Press Play On Tape: Run/Stop Restore
2004.04.20. 00:00 | szerző: Đuke | Egyéb
It wasn't long ago that we gave a review of Remix64 vol. 2, and to remain on subject, there's a new CD (in fact, their second album) by the Danish rock band, Press Play On Tape, that was published not long ago. The better exterior and interior hides well thought-out, higher quality music, too. Much of the design [of the sleeve] recalls the legendary Zzap magazine: just like in the mag, there's a small review of each game, and next to each are self- deprecating caricatures of the reviewers themselves. What a great idea! It was also a great idea to put a cover into the CD sleeve in the style of Kraftwerk (band members replaced by the musicians of PPOT, of course). There are also some pictures (I want one of those C= T- shirts, too!) and the lyrics to the songs. Speaking of lyrics, a unique feature of this CD are those vocal pieces that contain not only human voices (this wouldn't be that special), but the guys wrote complete lyrics to them, and their performances recall the style of Green Day and Justin Timberlake here and there.
Let's see what's on the album:
1. Hypa-ball vs Mission AD (Keith Tinman/Fred Gray)
2. Arkanoid (Martin Galway)
3. Tiger Mission (Johannes Bjerregaard)
4. Phantom (of the Asteroids) (Rob Hubbard)
5. Kettle (Ben Daglish)
6. Bionic Commando (Tim Follin)
7. Comic Bakery (PPOT remix remix) (Martin Galway)
8. Nemesis the Warlock (Rob Hubbard)
9. The Way of the Exploding Fist (Neil Brennan)
10. Fairlight (Mike Alsop)
11. Star Paws (Rob Hubbard)
12. Flimbo' Quest (Reyn Ouwehand)
13. Defender of the Crown (Jim Cuomo)
14. Roland's Rat Race (Martin Galway)
15. Wizball Game Over (Martin Galway)
16. Wizball High Score (Martin Galway)
17. Sacred Armour of Antiriad (Richard Joseph)
18. Crazy Comets (Rob Hubbard)
As you can see, the album contains music by "famous" composers almost exclusively, although the selection contains a few lesser known pieces, too. Let me discuss those covers that left a lasting impression on me for one reason or another.
Here's the very first one, Hypa-ball vs. Mission AD, which can be described simply as one of the best covers I've ever heard! Although in the review of their first album I growled that "it's too rocky for me" and "it's too guitar centric", but that doesn't bother me at all here. I feel that every piece is present in a sufficient way and they create a perfectly complete cover. The dynamic dance club feeling is further enhanced by the concert-like effects and the girls shouting "Let's play Hypa-ball!" and other things from time to time. I really like how Mission AD is worked into it. I have no idea where the idea came from, but I think it was excellent.
Comic Bakery is very good, too! It's an interesting piece because polyphonic vocals can be heard throughout the piece. I deplored vocals before, but here kudos to them! The melody, of course, matches the original, but it gains a new meaning this way and it would make a perfect ballad. At the middle of it is interrupted by some concert-feeling reminiscent of funny Justin Timberlake style. I really liked the really sneaky deep bass that that can be heard from time to time, whose sound is most likely made by a synth. Oh, the "Boyband video" is awesome BTW!!
Nemesis the Warlock is also very good, almost befitting of progressive rock, maybe because the band had rewritten it at places in a way that actually enhanced it. I think it's one of the best covers on the CD. With its dark, almost ominous style it's very close to the feeling of the original. The mix is very good, too: basically based on guitars, but at times the keyboards take over and these two alternate each other.
Although I liked Flimbo's Quest on the original composer's cover album better, I have to admit that PPOT performs it very pleasantly, too, despite the fact that it is suspiciously close to that other version. The "croaking" bass and the techno-drum gives a lighter feeling to this piece which wasn't very deep to begin with.
Defender of the Crown is the biggest surprise of the CD! It's a very good cross of a superb idea and awesome performance. To be honest, my very first reaction was surprise, as this is unlike all the other covers. It's sort of like the King's Singers, i.e. zero percent instruments and 100% vocals. The king laughs, then come the chancellor and introduces the bards who will praise the king. Then following the melody of the original tune we can hear 4-5 singers in a great choreography (I believe the band members themselves sing). It's obvious that there's a lot of work behind it. At the end of the song the king says that it's the best song he's ever heard, so they can go away. As I said, the idea is great, but not entirely new, because on the Back In Time 2 Deluxe CD from a few years ago we can find similar witty covers from MayBeBop. But this one is more professional.
The Wizball Game Over is like an overture to Wizball high Score which we've head before on Back In Time 3, although I liked that one better due to the choir. But I'd like to praise this version, too. The rhythm guitar, the harmonica, the cowbell all make this playful tune very light and loose. I was afraid that some heavy distorted guitar will ruin the harmony, but luckily, this was avoided.
Antiriad is a big favorite of mine! This 1986 composition by Richard Joseph is not really in the crossfire of remixers for some reason. Luckily, PPOT has changed that and they made a somewhat too rocky, but definitely effective cover out of it.
And Crazy Comets is simply very good: it's dynamic, rhythmic and very melodic, a worthy rocky ending to this CD.
One sentence about each of the rest of the tunes: I find the Arkanoid cover mediocre. But the distorted vocal and the Kraftwerk-like "Boing Boom Tschak" ending is not bad at all. Tiger Mission is pretty good, but I wouldn't have put that "action" part into the second half which I find a little weak. The Green Day-like Phaton (of the Asteroids) wouldn't be too bad, but the singer's voice is not very "compatible" with this style, to say the least. Kettle is there both musically and technically, it emphasises the leisurely and playful mood that characterizes the original SID, but somehow it doesn't gel for me. Bionic Commando is a favorite game of mine, and its music wouldn't be too bad, either, but its mixing and its rock style... Somehow the traditional rock setup and the guitars (except the base) don't really fit this tune. Exploding Fist is short, but it's not convincing as a rock piece. Fairlight can easily be forgotten, although it was a good idea to alternate loud and soft sections. Star Paws is, unfortunately, very much like rock to me. You can do some headbanging to it, but that's it. Roland's Rat Race is magnificent, although we've heard its remix before together with Flimbo's Quest and Arkanoid. It's more "lively" compared to the one on Back In Time, although that contained some good ideas, too. I would lean towards this one, especially with the saxophone.
I am somewhat bothered by the fact that to the best of my knowledge out of the 18 tunes at least 8 has been remixed on other CDs, too. I think there are plenty of other, yet unremixed tunes from which they could choose (even from composers featured on this CD). I also find it disturbing that despite their claim that they play only on "real" instruments (of course, it's debatable how "real" synthetizers are), it's not entirely true. It may appear like splitting hair, but the rather characteristic cymbal sound of the electronic drum kit is especially noticable on some tunes (for example, at the beginning of Antiriad, but on some slower tunes, too).
Most of my critique underlines the rocky style, but it doesn't mean I don't like rock. On the contrary! I like it very much, but in some cases less would've been more. It speaks of musical discipline when musicians are able to "stop" at certain places so they don't intervene too much in the music. The CD provides both good and bad examples of this. At the same time Press Play On Tape's second CD, "Run/Stop Restore" shows a definite improvement compared to the first one. The vocals are good, the tunes are more refined and inventive. If you don't believe me, try it yourself: www.pressplayontape.com. ■
English translation © 2004 by LaLa