10/05/2022

๐Ÿ“€๐Ÿ’ฟ Project Sidologie: Revolutions Vinyl Review ๐Ÿ“€๐Ÿ’ฟ @C64Audio #Vinyl #VideoGameVinyl

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Product link - https://c64audio.com/collections/project-sidologie/products/project-sidologie-double-vinyl-lp

“An offshoot of the successful Kickstarter ‘Project Sidologie’ (https://c64audio.com/collections/project-sidologie), Project Sidologie Revolutions is a double-disc vinyl that takes C64 tracks composed by such luminaries as Rob Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Matt Gray and Chris Huelsbeck, and re-imagines them as Jean-Michel Jarre soundtracks, with selections representing different eras of Jarre’s catalogue.

Certainly one of the more niche records I’ve covered, Project Sidologie Revolutions is very clearly a passion project from all those involved and is highly recommended for those out there with a love for SID chip sounds, as the versions captured here are expansive and evocative takes on tracks that pulse with a timeless Commodore 64 heartbeat.

A double heavy rare vinyl LP with custom artwork and a beautiful gatefold sleeve with Giger-esque artwork by Trevor Storey. Thoughtfully, it includes a high-quality digital download pack so you can play the unique vinyl mixes on other equipment.

This four-side LP has four unique continuous mixes of tracks taken from Project Sidologie.

There is a different musical experience on each side of the vinyl.

Side 1 (OxyEqui)

1. Rambo Loading Theme(from Martnetic Fields)

2. Sanqinoxe (from Robdez-Vous)

3. Wizball High Score (from Martnetic Fields)

Side 2 (MagFields)

1. One Man and his Droid  (from Robdez-Vous)

2. Phantoms (from Robdez-Vous)

3. The Wilderness (from Waiting for SID)

Side 3 (ChinaLook)

1. Lightforce (from Robdez-Vous)

2. Game Over (from Martnetic Fields)

3. Crazy Comets/Bangkok Knights (from Robdez-Vous)

Side 4 (Revolution)

1. Hunter’s Moon (from Waiting for SID)

2. Mutants (from Sidologie 12-26)

3. Driller (from Waiting for SID)

4. Gem’X (from Sidologie 12-26)

As you can see from the above description – taken from the C64audio site – each side of the records represent a different era in Jean-Michel Jarre’s audio chronology, the first taking inspiration from the Oxygene / Equinoxe sound, whilst the second side leans towards Magnetic Fields; the third side is representative of Zoolook and the fourth and final side is based on the vibes of Rendez-Vous, Revolutions and Waiting for Cousteau. 

Whilst I enjoy some of Jean-Michel Jarre’s music, I’m by no means an expert and so won’t be able to dive too deeply into comparisons with his work etc. but I will take a track-by-track look at how the songs differentiate themselves whilst also fitting together thematically.

The cover – all artwork is courtesy of Trevor Storey - is very much inspired by the works of H. R Giger, with a close-up portrait of Rob Hubbard, circa mid- ‘80s entwined in metallic pipes and tendrils amidst towering tubes that reach up behind his visage. The colouring is all muted greens, blacks and greys – giving a washed-out ‘Matrix-esque’ filtered sensibility to the artwork. The rear main image reflects the front, but with the human elements removed. Text here contains details on the credits, composers and thanks to the Kickstarter backers that made the project possible, alongside a tracklisting. Marcel Donne is the performer for all of these tracks – although the original composers are also mentioned in the text here, the print run of the vinyl is also limited to 250 – and so this information is also listed in the bottom-left corner.

Opening up the gatefold shows a striking image of two feminine faces emerging from the pipes and an alien-woven structure from either side of an enormous corridor, lightning cracks out from their eyes and connects in the centre of the image as another crack of lightning forks around circling birds in the distance, giving the impression that this seemingly alien image is somewhere on Earth. That’s not all! Inside each sleeve is more artwork, on double-sided glossy paper. One of these images continues the pipe/circuitry motif and shows another face plugged into the circuitry, with the subtle touch of the C64 boot-up screen being reflected in the spectacles of the wearer, whilst two other faces - eyes ensconced in shadow - gaze outwards. The flipside of this shows a long-haired woman standing on a rock, alone in the centre of swirling dark waters, her dress billowing as she gazes up at impossibly tall alien towers rising from the ocean up to the starry night sky. The second sheet portrays lens flare creeping out from behind a Saturn-like planet seemingly comprised entirely of speakers, as satellite planets – connect by tentacle-like pipes – surround it. Finally, the reverse of the image shows what appears to be fiery trains hurtling along the circuitry, the bright orange of the flames making quite a statement when compared to the other, more muted colouring of the artwork.


Side 1 (OxyEqui)

1. Rambo Loading Theme – From the very first listen, I knew I was in safe hands with this album. This begins with sounds of swirling dust and tinkling chimes before more traditional synth sounds join in. They spend a few moments circling and teasing the upcoming melodies, bubbling and weaving as a theremin-like howl adds ambience. A low, buzzing series of bass notes thicken out the bottom end, hinting at the approach of THAT sound, you know the one- none more C64. The rhythm and melody now firmly in place, an aching, laser-esque line moves across the track as drums kick in. It’s an epic and grand first track, with the slow, methodical beat allowing the main line to explore and make its mark. I can very much imagine this as the final piece of music in a sci-fi movie with a bittersweet, pyrrhic victory at the end.

2. Sanquinoxe – a short introductory passage – these are all exclusive to the vinyl – that is piano-based, leads us into this track. More beat-driven and upbeat than the opening track, this has a quicker main melody that’s lighter on its feet. A more pop-oriented take on things, there’s a wonderful, throaty bass riff that leads into more rousing synth-work of long, held and more emotive notes. The song has a great jam section at the centre that leads into a passage of punchy notes before segueing back into the more emotive synth – that’s where the hairs on my arm stand up, those special moments on the album such as this, where the SID-chip is unmistakable and that sound and personality shines through. One of the longest tracks on the album, this one covers a lot of ground, the different moods of the melodies are always underpinned by that driving beat. I love the vocoder stylings used at the end, the robotic vocalisations fitting in with the story that the album artwork tells.

3. Wizball High Score – the energetic percussion style continues here, with classic reverb-laden synth reminding me of John Carpenter’s works as they ring out. A transition then to waves crashing as a syncopated hi-hat rhythm and double bass drum hits - and the C64 sonic equivalent of a turned-off snare – or possibly a rack-tom - act as the backbone to this more expressive and melancholic track. The main riff that comes in over the more ambient synths following the intro is gorgeous. A very pretty track that feels almost waltzy - as the music fades out, leaving the ever-decreasing sounds of those crashing waves, a peaceful end to the first side.

Side 2 (MagFields)

1. One Man and his Droid  - this begins with pacey rhythms, backed up by single, airy notes before a panicked hi-hat led beat comes in, as the bass underscores everything with some nifty trills. The mood is a sort of mellow gallop – no matter the approach of the current musical section, that bass combined with those hi-hats keep the energy level right up! The song is one of the longer tracks on the album and leads up to what - to my ears - feels like a synth take on a classic rock guitar solo at the end, I got a touch of a Road Rash 2 vibe from that section. Good. There’s also a false ending that comes swooping back in for a tasty, emotive outro.

2. Phantoms of the Asteroid– Back to more minimalist, expressive soundscapes for this one – at least…for the intro. Following this, there’s an early Beatles vibe to the drum pattern, a nod to 60’s pop - whilst the melodic approach of the keyboards feel vintage ‘80s, a heady mix!

3. The Wilderness– A pulsing, single bass note lurks beneath an echoing melody that is soon joined by crisp percussive sounds and a bell-like ride cymbal. Sounds of ambient space battles dance around before that SID-chip wizardry kicks in with an eastern vibe. A very pretty song with a strong personality and some jammy sensibilities to a lot of the runs. A shorter track that has a lot of moving parts and ends with more dusty ambience.

Side 3 (ChinaLook)

1. Lightforce – This track feels quite modern in comparison to the stylings used on the 2nd side of the first record. The production on this track has a tighter sheen to it and could be taken from a modern cyberpunk game with a retro-styled soundtrack. The big snare hits and slow cymbals feel big and tribal against the pounding toms. It sounds epic and quite frankly, fantastic. I felt like this could have been taken from a Terminator game, there’s a grandness to the song and a real confidence to the melodies and rhythms, definitely a favourite.

2. Game Over – A throaty, springing bass note leads into this track, which has one of the funkiest moments on the whole record. Big, woolly synth and ‘80s pop synthetic drums. GOOD. The slightly glitchy melodies and wailing trills ring out alongside cascading keyboard runs. This is a song that isn’t afraid to pull the rug from under you as it whips through its passages. This one has some of the most ballsy drums and moments on the album, eschewing ambience and subtlety for power and swagger, a nice way to mix things up. Also, a lovely outro that is again, pretty unexpected!

3. Crazy Comets - moving from Game Over to this one via the sounds of an alien modem clearing its throat, synth choral effects over the intro made me think that this was going to be a mellower, ambient piece but no – it also has one of my favourite things – slap bass and gutsy drums! You can very much imagine the keys on this one being played on a keytar, backed as they are by that twanging bass and bass-drum heavy rhythm. There’s also a hint of an Eastern vibe in some moments here, but that swagger returns and it once again feels like great summer pop, perfect for this weather! A song that, if it were tangible, would be wearing aviator shades, a brown suede jacket, Hi-Tec Silver Shadows on dancing feet - and have plenty of product in its hair. This side of the album really does feel like party central.

Side 4 (Revolution)

1. Hunter’s Moon – Wow! A big, doomy, industrial drum intro here with some thick ‘ole synth adding some serious depth. Definitely the biggest sounding and most ominous track yet. The second half alters the tone slightly to become a powerful marching beat, a track that definitely has a big impact.

2. Mutants – I was getting Doom (the videogame) vibes from this song, I loved how the main underlying riff feels groovy and cyclical, a rock solid 4/4 beat gives a sense of purpose as the fuzzy, trusty synth line cuts through. There’s even a touch of John Carpenter, especially in the eerier moments and in those big synth chords.

3. Driller – As the track breaks down, leading to a single, airy synth note – Driller kicks in. Distant booming percussion and long, held notes are accompanied by the dry thud of a bass played with a plectrum. Again, more Carpenter vibes here, the mix of synth with spookiness really works and ensconces you in the rich atmosphere, a very filmic score that would be right at home on a b-movie slasher. A film I’d certainly watch….and then buy the soundtrack on vinyl. The turns and shifts this track takes you on through the hefty length really makes it feel like the big, famous single of the record. If this was a live show, Driller would be the track that shifts the tickets. There’s a majesty and craft that makes this pop as one of the heavyweights on the collection and certainly makes it one of the standout tracks for me. Hints of horror, sci-fi, epics and a classic ‘up ‘n down’ scale at the end. Awesome.

4. Gem’X – A great choice as a final track, this melodically simple song really connects with the layers of synth to feel in turn celebratory, hopeful, and oddly mournful - as if we’ve arrived at this spot ‘together’ – it’s a fine way to bring the album to a close.

Project Sidologie Revolutions was one of those records that it’s just a pleasure to cover. I’ve listened through at least a dozen times and there’s always a new song or section that catches my ear upon each listen. The craftsmanship and quality mean that there are layers here to delve into and the reworkings of such strong tracks shine. There’s also a smooth, fully-rounded warmth to the mixing and mastering, meaning that it’s a joy to behold and dangerously easy to listen to over and over. Knowing how passionate the creators behind the record are is also a big bonus, you can feel the dedication etched into each groove.

I received this thinking that it would be an incredibly niche listen, but it feels much more accessible than my preconceptions had led me to believe. The synth work is rich and, whilst each side has its own character and personality, the level of variety that comes from that means that there’s always a treat around the next corner, but the uniformity of vision also gives it a strong, unifying theme.

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