Remember 1999? That ebullient mix of pre-millennial tension and excitement? Remember the bug that threatened to take us back to the stone age and Kelly Brook on The Big Breakfast? The establishment of the euro and Ricky Martin in the charts, and all that. It was good wasn't it? Halcyon days, really, before everything turned to absolute shit and we all started wearing cargo pants and getting really into As If. 1999's most important moment wasn't the ousting of Guinea-Bissau's president João Bernardo Vieira by military coup, or Ole Gunnar Solskjær shinning in the winner at the Nou Camp: the release of Playstation game Music 2000 was.
The Jester Interactive developed, Codemasters released studio simulator was revolutionary, giving millions of us an insight into how fucking boring it must be to actually spend all day making music. As a 'game' it was torturous; fiddly, unresponsive, demanding and difficult. As a tool it was invaluable.
Hours of my own personal hinterland between the innocence of childhood and the assumed-experience of early adolescence were spent putzing about with Music's in-built sampler, trying to turn one second snatches of Jack White's guitar into something that didn't sound just like a once-second snatch of Jack White's guitar sampled at super low bit rate plonked on a very rudimentary drum track.
s visual approach to musical content generation - it's all blocks, bars and colour coding - is immediately familiar to anyone who's spunked a cumulative few weeks of their life away on late-night Fruity Loops sessions with only a joint for company. It turns the complex act of creation into something that's immediately understandable and, theoretically at least, easy to pick up. The only thing is, you need to actually have ideas in the first place. Which I never really did.
Sure I tried to slam the pre-made riffs together, creating tonal approximations of music rather than music itself, and yes, I fucked about with the piano roll making pointillist melodies out of rudimentary samples of trumpet notes, and, yes, your honour, I am guilty of actually plugging in my housemate's PS2 only last year to try and make a Burial-esque tune out of one of the vocal snatches that litter the disc, but, sadly, in all my years of fucking about in this digital shed, I never came close to finishing anything.
Happily, there are people out there who had a bit more nous than me, a bit more patience and, well, a bit more talent than I posses. These musical maestros overcame the limitations of the system to produce tunes you didn't know a humble 16 bit video game console were capable of.
For a starter, check out this sensational attempt at transmuting Robert Miles' dreamhouse classic "Children" into Playstation parlance. It's majestic end-of-the-pier stuff, a driving, dark take on a sentimental favourite. Just try not to think of the things that could have been achieved in the time it took the madman behind it to make a dream come true.
Shit, this next one is the real deal. This is Tresor-worthy techno wrought out of a machine that came out twenty years ago. Fuck your 808, chuck the 303 in the bin and I'll see you in VIP at Berghain on Sunday morning.
Music 2000 wasn't just good for chintzy club tracks that sound like house with a really flat tire. Though Dizzee Rascal eventually quashed the rumour that most of Boy in Da Corner was a product of pottering about with a copy of this in his Playstation, there are a few guys out there who've decided to think outside the constraints of the 4/4 thud. To my, admittedly uncultured ears, this sounds just as good as any jungle track I've ever heard thirty seconds of before skipping that bit of a Ben UFO mix. I think this is what they call "a roller." I think.
I don't know about you, but I'm heading to the nearest dump now to see if I can get my hands on a battered old Playstation before picking up six cans of Stella and steeling myself for a night of musical mayhem. Hot Creations, get ready.