25/04/2022

๐ŸŽป๐Ÿฅ 8-Bit Orchestra Pro: The Prague Sessions ๐ŸŽป๐Ÿฅ @C64audio #VideoGameMusic

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I contacted @C64audio on Twitter a week or so ago regarding a vinyl for coverage on the site (Project Sidologie – Revolutions, coming to you in a GF article very, very soon) and was struck by the amicable chat and passion for their upcoming recording sessions in Prague for a successfully Kickstarter-backed project (https://www.gamesfreezer.co.uk/2022/03/saturday-2nd-april-two-free-streaming.html) which I was previously unaware of…and now had to watch, with my eyes – whilst also listening with my ears.

Saturday rolled around and I caught the very start of the first session, as the Orchestra were taking their seats and tuning up. I’ve only ever seen an orchestra in a video game-related context before back when I covered the London Video Game Orchestra in 2020, just before lockdown (https://www.gamesfreezer.co.uk/2020/03/london-video-game-orchestra-classics.html), but being a musician myself, I was drawn to how these sessions would show the music coming together and taking shape as they were recorded during the live stream – with the musicians sight-reading and having multiple takes, as opposed to the more tightly rehearsed LVGO concert I attended. 

The entire experience was an interesting once, it was great to feel like I was almost ‘behind the scenes’ as the conductor waved the orchestra to silence after a minute or so of Rob Hubbard’s classic Thing on a Spring and advised the musicians of moments of slowness or perhaps areas in which more ‘oomph’ was needed. This continued throughout the sessions as other C64 classics were performed, all with absolutely on-point commentary from the likes of Matt Gray, i.e. people who really know their stuff.

The live stream viewer comments were an intrinsic part of the experience, for me. The passion and appreciation for the music were really shining through and it was refreshing that all comments were all about the topic at hand and were mainly sharing memories, tidbits of trivia and background information about the tracks being performed; constructive criticism or just flat-out expressions of joy at what was unfolding.

As a person who is more familiar with 16-bit systems, I wasn’t as initially emotionally involved with the pieces of music being played, but the celebratory tone of the comments was infectious and it dawned on me that the people watching along with me had been fans of these SID-based tracks for decades and this could well be the first time they’ve heard them performed in such a way, it must have been overwhelming for some, which is a great takeaway from the show. The sense of camaraderie in the comments was interestingly juxtaposed against the actual style of recording and musicianship, which was - naturally - staunchly professional, due to the nature of the setup.

I enjoyed the show, admittedly the format of replaying sections until they were correct meant that it’s not something I’d return to regularly, but getting such a raw behind the scenes vibe was quite eye-opening when compared to other musical experiences that I’ve had – and it was a cool thought that I was hearing the finished, recorded versions coming together before my very ears.

Finally, a huge shout-out to @C64audio, we’ve been in contact a lot over the past couple of weeks and thanks to them, there are a lot of exciting projects that I’ll be covering on GF, shortly! For now – check out the sessions via the links below:


Sat 2nd April (Session 1 15:00-17:00 CEST) - https://youtu.be/_9Ay1jc7voA 
Sat 2nd April (Session 2 18:00-22:00 CEST) - Public session - https://youtu.be/5lwKFgaxI8s

Here’s to the music.

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