Exactly 30 years ago on this day, me and my friends in the C64 demo group XAKK went to a so called copyparty in Furulund, Sweden. Here we met with other people that was part of the early Commodore 64 and Amiga scene in Sweden. Three demos was released on this party. One of it was the first if a long series of more advanced demos for Commodore 64 from my team in XAKK. This demo was called Another Perfect Demo. My friend Jolly Cracker did the assembler coding and I made music and graphics.
You can read more about it in my story about XAKK that I wrote in the 90s when I still remembered some details about my years hacking the Commodore 64. It’s hard to believe 30 years have passed. My generation of computer geeks are nearing our 50s and some have already passed.
RIP Mr Bacher/CombatManiac who went to the next level a couple of weeks ago.
Back in the mid to late 80’s I was quite active in the Commodore 64 demo scene, as Knatter of XAKK. That ended in 1990 when I got an Amiga and ventured into a period of game development. I still like to keep track on what goes on with the old C64. There is a quite active demo scene, mostly consisting of men in their 40s and early 50s, hellbent on pushing the 8 bit boundaries even further. Once in a while something really impressive is released, like this fresh new demo from Bonzai, called the Phoenix Code. Recorded on a real C64. Everything is great with it. The overall design and graphics, the coding and of course the music, oh the music.
Something called the Unepic Stoned High SID Collection has been recording over 50000 tunes made on the Commodore 64. Since I was very much a part of that scene from the mid 80s to early 90s, naturally all my tunes are included. I made a playlist with all of them for your chiptune enjoyment. I put what I consider to be my best tunes from back then at the top of the list.
In my little series featuring Scandinavian hacker parties I visited in the late 80s, we have finally come to the grand finale: Furulund, Skåne, Sweden 25 – 27 of August 1989. This was, to my knowledge the third and last meeting held in Furulund. I belive me and my friends in XAKK visitied all of them.
Unfortunately this is the only one where I actually took some pictures. At the time XAKK was about to leave the Commodore 64 scene. Me and Vivace was working on a game that was never finished. We had only one more C64 demo left to do, Bound to be best II which was released in May 1990.
Swedish friend of all things C64 and retro, Jimmy Wilhelmsson wrote an article about an article about this “Hackathon”. It’s in Swedish and you can read it here.
Lots of people hacking at the hacker conferance.
Visitors at the Furulund Hacker conference.
Vivace, Cleo and Jolly Cracker/JC. All from XAKK.
People looking at stuff, with Kim Isaksen.
Kim Isaksen looking at stuff. Is that Mahoney leaning over him?
That’s a younger version of me. Knatter of XAKK
Vivace (XAKK) and other visitors watching a pirated movie on VHS.
Mr Bacher (XAKK) pointing at stuff.
Some guys from Starion? Kim Isaksen in the back.
Even more visitors. Do you recognize anyone?
Vivace (XAKK) testing the quality of the structure.
Lets take a trip down memory lane to the year of our lord 1989. The Commodore 64 and Amiga demo/cracker scene had became quite big among us geeks of northern Europe. My team XAKK had released demos for the C64 for more than two years by now. Truth be told, we were beginning to feel a bit like “was this all there was too it?”. Maybe we were just getting a bit too old for it all.
The Ikari & Zargor meeting in Slagelse, Denmark on the 23-25th March 1989 was kind of the first nail in the coffin for us. We were supposed to finish and release the demo Bound to be best but had to shelf our plans because of constant power cuts. Since we were quite a competitive little bunch and really wasn’t there to play around (Remember the oldest of us were 20 at the time), we decided to leave the party and finish the demo at Vivaces place in Sweden. Bound to be best was to become our second last demo ever on the Commodore 64.
The dark innards of the Slagelse meeting.
Sceners at the meeting. Comment below if you recognize anyone.
More dark innards of the Slagelse meeting.
Mr Cross, Jolly Cracker/JC and Vivace. All from XAKK.
Jolly Cracker/JC (XAKK) with his trusty old Commodore 64.
Knatter (XAKK) didn’t approve of this meeting.. ;)
Vivace, Jolly Cracker/JC and Mr Cross getting pretty tired of the constant power cuts.
Cleo, Vivace and Mr Cross chilling and coding at Vivaces place.
Mr Cross (XAKK) playing with his home built sampler, at Vivace’s place.
I have scanned some ‘evidence’ from my days in the late 80s Commodore 64 scene. First up are some pics I took at the infamous meeting in Tommerup, Denmark 8th to 10th July 1988. This party was held by the groups Jewels (Ikari), Danish Gold, Dominators and Upfront.
I went there together with some of the other guys from XAKK – Vivace, Jolly Cracker/JC and Mr Cross. Somehow the arrangers had miscalculated the total space needed for a couple of hundred or so hackers. Since there was nowhere to place our computers we decided to call it quits and go home early the next morning.
Visitors at the party. Do you know who these guys are? Comment below.
As some may or may not know I was pretty deeply involved in the so called Commodore 64 scene from around 1986 to 1990. I was the co-founder and musician/graphics guy of a Swedish demo and cracking group called XAKK. Rob Hubbard was one of my major inspirations for my music back then. Here is my personal top ten list of the best pieces of C64 music created by the one true SID-god, Rob Hubbard.
Edit: Actually there are 11 entries on the list since I originally forgot to include one of the best Hubbard tunes – Zoids.
11. Thing on a spring
This was one of the first games I played on the Commy. Even though the tune by Hubbard isn’t as good as the other ones in this list, it still holds a lot of sentimental value to me.
10. One man and his droid
This is another amazing high energy piece by Hubbard that makes you want to dance. It builds and builds with different variations on the same theme. There are some really crazy arpeggios in there.
9. International Karate
The game was great and I played it a lot back when it was released. The slow title tune by Hubbard borrows quite a lot from Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Forbidden Colours” from the movie “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”.
Another one of the classics. The melody is almost melancholic. It has a really cool break with hypnotic noisy beats and a haunting melody. I played the game a bit when it was released. It was pretty decent for a budget game.
Another game that I never really played. The tune by Hubbard is a slow piece with hints of sadness and almost despair in some parts. Note how the melody always goes down, down. Masterly programmed.
6. The last V8
A simple and catchy melody. I like the way the background sounds melt together with the chords. It’s a tune that makes me happy. The game was easily forgotten but the music still holds to this day.
The game itself was a pretty standard vertical shooter but the music.. Atmospheric and epic. One of most toned down tunes from Hubbard. Still gives me the chills listening to it now, almost 30 years later.
4. Sanxion (Loader)
I remember I was totally blown away when I heard this piece of music for the first time. The intro was so unusual – building up for something, and then BAM, a complex bassline and an almost oriental sounding lead. A very avant garde game tune at the time.
This track is actually based on “Ancestors” from the Synergy album Audion. I remember I bought the LP back in 86 or 87 and instantly recognized it. So Hubbard borrowed quite o lot at the time.. Still this is one of his best, powerful but with lots of feels, especially around the 2.00 mark. That melody gets me every time.
One of the best demonstrations of the, for the time, complex sounds that Rob Hubbard could squeeze out of the SID-chip. There are so many things happening in this track. I like how the melody and the arpeggio chords always match perfectly together, and how he throws in all these effect sounds here and there and still manages to keep everything working as a whole.
Delta is still considered by many to be one of the top five games ever released on the Commodore 64. Developed by Finish programmer Stavros Fasoulas, it had this killer title tune by Rob Hubbard. After so many years, this one still gets me all misty eyed. Such a simple but effective melody. Still the number one C64 tune for me.
So that was my top 10 list of the best Rob Hubbard tunes ever created. If you are interested in my music on the C64 you can check it out here and here.
Last year the demo No Sleep 2 (1987) by my old C64 group XAKK was chosen to be part of the exhibition Typemotion at ZKM at the Center for art and media in Karlsruhe Germany.
If you missed the exhibition you can catch it again and again since it’s a travelling exhibition. Next up will be in Vilnius, Lithuania and the National gallery of art, the branch of the Lithuanian art museum, between Oct 10 and Nov 9, 2014.