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  Table Of Contents
           Message From the Editor
           Monthly Software Review -- MP3Spy v1.0
           Screen Lit Vertigo -- "GoatAge" by Noice
           Interview With Andrew Sega ("Necros")

  Message From the Editor
     LOTS OF NEWS THIS MONTH.  There's been a lot of little odd and end
  things that I need to get tied they get included in this long
  message from the editor.  =)

     First of all, many of you wrote in that our web address was
  incorrect.  There were 4 messages in all, and I thank you for paying
  attention.  I wish I could say that I was just testing you, but this was
  a slip-up on my part, and I appologize.

     Next line of business, dead e-mail addresses.  I had a lot of them on
  the mailing list this past month.  Jim and I managed to clean it up a
  bit though, and we deleted several addresses that responded with fatal
  errors.  If you're wondering, that's why our subscriber count is down
  from last month -- not that we've lost any, just because some of those
  counted last month didn't exist.  Meanwhile, if you're going to loose
  your e-mail address, please unsubscribe.  If you've already lost it, the
  least you could do is let me know.  Thanks.

  Wow...this could turn out to be a long message from the editor.  =)

     Next in line is my new e-mail address.  If you aren't the type who
  reads the closing very much, please realize that I have a new e-mail
  address. My school account still exists, and will continue to do so
  until I officially graduate next year.  However, it automatically
  forwards all my mail to the new address anyhow.  On top of that, I'll
  have a better file-size cap on my new address.  The new address is

     Last thing before I introduce the articles for the month, I'm looking
  to get a hold of Ranger Rick.  If anyone has _ANY_ information on where
  I can reach him (or if Ranger is out there somewhere), please contact
  me. His e-mail address as listed on the closing is inaccurate, as it
  will return an unknown user.  The closing will change when we contact

     Now, the articles for this month (finally).  I have good news and bad
  news.  First the bad news:  I've been very busy the last few weeks
  searching for jobs, so I wasn't able to do a song review this month.  I
  appologize, but life should get simpler soon, and I may have a partner
  as well.  So my column is out.  However, Glen Warner (who wrote us some
  feedback a few months ago) sent us his interview with Necros.  He did a
  phenominal job, and we thank him profusely for it.  It's in our feature
  articles section this month.  Also among our features is a
  "NAIDorabilia" sale maintained by Andy Voss.  Among our regular columns,
  we have a review of MP3spy and a review of Noise's "GoatAge."  Dilvish
  is moveing again (poor guy, hope its his last for a while), so Zen of
  Tracking will return at a later date.  We thank you for your patience.


  Montly Software Review
    MP3Spy v1.0
  By:  Louis Gorenfeld
     Nearly everybody on the Internet has heard of the MP3 format, and
  most definetly all computer music freaks have.  However, fewer people
  realize that it can be streamed over connections as slow as 28.8 modems
  and even fewer know about MP3Spy.

     MP3spy is a program that basically catagorizes and lists Shoutcast
  streaming mp3 servers.  The program, after you click on the catagory of
  music you would like to listen to, presents you with information about
  each mp3 server listed including ping time (speed), number of listeners,
  bitrate (quality, red means your connection can't handle it) and the
  average time that the server is up.  The beta versions were more presice
  in the information and gave exact ping times and playback rates, though
  I assume this was too confusing for the majority of Internet users.
  There is also a description of each server.

     Each station also comes with an IRC-style chat room that you
  automatically join when clicking on the server.  I don't know if this is
  really needed since people do not usually say anything.  After you start
  listening, you are also presented with serveral options including buying
  the cd which is currently playing or going to the station's web page.

     The sound quality is very good for the rate (which varies from 8 or
  so all the way to 128kbps), and I personally prefer it to RealAudio as
  it seems to be much clearer even at very low rates, and is also faster
  loading.  Also, you can run your own Shoutcast MP3 server as long as you
  have a fast enough connection and computer (complete instructions on
  mp3spy site).

  System Requirements:
     * Pentium processor or fast 486, ~16MB RAM
     * Windows 95
     * WinAmp preferred ( )

  What you get:
     * Hours of free music provided you can find a station you like
     * Slick and quick interface
     * Annoying advertisements (registered users can toggle them)
     * Neat MP3spy WinAmp skin
     * Rating:  3+/4 ( along with external players this puts other
                       streaming audio programs to shame )

  Where to get it:

                --Louis Gorenfeld

  Screen Lit Vertigo
    "GoatAge" by Noice (party version)
  By:  Seven
  Found at
  1st place at Remedy'99

  System requirements:
     PII 233 or better, 5.5 MB HD, 64 MB RAM but 128 recommended, because
  otherwise swapping will cause slowdowns.  Windows9x, there are two
  exe-files: one for DirectX (Fullscreen) and one windowed version (using
  GDI, don't know what that means).

  Test Machine:
     PII 350 64MB SB16, Win98

  The demo:
     This is definitely one of the best demos I've seen recently, despite
  the fact that it is a (slow) partyversion, and win-only. It has a
  strange kind of feeling, as there are impressive and well-done effects,
  but often with funny details or crazy "poems", like:

                I walk my path
                to the virtual goatland
                facing my destiny
                at the edge of destruction
                reaching out for my life

     On the 3D-side, there is a scary ride in some metro-tunnels, a
  strange phong-shaded globe-like thingy with three mirrors,
  particle-trails and lots of flares (visual overkill, but I like it a
  lot), and lots of smaller objects, like a recursive cube, usually with a
  nice background and/or an additional 2D-effect.

     The radial blur is a bit over-used sometimes, for example during the
  credits.  Maybe that's why they show them again at the end, in a (very
  slow) upscroll.  There are some nice transitions between parts, like the
  strange 2D-plasma that wraps around an object, revealing the next part.
  There is one funny hand-drawn picture, of an angry goat, the others are
  photoshopped backgrounds of an astronaut in space, a human skull with
  green brains and Leonardo Da Vinci's human body (you know, with the arms
  & legs spread and a circle around it).

       There's no real theme in it, but somehow, they seem to fit the
  demo.  The big white font at the beginning and the end is a bit ugly due
  to anti-aliasing (no, sometimes it's just not necessary).

  The music:
     There are two tunes, the main theme and the outtro. The main theme
  starts slowly with a soft melody and slow drums, then it gets more
  rhythmical, a bit theatrical at the title sequence. Then we hear a voice
  sample (something about nuclear weapons, while the goat-picture is shown
  :)), and after that it burst into a typical demo-soundtrack: lots of
  fast percussion together with a catchy tune, with an occasional break or
  a slower part, for example in the metro-tunnels. The endtune is really
  well done, a nostalgic melody alternated by military-style drum rolls,
  with the typical "It's all over, folks"-feeling.

     The main parts of the demo are synchronized to the music, so due to
  the swapping-slowdowns, some parts might end too fast (some messages are
  shown only half etc).

     Well, the first time I watched it, I was really curious what would
  follow next, all through the demo. No "oh no, not again a <totally
  overused effect>!" feeling, it really grabs your attention (although in
  my case, my attention was easy to get as I should have been studying
  "object-oriented languages and software development II"). It's varied,
  never boring, the music is great and there is some humor in it, albeit
  rather strange humor :). The most bad points are on the technical side,
  the swapping-slowdowns are really irritating, and sometimes a few meshes
  disappear (DirectX error?). I hope they'll fix that in the final
  version. Also, there is no greeting-part, of course this is not an
  "error", but when I first noticed it, it felt so strange that I watched
  it again just to check if I overlooked it.  So maybe it's better to wait
  for the final, but if you're curious: go ahead, you'll enjoy it anyway.

  Secret part:
     To see the "secret part" mentioned in the info-file, add the word
  "goatpower" on the first line of the README.TXT.   It wasn't really hard
  to find, as the .exe is not zipped, and you can find "goatpower" next to
  "readme.txt" in it.


  By:  Andy Voss
     I would like to proudly announce that my NAID CD-ROM project is
  complete. It is officially titled "NAIDorabilia". With the help of many
  people over a six-month period, I have collected the following material
  for the CD:

     ALL the '96 compo entries
     95% of the '95 compo entries (missing a few gfx, 3 songs, and 1
     1.5 hours of audio footage from '96
     1.5 hours of video footage from '95 and '96
     400+ photos from '95 and '96
     invtros, reports, results, and related text files
     bonus North American demoscene memorabilia
     tons of hidden files and other surprises

  The price of the CD, including shipping and handling, is:

                $12.00 (US and Canada)
                $13.00 (international)

  Both prices are in US funds.

     This is a very limited production. As of 6/18/99 only 74 CDs remain.
  To reserve your copy, fill out the order form, available at

                --Andy Voss (Phoenix / DC5 / Hornet alum)

  Interview With Andrew Sega ("Necros")
  By:  G.D. Warner ("Mage")
     This interview was conducted via e-mail over the period from
  September 1998 to November 1998.

     Andrew Sega, known throughout the world of computer music as
  "Necros," has been an active force on the scene for about 6 years now,
  though only recently being noticed world wide. If you haven't heard of
  him, you are missing some really good music -- and you should take steps
  to remedy that situation quickly! For those of you who have heard of
  him, this interview provides some insight into the workings of a very
  talented musician.

  Mage: We'll start off with a few easy questions: real name, handle(s),
     groups (old and new) occupation ....

  Necros: My name is Andrew Sega, in the scene known as Necros (currently
     in the group Five Musicians... and at times: Kosmic, Psychic Monks,
     DC5, many others). Currently I work at a computer game company called
     Digital Anvil, in Austin, Texas.

  Mage: What do you do for Digital Anvil?

  Necros: Believe it or not, I'm a 3D graphics programmer. :) I've
     always been interested in the coding side of things, algorithms and
     such. I've actually been programming almost as long as I've been
     composing. It's a nice break from music (which can be quite stifling).
     Currently I'm working on scene optimization, rendering algorithms,
     object physics, etc. Music is nothing but ratios and harmonic math,
     anyways *grin*.

  Mage: Will they let you do any music for their games? Do they even know
     of your extracurricular (musical) activities?

  Necros: They do know of my music, in fact Martin Galway (of old-school
     C64 fame) is our audio director. However, it seems that most of our
     producers are into either orchestral or 80's pop-rock styles, which can
     be suitably composed by many people other than myself.

  Mage: Where did your nickname come from?

  Necros: I honestly have no idea. I picked it when I was seventeen. Later
     I found out there was a punk band in NYC called the 'Necros'. The
     concept of handles (nicknames) came from the old hacker scene...
     everyone wants to have alter egos....

  Mage: How did you get started writing mods?

  Necros: Pretty much the same way everyone else did - finding a demo or
     tune by accident, and being amazed at the quality. For me that moment
     was in early 1993, when a friend was watching Future Crew's "Unreal"
     demo, and marveling at the musical quality (9 channels on a
     SoundBlaster!). After a bit of digging, I discovered the 'demo scene'
     as it were, and the underground movement which was well underway. I
     managed to grab a copy of the original FastTracker 1.0, and
     immediately started spending many late nights hacking away at the
     thing. It was amazing, to me, to see that such a powerful tool was
     available to the 'scene'. From there I started working backwards a
     bit, discovering the older Amiga scene, and realizing how the
     evolution of the MOD had come about.

  Mage: Who were you listening to during this period? What interested you
     in that particular song/composer?

  Necros: I liked the early Purple Motion stuff. I learned a lot from
     analyzing tunes like "Starshine" and the 2nd Reality stuff, both for
     technique and for tonal qualities. There was a lot of decent Amiga
     stuff to listen to as well, if you could get past the quirkiness (or
     uniqueness, it could be argued) of 4 channels. Back then there wasn't
     very much PC composition at all, in fact it was rare to even see
     anything more than bad 8 channel .MOD's until FC
     ['Future Crew' --gdw] released ScreamTracker 3 in 1994.

  Mage: How long have you been composing?

  Necros: It will be almost six years now.

  Mage: How many songs have you tracked?

  Necros: Finished songs? Probably around four hundred or so.

  Mage: What equipment do you use?

  Necros: You really don't need any equipment to track. I still sometimes
     work off of my old 486 DX4/100, with a Gravis Ultrasound (hardware
     channel mixing). I have a fairly large sample collection from various
     synths and sample CD's. I also like to take little snippets from
     commercial (i.e. real music) CD's when I hear something special.

  Mage: No synths/keyboards?

  Necros: Well actually I do have a Roland XP-50 which I make strange
     patches with, in the past I've taken sounds from various synths that
     I've borrowed: Korg X3, Roland SH-101, even a Juno 106 once.

  Mage: Do you have any formal musical training? What instrument(s)?

  Necros: I've always been a keyboard player. When I was 14 or so, I was
     subbing as a church organist on weekends (seriously!). Probably been
     playing keyboards in one form or the other for at least 10 years now.
     I've also picked up a fair bit of guitar and bass, and some wind
     instruments. Once you have a basic grasp of the theories underlying
     music, you can pretty much pick up any instrument you want.

  Mage: Do you play any ragtime or stride piano? I'm asking because most
     keyboard players seem to neglect their left hands, according to an
     Australian music salesman I spoke with a few years ago
     (he was watching me play Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" with some envy
     at the time...).

  Necros: I agree. I do play a bit of ragtime, some Joplin and such.
     Although in my opinion Gershwin is the master of 'progressive
     ragtime', some of his left hand passages are frustratingly intricate.
     Not only do most musicians neglect their left hands on a piano, they
     neglect the bottom end of their mixes when tracking. I've always
     tried to put interesting bass lines and drums to contrast a bit with
     the melodies, and add a bit of colour.

  Mage: (*heh*!) Two words: 'Art Tatum'! :o) Love those walking tenths.
     What is your reach, by the way?

  Necros: Heh. My left hand tends to rebel once I go past octaves.
     However, you can always sequence what you can't play. :)

  Mage: How important do you feel is a knowledge of music theory to a
     tracker? Has it helped you compose?

  Necros: I think it's fairly important to do anything meaningful. If you
     don't know _anything_ about music theory, you'll be handicapped a
     bit. I don't have very good technical knowledge (i.e. high-end
     jazz/modal theory) but I do know the basics and every little bit
     helps. I wouldn't make the mistake of saying music theory is the sole
     key to successful tracking, however. A good rhythmic and sonic sense
     is also extremely important.

  Mage: All musicians seem to write their tunes differently; how did
     "Realization" come together?

  Necros: Well, the intro progression (D, D/C G9/B G2/Bb) is very
     Beatles-esque and probably came from such. Once you have a good chord
     motif, it's pretty easy to hear in your head what sort of a groove
     you want to put behind it. The tracker forces you to be a bit austere
     in your orchestration...2 channels for drums (bass drum/snare,
     hihat, lots of volume twiddling and offset), 1 for the guitar + 2
     echo tracks, chord track for warmth (the samples are backward Enya
     pads if I remember correctly), one for the bass, and 2 more for clean
     guitar arpeggios. During the B3 solo near the end I had to double the
     speed of the piece to fit the 16th notes in the patterns - tracker
     limitations strike again.

  Mage: Does this technique hold true for all of your tunes? That is, do
     you find a good chord progression and go from there?

  Necros: Yes, almost to a fault. I've been fascinated with arcane chord
     progressions since I was young. The trick is to keep them
     interesting, while still in the realm of 'normality' (otherwise the
     listener has no context to appreciate the progressions in). It's
     tough to do really unique orchestrations in a tracker simply because
     there's not that much sample space to go around. You are much more
     dependent on your melodies and progressions to carry the songs for
     you. I'm not even going to mention the pain that is caused by having
     to make most songs without vocals....

  Mage: What is the weirdest chord progression you've run across?

  Necros: Well anyone can make a 'weird' progression by randomly picking
     triads. I love Gershwin-style chords (the second part of Rhapsody,
     perhaps). Also I'm a big fan of Sundays / Cocteau Twins - style
     layered chords (Cmaj7 - Bbmaj7/F -F9 - G9). When I first got into
     tracking I loved the chords from Purple Motion's "Starshine"
     (Am - G9 - Bb - C9... Cm7 - Bb - Db - Eb... simple but effective).

  Mage: Believe it or not, there are a few people reading that have never
     even  *seen* a tracker before, let alone tried writing a tune in one.
     Could you describe how you go about actually creating a tune, from
     start to finish (you know ... idea, sample selection, etc., etc.)?

  Necros: Using a tracker is like writing a tune on a Scrabble board.
     You're putting samples in discrete slots, and applying different
     effects (denoted by letters ... yes it's archaic). The first thing
     you do is get the basic idea. Then you attempt to find a basic sample
     set. I prefer to do the rhythmic stuff first ... basses, drums,
     loops, etc. After you have that, you go through the normal stages of
     composition, ripping stuff out, putting new samples in, rearranging
     sections. Once you get used to the tracker interface, it's not that
     much different from MIDI sequencing. The one really neat thing about
     trackers is that you get very low-level control over your samples --
     volume, panning, effects and such. It's very easy, for example, to
     create intricate slice-and-dice rhythms using bits of samples (Skinny
     Puppy-style). Conversely it's much harder to do long drawn out pads
     and sustained chords well, due to limited sample sizes and the
     inherent quantization of the tracker. It's a hard beast to master,
     but when you've got it, you can do things you could never do in DLS
     or MIDI specs, and end up with file sizes so ludicrously small (way
     under 1 MB) that you can realistically distribute tunes over the

  Mage: Now that you have a Real Job(tm), do you find it interferes with
     your tracking?

  Necros: Absolutely. But I don't mind much; I've spent so much of my life
     full-time tracking that I'm almost happy to relegate it to part-time

  Mage: 'Five Musicians'. Who else is in this group?

  Necros: Me, Basehead (Dan Grandpre, US), Mellow-D (Jaakko Manninen,
     Finland), WAVE (Jeroen Tel, Netherlands), and Hunz (Hans van Vliet,

  Mage: Do you work on tunes as a group, or just individually?

  Necros: Originally we had hoped to do all tunes as cooperative efforts
     between one or more of us. Unfortunately it's a logistical nightmare
     over the internet. Passing songs back and forth gets tedious quickly.
     There have been a few successful efforts so far, but not many.
     Nowadays we are mostly doing individual releases and hoping that as a
     group we have (or appear to have) some sort of unified vision.  :)

  Mage: You've alluded to difficulties with 5-way collaborations amongst
     the Five Musicians. How bad was it? Was the song ever completed? What
     was it?

  Necros: Well, a five-way collaboration (in the true sense) is almost
     impossible. I remember some attempts (on IRC) by people trying to get
     9, 10 people to all work on bits of a large song. The result usually
     was an incoherent stylistic mishmash. There have been a lot of 2-way
     collaborations, though, me and Basehead on "Riff", Basehead and
     Mellow-D in "Digital Ritual", etc.

  Mage: Impulse Tracker 3.0 apparently will include networking
     capabilities. Had you heard anything about this?

  Necros: Nope... how exactly would that work? Two people entering tracker
     data at the same time? Sounds a bit confusing (unless you threw in
     some sort of I-Phone or equivalent to facilitate realtime voice

  Mage: Alas, all the web page ( says, under
     the list  of new features, "Network multi-user tracking (Jeffrey
     Lim's idea)". I  would suspect some sort of TCP/IP interface... you
     know, like playing "Myth: The Fallen Lords" or "Quake" over the net,
     possibly with something like "Publish and Subscribe" thrown in. Since
     you are dealing with TCP/IP anyway, I don't see any reason one
     couldn't set up a conference call while they're tracking.

  Necros: Certainly it's an option. As with any collaboration, you have to
     find someone that's in your 'mode' of making music. When physical
     distance isn't a barrier, it may help people find collaborative
     companions anywhere on the planet.

  Mage: You've done a few collaborations with other musicians ("Dance of
     the Dead" with Chromatic Dragon, "Search for the Lost Riff", with
     Basehead, etc.). How does one write a tune in this fashion --
     especially when the participants are in two different countries?

  Necros: Usually you try to pass the tune back and forth in some fashion.
     Sometimes it's via e-mail, or sometimes it's even as simple as taking
     turns on the keyboard {"Riff" was done that way, at a party :)}.
     Unfortunately it doesn't usually work too well because the people are
     constantly trying to push the piece in different directions.  The
     success is totally dependent on the the mixture of the composers'
     styles... if the ingredients clash, so will the song....

  Mage: Where can one download the Five Musicians' tunes?


  Mage: FM has undergone a few changes over the years. Wasn't Big Jim a
     member at one time? Also, Zodiak and Vic have departed. What caused
     the personnel changes?

  Necros: Big Jim was one of our first members. Unfortunately he sort of
     faded out of the scene. Zodiak filled in at one point, he's a great
     guy. Vic was also in for a while (and is a very talented tracker),
     but we had a few interpersonal conflicts in the group. It's hard
     finding a good mix of people that won't sit and scream at each other.
     Usually musicians have egos and personality quirks which makes it
     difficult to form collaborative efforts (for long periods of time,

  Mage: What do you feel are your strengths as a tracker ... and your

  Necros: I like to tell myself that I have a good harmonic sense. I also
     think I'm fairly good at diverse orchestrations. I've been trying to
     improve my rhythm tracking skills lately (creating my own loops and
     such). Also I'm exploring more offbeat styles.

  Mage: So you feel your weakness is rhythm?

  Necros: Until recently, I was afraid to explore non 4/4 styles ...
     probably because of all that pop in me. Lately I've been trying to
     mix things up more, experiment with offset (Photek-style) breakbeats,
     even 3/4 electronica. However, I'm not a big fan of asynchronicity
     just for its own sake - a lot of people push rhythmic variation so
     far that the basic pulse of the music gets lost (and the listener is

  Mage: You wrote a short-lived newsletter on writing mods (SIGNALS, 1 -
     5). How did that come about?

  Necros: Arrogance, most likely (*grin*). I was amazed at the lack of
     information available about tracking, and decided to try to write a
     series of newsletters which would concentrate on intermediate-level
     tracking tips. It was pretty successful, but I didn't have much time
     to continue it during semesters. We tried a few years later to do the
     same thing, again, with a mag called Dissonance, but it suffered the
     same fate. There were also articles here and there in TraxWeekly,
     back when it was on a consistent "1 issue per week" schedule. All in
     the name of helping one's fellow man. :)

  Mage: Could you describe Dissonance? Is it still available somewhere?

  Necros: I'm sure it's out there somewhere. I don't think I even have a
     copy of it anymore. It was a DOS-based .exe, that was an interface to
     read articles with. We had quite a few articles, maybe twenty or
     thirty pages worth. I doubt it'd run under Win98 though :)

  Mage: By now, you have probably played with most of the trackers out
     there. Which ones have you used?

  Necros: I'm an Impulse Tracker junkie, command line-style interfaces
     give a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. It's just as good as the newer
     versions of FastTracker, and I find it slightly faster to work with.
     At this stage of the game it's basically a choice of which UI you
     prefer. There are some new trackers on the horizon, with more
     realtime DSP and distinctively non-tracker style (MIDI) song
     construction capabilities. I don't know at what point a tracker
     becomes functionally equivalent to some of the regular MIDI-based
     sample sequencing tools; but I suspect that day is rapidly
     approaching. Trackers were much more interesting when they were the
     only cheap 'underground' tools which allowed you to put together
     professional-sounding multitrack recordings on cheap vanilla
     soundcards. Unfortunately, as technology has improved, that which was
     'underground' now heads towards obsolecence.

  Mage: A lot of mod musicians are requesting a Windows-based tracker
     (according to Antoine Rosset, author of the Macintosh tracker,
     PlayerPRO). Wouldn't you be able to work just as fast (or faster) in
     a GUI? For instance, a repetitive bass line or drum sequence can be
     created once, and copied and pasted with a couple mouse clicks.

  Necros: Yes. I'm not saying that it's impossible to make a fast and
     easy-to-use GUI tracker, just that it hasn't been done yet :) At what
     point, though, do you end up writing a cheap version of Pro Tools?
     Once you start using huge 16bit samples, 32+ tracks, realtime DSP, et
     cetera, the 'tracker' is essentially turned into a high-end sequencer
     with primarily a keyboard (as opposed to MIDI) interface.

  Mage: Samples are the 'Heart and Soul' of tracked music. Your samples
     are of a very high quality (amplitude, etc.). Do you make your own?
     What do you use?

  Necros: I rip a bit, make a bit ... I think you have to do both to get a
     good sample set. I've made quite a few on my XP-50 by taking patches
     and twiddling synth parameters until the sound goes haywire, and then
     sampling the resultant waveforms. I haven't extensively used sample
     CD's too much, but I'm getting into that more and more. Since most
     people who track have limited income/resources {otherwise they would
     be using real samplers, not trackers:)}, you have to be creative in
     your sampling.

  Mage: Many mod musicians dislike it when other musicians use their
     samples without crediting the source (a.k.a. 'ripping'). What are
     your thoughts about this issue?

  Necros: Many samples are so ubiquitous these days that it's difficult to
     determine the original source. Also, it's very easy to disguise a
     sample by processing it a bit in SoundForge or something similar. I
     think that the public judges a song on the overall feel, not
     individual samples. If a sample contributes too heavily to the song,
     and the sample is recognized, the opinion of the piece goes down. So
     you sort of dig your own hole if you use too many 909's and distorted
     303's and old Amiga samples.

  Mage: Do you see the arrival of the ".MP3-wave" as a threat to tracking?

  Necros: With the increased transmission bandwidth available nowadays via
     the internet, and cheap fast modems, I think the tracked format is
     losing some of its advantages. An MP3 is only 4-5 times bigger than
     the typical XM or IT, and you get 'unlimited' sample usage. I also
     think that MP3 is an excellent medium for mass distribution of music,
     at least for the next year of two. The sonic artifacts are very
     minimal. Plus you don't have the ability to 'rip' the author's

  Mage: There has been some discussion about a given mod musicians' music
     being included in games, movies, etc. without the musicians
     permission... and, of course, no payment. Has anything like this
     ever happened with one of your tunes (that you know of)?

  Necros: I've been asked many times to allow my tunes to be used in
     various mediums: games, short films, college radio, etc. Usually I've
     been pretty obliging. It's unfortunately difficult to actually
     enforce/sue people if they did use songs without permission. I've
     never really had anyone 'steal' one of my songs and use it in any
     mass market medium, though. {well, at least I haven't heard of any
     yet :) }. Another way to look at it: if I was obsessed with making
     money off of my music, I wouldn't have released it for free on the
     internet for the last 5 years.

  Mage: College radio, eh? I've thought about sending a tape full of mods
     to a college radio station to gauge the audience reaction. Have any
     of these DJs given you any feedback?

  Necros: Nothing that I've heard anyways :) I know a bunch of people that
     have done 'mod-heavy' shows on their college radio stations. It's
     hard to find a mass audience for some of this stuff because it's
     definitely a unique sound. Only recently has the style and technology
     taken tracking to a level where it can be indistinguishable from
     normal CD tracks.

  Mage: You have an uncredited song in the newly released game "Unreal"
     ("Isotoxin", on the 'Outpost 3J' level). How did that come about?

  Necros: I've known Alex Brandon for a while (from the demo-scene), and
     he asked if he could use it in an Unreal level. For some reason, the
     proper credits didn't get put in the US version, but I've forgiven
     him. :o) That game is a nice example of modern "mod" technology ....

  Mage: Another objection I've heard is the inclusion of a musician's song
     on a mod compilation CD -- also with no permission. What are your
     feelings on this?

  Necros: Some of those mod compilation CD's have so many songs on them,
     it'd be impossible to track all of yours down. And usually the
     creators are fairly poor sceners in Europe who are trying to hype up
     their group/bbs/site; it would be highly unlikely that you could get
     damages from them. All of the compilations I've been involved with
     (the Hornet ones, ACE, Mods Anthology) have been very professional in
     asking for proper rights, and I respect that.

  Mage: I'm familiar with Mods Anthology (I have a copy and recommend it
     highly), but I am not familiar with the Hornet CDs or the ACE ones
     (what's ACE? :o) See what I mean?).

  Necros: Hornet released a bunch of CD's ... "Hornet Underground",
     "Hornet Mods", which are basically big dumps of their archive.
     Unfortunately the archive is being shut down, so they may not be
     available indefinitely.

  Necros (continuing): ACE is a French BBS which was WHQ for quite a lot
     of groups, they burned a bunch of archive dumps as well ... I can't
     find any contact info on them at the moment, though.

  Mage: What do you consider your personal 'Top Ten' tunes? ... and why?

  Necros: It's hard to quantify a 'top ten' list of songs for many
     reasons. I like many styles of music, and it's difficult to compare
     radically divergent types of music with each other. There are many
     amazing tracked tunes that have been written over the years. Some of
     my favorites would be:

     -- Hunz, "Volume" - This is still one of the best 'vocal-using' songs
     that I've heard. Fantastic singing (the rapping isn't so hot, though),
     great mixture of styles.

     -- Dune, "X14" - Perfect techno technique. Strange ethereal blips and
     pads, great loops, fits the demo perfectly.

     -- Skaven, "Ice Frontier" - This was the ultimate 'demo-style' tune
     back in '94. Excellent progression, great feel, epic sound.

     -- Zauron, "Lovelight' - This year's MC6 winner. A very catchy
     GLU/Underworld "electronica-rock" piece with great vocals.

  Mage: Same question -- but about your own compositions.

  Necros: It's hard to pick favorites, but I'll try:

     "Hypercontrol" - This was written for the Epidemic disk, many years
     ago. It's my take on the archetypical 'demo' song. The samples are
     a bit dated, but I think the basic ideas shine through pretty well.

     "Realization" - This was probably my best take on the tracker-rock
     genre. It's difficult to get that alt-rock feel when your notes are
     continually quantized and you can't get good tonal variations
     (simulating real acoustic instruments is a bitch). Some of my later
     songs in this style ("Revelation") have better technique and sound,
     but I think this one has the best basic songwriting behind it.

     "Orchard Street" - The best of the jazz-style tunes ... I really like
     how the changes worked out. This was also probably the last of that
     style I'll ever write, I'm much more into 'electronica' (yeah, I know
     it's cliche these days).

     "Martian Lovesong" - This is probably my favorite. It's unfortunate
     that it's still unfinished, but it was done in a hurry as the MC5
     deadline approached. I have a couple of attempts at a longer remix
     started - I hope to finish at least one of them.

     "River Boat" - My "System" disk was sort of a departure in that I
     didn't follow many of the song forms I chose to in the past. This song
     is a good example - much more moodyand atmospheric than some of my past
     stuff, without being too sleep-inducing. :)

  Mage: Often, musicians (trackers included) wish to remix one (or more)
     of their compositions. Aside from "Martian Lovesong", are there any
     of your tunes that you would like to go through and ... fix?

  Necros: A lot of songs have various strange oddities in them - usually
     this is the result of late-night dementia.  Many times, however,
     these little quirks contribute to the songs' charm, and you lose
     something intangible by getting rid of them. Sometimes if you polish
     too much, you rub off the shine.

  Mage: How about anyone else's tunes (both tracked and commercial)?

  Necros: Oh, all the time I'll hear songs on the radio that I want to
     remix. Usually it involves putting stranger and/or more fleshed out
     harmonies in them. Every musician, I guess, wants to alter the world
     to his or her taste in some fashion ... that's part of why I write

  Mage: Your music disk "System" includes a version of "Silent Night". How
     did you arrive at this particular arrangement?

  Necros: It's pretty much along the same lines -- I wanted to try putting
     a bit more harmony in the mix, maybe use some 9ths and some layered
     pads, see what I could come up with.

  Mage: Your musical style varies quite a bit. Which styles have you
     covered? ... and any plans to cover styles (reggae, etc.) you haven't

  Necros: I've pretty much covered all the styles that I like. ;)
     Alt-rock, folk, techno, ambient, jazz, synth-pop. I try to avoid
     categorizing music as much as I can, though. Everyone steals so much
     from everyone else these days, the lines between genres are very

  Mage: With reference to jazz tunes, I liked your piece "The Grey Note".
     Nice Branford Marsalis samples, good 'live' feel ... more of a
     'straight-ahead' jazz feel. How did this tune come about (source of
     inspiration/idea, etc.)?

  Necros: I was talking to Basehead on IRC one day about chord
     progressions and he mentioned a neat 4-chord intro sequence (the
     first four chords of the song)... The samples are taken from the end
     of Sting's "Englishman in New York" (chopped, sliced and diced). The
     resulting sax sequenced sounds absolutely nothing like the part that
     was played in the original riff that the samples were taken from (it
     was about 8 hours of work to get the reassembled solo to sound

  Mage: From "Englishman in New York"? The 8 hours of work paid off -- I
     had no idea the samples were from that particular tune (and I used to
     listen to that CD a *lot*). The only reason I knew it was Branford
     Marsalis is because of his characteristic style of playing, which you
     captured quite well.

  Necros: I wasn't really trying to 'emulate' his style per se, it was
     more figuring out what I could do with the samples. It's actually
     refreshing at times to work backwards in that way ... taking a fixed
     set of samples and trying to create something of quality out of them.

  Mage: Musician's styles ... I can name a few musicians I can identify
     just by their style of playing (Paul Desmond (alto sax), Dave McKenna
     and Oscar Peterson (piano), Herb Albert (trumpet), Ella Fitzgerald
     and Astrud Gilberto (singers), etc.). Are there any other musicians
     you sample (or plan to in the future) of this caliber?

  Necros: Stylistic evolution comes from listening to what other people
     have done  and making a Darwinistic modification. You can do this in
     tracked music,  sequenced music, acoustic music .... certainly in the
     digital age it's more  an issue of sampling. I'd like to see people
     try to sample the sound less  and try to sample the style a bit more.
     Some people see this sort of  'copying' as offensive ... I'm inclined
     to think the opposite - all music is  built on imitation and

  Mage: Sting said at one time or another that "jazz is where bored rock
     musicians go". Which style do you move towards when you are bored?

  Necros: Unfortunately Sting's jazz work isn't nearly as inventive as his
     rock songs (*grin*). For me it's loud, angry, distorted, asynchronous
     techno. I think we'll soon see a new breed of musicians who have both
     a modern chordal sense (jazz) and a high comfort level with
     synthesizers and new breeds of sounds (from the electronica/techno/dj

  Mage: In my opinion, Sting's "Dream of the Blue Turtles", "Nothing Like
     the Sun" and "Bring on the Night" were his best (notwithstanding his
     work with The Police, of course) ... after that, it went downhill.

  Necros: Agreed. His songwriting style was quite influential (such
     classics as "Synchronicity II", ""Fortress Around Your Heart", and
     even more obscure songs such as "Secret Journey").

  Mage: Why do you track?

  Necros: To keep myself sane. Perhaps to get the noises in my head into a
     tangible medium.

  Mage: What is your ultimate musical goal?

  Necros: One day I'd like to direct and score something interactive (this
     is why I'm in the computer games industry). Something with style, not
     one of the mundane shoot-em-ups that pervade the marketplace today.

  Mage: Is there anything you'd like to say before we close?

  Necros: A quick hello to all the people who've helped the tracking
     'scene' to thrive over the years. There's a lot of good music out
     there, all of it for free, that deserves to be more widely heard. Our
     website is currently at, and there is an FTP server
     as well that you can grab older releases from

  Mage: Thank you, Andy "Necros" Sega.

  Mods Anthology can be ordered here:

  Mirrors for the FM.ORG site:

                --Glen "Mage" Warner

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