Uncle Art: Elite II Orchestral & Retrogaming Music Remakes
by Holly Jazz Lowe
Dave Lowe remakes some of his most famous Amiga Atari ST C64 ZX Spectrum game music & records Elite Frontier themes with real orchestra.
BACK THIS CAMPAIGN HERE! + SEE THE VIDEO!
About this project
In the 80s and 90s, my dad Dave Lowe who also went under the name 'Uncle Art' made music for computer games. His techniques were pioneering in his constant quest to not let the music be compromised by technology. He even had vocals on the Atari ST's AY chip which was thought impossible because the AY chip was incapable of sampling, instead he used bespoke look-up table to squash the fully studio recorded audio into a 4 bit sample and used the machine's volume controller of 0-15 to move the speaker cone equivalently to the 4 bit sample to create the music he'd recorded. And that's how you were able to hear "STAAAAARGLIDER" singing out of your Atari ST in 1987! More information about the technical achievements of Uncle Art Music can be found on our website here.
Some of his famous game titles include:
+Elite II Frontier & Elite III
+Starglider 1 & 2
+Street Fighter 2 (Amiga Custom Conversion)
+IK+ (Amiga conversion original composer: Rob Hubbard)
+Beneath A Steel Sky
+Microprose Formula One Grand Prix
+Incredible Shrinking Sphere (ISS)
I know these games and the music that accompanied them (often as a separate cassette to play along with the game - ahh those were the days!) are held in a special place to some people - myself included! As someone who was games testing for my dad since I was 9, I'm a gamer through and through, but there's something really special about the music in particular to those early games. People on the internet and in person when they find out who my dad is always ask:
"Are you going to remake the tracks?"
Well now this question can be answered with a yes!
We're going to make a release an exclusive Limited Edition Kickstarter album called 'A Temporal Shift'
. The album will contain remakes of my dad's most famous tracks and also very excitingly, full live orchestral recordings of his Elite II Frontier Main Theme and Second Theme. We're going to record these with The Chamber Orchestra of London
The remakes will most likely include the following although the tracklist is not set in stone and by all means we are open to taking opinions and polls from the backers to see what they'd like to hear on there.
Elite Frontier - main and second themes (recorded with real orchestra)
Incredible Shrinking Sphere (ISS)
Rasputin (first ever Uncle Art game music project!)
Formula 1 Grand Prix
Please note the teaser you can hear on the video is only short pieces interwoven as a showcase of different styles and tunes that we're talking about for this project. On the album each piece will be much longer, although we may still choose to interweave some of them.
These remakes are really exciting to us. What my dad was always trying to do was to not let technology limit the music, which is why there were vocals and reggae breakdowns and melodies that stay with you forever! Generic was never in the Uncle Art ethos! And now - we have all the scope in the world! Between the two of us we play nearly every live instrument going and we are sooo psyched
about creating tracks that do the compositions proper justice. I'm talking Pink Floyd-esque atmospheres of meta-galactic space and orchestrations to bring down Jericho and all manner of mad things to splatter about in there! We might even take some of the chip-tune stuff from the C64 and sample it in, use banjos and harpsichords and trash cans and filthy bass sounds and intricate vocal harmonies and counterparts. The possibilities are just limitless and we're really looking forward to showing people what we can do today!
A Temporal Shift will be pressed on a special Kickstarter limited edition
CD and Vinyl. We're only going to press (as close to as possible) the number of people who have backed it in Kickstarter, so having this limited edition CDs and Vinyls shows that you backed it from the beginning. In fact, it's pretty much the only way of getting a copy since it's only for the fans on Kickstarter! You can only buy it if you back it!
There will be a high quality download that will stay up forever however you get to buy it at a discounted rate by backing it here on Kickstarter.
Even if any of the tracks go on to be licensed in any future projects, this physical album will not be for sale anywhere else other than on here.
There are also Uncle Art Music t-shirts in the rewards (we wear ours in the studio all the time, sad as we are!)
We are really keen to have mind-blowingly good presentation
for the CD and Vinyl so the artwork is really important to us. We have someone in mind and will start to showcase you his work as we go along as he will work bespoke for the project.
If we reach £36,000 then we will add an extra CD of a 'Collected Works' plus bootlegs & demos. (This CD will go to everybody who pledged a signed CD reward or higher) A signed CD by Dave Lowe of a collection of his original game music along with some rare / unreleased / salvaged from the Amiga hard-drive / DATs versions including but in no way limited to: + After Burner extended - (not the version off the internet it's a part of it that the program used to grab all the bits from)+ Starglider 2 - extended+ Carrier Command - extended+ Elite Frontier - original studio recording (U20 demo that was given to David Braben to get the gig)
+ ISS (Incredible Shrinking Sphere)
As well as as much other stuff we can grab from Exotica and around the world of his original music as possible. Nice to have it all in one place and presented as a collected signed CD with artwork. Piece of history!
If we reach £40,000 we will be able to do everything we said but that we can use a much larger 50 piece orchestra at Abbey Road. It will be a much bigger sound and for us, and I'm sure a lot of you, there's just something extra special about being able to record in Abbey Road Studios.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.......
IT'S JUST ANOTHER MISSION!!!
Risks and challenges
Some of you may know that this is version 1.2 of this Kickstarter due to some technical issues but we feel much more comfortable with what we face now: remakes of the originals and orchestral recordings of the Elite Frontier themes. Technical difficulties aside from the original project, we were aware that many of our backers were mainly interested in the orchestral Elite recordings and as this was a stretch goal in the old project, we felt it a bit unfair that a large proportion of our backers were backing something that might not happen. So we feel this is the best of both worlds for everyone now: an album of remakes INCLUDING the orchestral recordings and a stretch goal for the collected works of the original game music plus some bootlegs.
As far as risks or challenges go, it's getting Kickstarter right that really is the hardest part and we've learned a hell of a lot from the first 10 days of the first one. Making the music is the fun part - We've left ourselves a lengthy amount of time in case of any big problems. I do work away and around the world a lot but we tend to work in the studio in blocks as opposed to whimsically every day, which makes it a lot more focused.
The orchestral side of things is being greatly taken care of by the guys at COOL Music Ltd. who manage the orchestral recordings of game and film music literally every day. In fact they even represent many game composers in an agent field, so we are really in very good hands with them.
As I said - the Kickstarter is the hardest part
, and reaching the funding goal is the most risky bit! But we have been so warmed and encouraged all of our backers from the V1.0 project that I know you guys will help us as much as possible hit those goals.
BACK THIS CAMPAIGN HERE! + SEE THE VIDEO