__.--.--.__.--.--._.--.
               _(_      _Y_      _Y_      _Y_      _Y_      _)_
              [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]    [___]
              /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \    /:' \
             |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |  |::   |
             \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /  \::.  /
         jgs  \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./    \::./
               '='      '='      '='      '='      '='      '='

        CREDITS:
 
        Music by:
           Admiral Skuttlebutt of Digitallusions and Melody of Empress Play
           Hero Bob of Poison and Freaq
           Onyx of Mistigris
           Cthulu of Mistigris
                                                                     _
        Infofile by:                                               _[_]_
           Cthulu of Mistigris                                      (")
                                                                `--( : )--'
        ASCII art stolen from:                                    (  :  )
           jgs.  I didn't even ask permission, I just took. jgs ""`-...-'"" 
           Look!  There, I'm doing it again!  At least I    
           preserved the signatures and extended proper credit.
 
        FILE_ID.DIZ:
           recycled from our first artpack with permission courtesy of Eerie
           (who in 12/94 was affiliated "Relic/Mist/Union/Shiver".  Too much
           talent to be contained in just one group!)
 
        Greets go out to the old New Media Productions crews from around the
604: EuphoniX, The Immortal Syndicate, Trideja, Radiance, Sonic Equinox, and
Happy Fetus Records, who we were never quite able to get on board, as well as
the other, "lost", Radiance -- Fire's music division -- whose disappeared
music disk on the Mistigris World Tour we should be re-releasing soon as part
of our spree of archival liberation -- and ACiD's music division, pHluid.
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                "MiST... more bite for your... er... byte."
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 3 comments