Friday, 12 November 2010

Casimir's Blake 2010 Album Released!

The new Casimir's Blake album is released!

Casimir's Blake explores the fathoms of the deepest spacial sectors, places many wouldn't dare. His journey was initially laden with Global Communication-eqsue downbeat ambiences (on Kahvi Records 2009 LP release Casimir Corona and Mono211 Records 2010 LP release The Silence In Fragile Space). The pace picked up this February with the explosive 5-tracker Ejecta Nebula EP on Kahvi, revealing a far more energetic, techno-infused side to Casimir's story.

Casimir's new 2010 LP is packed with even greater diversity: eclectic exploration of space epic maximalism. Propelled by fiery, supernova synth leads and relentless percussion. An amalgam of progressive techno, melodic electronics, maximalism and psychedelic Moraz-esque solos.

Casimir's Blake is available at bandcamp FLAC and other lossless formats. Join the new space-race now!

All the tracks are previewable in full, as many times as you wish, from Bandcamp or SoundCloud.

Thanks for listening!

- Casimir's Blake.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Saturday, 14 August 2010

More evidence of "indie gaming" greatness

One impromptu castle. (Co-built with Alke, thanks mate!) Built using Minecraft. What a wonderfully creative thing this is.

Monday, 2 August 2010

A Grooving Trio

Just a small shout-out to Groove3, whom I have recently discovered. Having perused many of their sample videos, I have already come to the conclusion that they cover their subject matter (audio production) in great depth. The pacing seems about right for beginners and intermediates, and I'm willing to bet more advanced users will find much to enjoy too. I'm still waiting for a few more Ableton-centric packs, personally, but I'm very tempted by Designing Electronic Drums. (Which looks like it will cover various methods of drum creation, not only synthetic, because layering some good samples can also produce excellent results.)

In the hopes one or two people may happen upon this post looking for such material, I am rather choosy with such things: pacing is crucial, video and audio quality is paramount, but most of all, the tutor's attitude must be conducive to a learning atmosphere. Groove3 seem to have a good line in these already, but if you're looking for others, I'd also recommend Sirs Abletonians-Extraordinaires Tom Cosm and Nick Maxwell.

Finally, I took four years out of my life to dedicate to music and production courses. I would advocate this route today, because a good college or university will give you continuous goals to reach for and steadily improve your abilities. But it has to be said, if you have the time and willpower (and also if you would rather not pay course fees!), the amount of tuition material for audio production is nowadays growing fast, and is absolutely a suitable way to go. Take your time, experiment, try remixing tunes you like and competitions. Try making your own soundtracks to music videos or film trailers. Set short-term goals, and you will improve.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Thief: Still Superlative Gaming in 2010

After hours of plunder, toil, sneaking, stealing, barely-avoiding guards, spiders and undead haunts; after laying a ghost to rest, and destroying dark artifacts to purge the world of an evil; after treacherous climbs and a brief skirmish (arr!) with some cursed pirate spirits, I am faced with...

I'm unnerved, and excited, to find out what lies within this delightfully forbidding, and inevitably haunted abode. And this is why I continue to play Thief!

Still sorely missed, Looking Glass Studios, I salute you. (As well as Eternauta, the talented and inspired creator of fan-campaign When Still, from which the image above was taken.)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

July's Observations (part 3)

It's difficult to take any computer or video game seriously nowadays, looking across the shelves of console games (any of the three major consoles!), and it's a tragic mass of manufactured shooting or sports games.

This situation is more than a little depressing in its own right, but it is made even worse having played two of the best PC games that exist: System Shock and System Shock 2. I don't really have the vocabulary to elucidate far as to how these games excite me. But simply, their brand of first-person adventuring imparts a sense of seclusion, claustrophobia, of bettering one's-self in order to progress. The whole "hacker trapped on a space station" plot is mere icing on the cake, the fact that both games have semi-persistent multi-level worlds is what makes them utterly fascinating.

Both games start you off having awoken from cryogenic sleep, with warning bells chiming in your ears as you realise you're in a place where things have gone very wrong indeed. I shan't talk about the sequel too much for now, but the first game's angular level design and near-gaudy, bright sci-fi textures give the Citadel Station a much-missed "light" tone despite the direness of your situation. If the game was released today, it'd be all dark corridors and a dumbed-down interface. But no, bright blue panelling assaults your eyes, and tiny things lay around on the floor for you to pick up - okay so the pixellation does look a touch rough nowadays - such as "power pills", weapons and PDAs. For 1994, the CD version's audio logs were a thing of wonder. And this being Looking Glass, they were well acted and written, imparting a consistent sense of desperation in the crew members as they fight the menace that is blighting it. Of course, nowadays, Aliens Vs. Predator 2010 (and others) employ them to pad out gameplay with pointless observations and soap opera acting.

You feel vulnerable at first, weak attack strength, tiny laser pistols and crowbars being the only weapons to hand. Trips to the healing pods will be regular as you engage enraged, marauding robots, gulping down adrenaline pills searching for that elusive unlock switch, passkey, or access to the next level. The slow progression through the 9 levels, knowing that - as you ascend higher - enemies will become more deadly and the challenge will continue to raise, is a simple game mechanic which has been lost to the "joys" of open-world, multi-mission games.

You can download SS1 from here, and I would recommend using the mouse-look mod with it.

There are a few fan-sites, but interest in the games seems to be waning gradually, unlike Thief's continued worship. To be fair, Thief is also a stellar game - and possibly still the finest stealth adventuring you can experience, especially if you try some fan missions such as Rocksbourg or T2X - but System Shock is simply better. With the addition of the mouse-look mod making "WSAD+mouse" play possible, and higher screen resolutions, System Shock is brought forward to the Duke Nukem 3D era at least. But that's enough. I feel that its esoteric sprite graphics, and over-bright atmosphere makes it feel far, far more unsettling, exotic and enjoyable than any selected modern sci-fi or horror game. Malba Tahan's mod merely makes it more accessible and easier to get started, which is a positive thing.

There is one negative, however. Between playing SS1 all the way through for the first time at the start of this year, and Mass Effect 2, gaming has been almost entirely ruined for me. Music has become more important, but experiencing a game like SS1 was life-changing. Yes, life-changing. Please, go and play it, but I warn you - it may ruin gaming for you if you warm to its standards. Because Looking Glass and Irrational were on top form throughout the 90s, and in System Shock 1, 2 and both Thief games, it showed.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

July's Observations... (part 2)

Hmm, I've come to the conclusion that PC gaming - whilst certainly not dead - isn't in the healthiest creative state right now. Currently the only "commercial" game in production that looks even vaguely interesting is the weapon-less first-person horror adventure by Penumbra bods Frictional, entitled Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

I'm convinced that Frictional are Thief fans. Good start. Shame that Thief 4 will likely be a streamlined, console-friendly shadow (ho ho) of its illustrious predecessors, and that no-one is making System Shock 3... or any other dungeon crawlers for PC, for that matter.

Oh yeah, oops, back to music...