WMR Review of "Tuzie"

As it appears at WMR.


                        by The Virtual Reality Band

                             (16ch XM, 03:50)
                         (vrb-tuz.zip [188K/208K])


 "Tuzie" (rhymes with "Suzie") is a melody that's been bouncing around in
   my head since around 1984.  It's first presented by the clarinet with
    piano accompaniment, then, after a solo section, given a big swing
   treatment, but ending quietly.  It's the Virtual Reality Band's first
                                 release."     [The Virtual Reality Band]

                                  Samples -----------------.
                              Originality -------------.   |
                                Technical ---------.   |   |
                              Composition -----.   |   |   |
                                  Overall -.   |   |   |   |
                                           |   |   |   |   |
                                           |   |   |   |   |

              PanDuh                      78+ 76  76  80  57
              Rebriffer                   74+ 75  80  75  60
              Peraphon                    74= --  --  --  70
              Mansooj                     72= 75  --  78  60
              CCerberus                   70+ 93  95  93  66
              Fanta C                     66+ 78  60  60  45
              MING                        58- 65  70  35  60
              JuiCe                       57- 85  55  --  45
              Shrift                      55- 40  70  60  40
              Parallax                    49= 50  50  50  45
              DRift                       49= --  --  --  --

)----------------------========[ Mansooj ]========------------------------(

Tuzie doesn't waste any time getting into things.  The lead in is a quick
percussion bit which falls into the main part, which itself comes off as a
 crossbreed of very light French influence (I think you'd have to really
 listen hard to detect this), and a sort of...sheesh...this is one of the
 few modules I can't really find words to describe properly.  I'll say at
 least one thing in its favor here...it's unusual and climbs high on the
     variety scale; although the basic style remains fairly constant

  Ok, the only real problem sticks its neck out very early on:  the lead
  instrument.  A rather strange choice in that it's a kind of Casio-oid
synthetic sax/synth, which really stands out like a sore thumb against the
    rest of the sample palette.  The majority of samples, although not
extremely good, are pretty decent, but the lead is just completely off the
   wall, and because it -is- the lead, we get to hear it a lot, and it
  consequently detracts greatly from the overall potential of this tune.

In essence, it's a great shame because this is actually a pretty nifty bit
of tuneage which rambles around making use of a nice array of sounds going
 through interesting compositional gymnastics.  For example, there's some
  nice horn-section work (although, I have to say that it was a bit thin
  sounding at times), pleasant piano work, lively and varied percussion;
  about halfway through there's some cool vibes and, subsequently, some
   horns which lifted the song to a higher level.  Shortly thereafter,
  there's a tempo change ushered in by an interesting, if not inspired,
percussion segment, and then the outro of piano, synth and a smattering of
                those vibes draws together the loose ends.

 All told, the orchestration, the variety, and the clever use of a rather
small set of samples to yield a full range of sounds, implies some worthy
skills and musical sense behind the notes.  Again, it's just a shame about
                         that lead synth...bleah.

   Since this is the composer's first released effort, it can be safely
 expected that there will be better things to come.  More time taken with
     the choice of lead instruments, and perhaps a bit of work on the
structural coherency (it seemed to ramble a little -too- much in places),
        should pave the way for some quality stuff in the future.

)----------------------========[ CCerberus ]========----------------------(

  I have some very mixed feelings about this song.  Lots of times, I can
   handle happy music, but this song sometimes was just a little bit TOO
happy...sickeningly sweet.  I'm not sure I'm really clear on this "Virtual
 Reality Band" business, but if I understand it correctly, a fairly large
group of people contributed to the writing of this song, which explains the
 rather high degree of complexity evidenced by each individual instrument.

  Unfortunately, the old saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" comes to
 mind here.  Each instrument is orchestrated with HIGH complexity in this
song, but it's just like with a real-life band--if everybody's trying to be
a "front man," then the whole thing just goes to mush.  That's not ENTIRELY
the case here, but at times it does get a little silly.  I mean, one of the
  big advantages of writing in the module format is that the entire song
 sounds exactly the way the composer wanted it to.  He/she doesn't have to
  deal with trying to get a band together, and trying to get them to all
 learn their parts, etc.  What we have HERE, though, is basically the same
as what you would get if you had about 8 people recording using real-world
  instruments by just playing back the recording of what the other people
 have played and adding to it.  It doesn't tend to work very well.  Like I
  said, everybody starts playing a solo and the whole thing just goes to

  But I'm sounding too harsh, I know.  This song really isn't BAD.  It's
   actually pretty good.  It's extraordinarily complex and uses a lot of
  musical techniques that I love to see in modules, such as unusual time
signatures and intelligent percussion.  There was a lot of really skillful
    use of the effects available in the XM format, and overall I got an
         impression that the musicians knew what they were doing.

  It's a shame that panning wasn't used at all...that rather confused me,
 considering the large number of instruments.  Each could have been panned
  to its own "on stage" position, and the effect would probably have been
                               pretty nice.

)-----------------------========[ Fanta C ]========-----------------------(

Hmm, this is a problematic track.  It's trying to get high marks; it's got
 what it takes to be a good MOD, and it's obvious that plenty of work has
    gone into it--and all this makes me like it, but it does have some
  idiosyncrasies.  The accompanying text says that this is "Doug's first
           composition to be released," so with that in mind....

  Good intro; but the selection of lead instrument for the second section
   (00:17 - 00:45) is appalling!  Luckily, after this, the instrument is
   relegated slightly to the background.  I'd guess it was some kind of
synthesised clarinet?  The readme text says it is a clarinet...where's the
    vibrato and tremolo?  Where's the feeling?  Such a forward, natural
   instrument should be "played" well.  The rest of the instruments are,
 however, fine:  nice synth strings, drum samples and real strings.  Shame
                        about that bloody clarinet.

The music covers many styles which is commendable, but is not executed with
100% precision.  For example, throughout the track there are overall volume
 variations, and in some places the volume abruptly changes over patterns.
 A prime example of this is pattern 12 at about 1:16.  Brushed snares are
too loud and forward, and the electro-horns are too quiet.  There are more
mixing inconsistencies, but it's not my job to do what the author should do
  in the first place.  Hence the low mark given for the "samples" rating.

  Thus in conclusion:  I like it, but it would have benefitted from some
"tuning." Specifically get that clarinet sorted, and level out the overall

)----------------------========[ Parallax ]========-----------------------(

 This is a style you'll rarely see with tracked music: "MIDI" style.  Let
   me explain: the samples seem to have come straight from a cheap Casio
 keyboard (but they sure are original, at least the guy must have sampled
  them himself).  The percussions follow a pattern which is inspired from
 the usual pattern-in-ROM parts from any synthesizer.  How many MIDs will
               you download which will sound like this one?

  It sounds just like a demo song that comes with a synth, and I mean it.
 The composer sure has played with his keyboard a lot since this song has
   some portamentos arranged so that they look a lot like a bender wheel
 effect.  But, besides that, I can't see the point of using an XM for this
    song, since a MID would have been much easier to do, and would have
            sounded better with a good General MIDI sound card.

  The tune itself can be compared to one you'll hear in the credits of a
 casual TV show.  There are a few nice parts in the song, though, such as
the part at the end, when there's only piano, strings and a sad violin (or
 is it a baritone?).  This part should have been found at the beginning of
  the song since it's not bad at all.  With the current arrangement, many
             people might just "tune out" before reaching it.

)---------------------========[ Rebriffer ]========-----------------------(

  This is one of the most poppy sounding MODs I've ever come across, but
 it's a great shame it doesn't quite deliver what it promises.  There are
 some very weird sounding samples sprinkled around the track, and I would
 have thought the composer could have found better samples to work with.

The track itself meanders a bit more than you would expect, which doesn't
 help to establish the track as it should.  Because of the sample quality
there's quite a lot of 'crosstalk' between the leads, making the leadlines
appear busier than they actually are.  A bit more attention to separating
       these leads or using more harmonious sounds may have helped

There's a really familiar break based on something I definitely recognise
  but can't put my finger on, and it'll probably keep me awake for days
  trying to remember it.  About the best sample in the track is a really
   good vibe sound but that doesn't say a lot for the general choice of
 samples.  There's also a *very* strange drum breakdown at the very end,
which definitely sounds unfinished.  Ultimately, this tries hard to be an
          upbeat, bright track but it just doesnt quite make it.

)-----------------------========[ PanDuh ]========------------------------(

At first listen, I thought this song sounded a lot like those old handheld
  CASIO keyboard demo-songs; you know, where you press "rumba" and then
  "start," and the keyboard churns out this little ditty in a particular
                     beat that sounded oh-so cheesy.

   In actuality, the tune itself is not bad--it's just hampered by poor
samples.  First of all, get rid of that hihat, it's too synthetic, and too
   loud.  The song becomes maybe 75% better without the hihats (I know,
  because I tried listening to it with the "hihat channel" turned off).
      Also, the clarinet sample needs to go--I've heard far better.

There was one part in the middle that really reminded me of the theme song
  to Magnum, P.I., and although the cheesiness of it made me chuckle, I
don't think it was intended to be humorous (well, this song was originally
      thought up in 1984, so I guess it would be appropriate, huh?).

  Aside from all that, it's not bad for a first release, and I happen to
like the Queen-esque ending and how nicely it wrapped up the song.  All in
 all, I don't think this is a bad module, but something should really be
                         done about the samples.

)------------------------========[ JuiCe ]========------------------------(

 This reminds me of those one-man-band dudes who do gigs on hotel terraces
     on the seaside.  Well, they do here in Croatia, dunno about other
 countries.  Anyway it is a cheesy lovesong type of thing.  All sweet and
                            yucky and stuff. :]

 Style prejudice aside, this could be a very good song, if it weren't for
  the lead woodwind sample, which is so flat and unrealistic with -zero-
  expression, and also hopelessly out of tune.  And since it carries the
           song throughout, it obscures any good thing about it.

 And there are quite a few of those good things, namely the composition is
  excellent, with smooth transitions and bridges, great arrangements and
    melodies (although again, very cheesy - yuck. :]).  It uses lots of
 transitions and variation to avoid repetitiveness, but it manages not to
  get annoying by doing this too often.  Worth mentioning is the slowdown
               near the end, which seems especially nice....

But the lead sample is so horrible all this nice work falls through.  Even
 though I don't care for this style, I'd have to say it's a shame because
      this could probably be a really excellent representative of it.

)------------------------========[ MING ]========-------------------------(

  Hum-de-dum.  What an extremely...nice song we've got here.  It is quite
  frightening how nice it can be.  It's so nice it's almost offensive.  A
bunch of crisp, but fearfully nice samples of real-life characters, like a
 standard piano, standard drums, big band horn section, and in the middle
  of all this, some chip as a melody carrier.  All this is thrown into a
   mixer to produce a sweet, pulpy mass close to--but not quite--muzak.

It is all, both in composition and technique, quite well done, well mixed,
and impressively complex, and retains correct backgrounds.  This indicates
 that there is some musical theory hiding behind the curtains, as well as
skill in using the tracker.  Except for one thing that made the production
  even flatter, and that is...no panning whatsoever.  As if I would care.
 I'm sure the song came out exactly as the composer intended, but I'm not
    able to figure out why the composer intended to make a song as nice
 (meaning inoffensive meaning uninteresting meaning boring) as this.  Were
   the intentions really the effect it had on me: in one ear and out the

)-----------------------========[ Shrift ]========------------------------(

This is not the sort of piece I listen to, but not because it is happy, nor
 because it is instrumental.  Thematically, Tuzie runs all over the place,
    jumping from showtunes to ethnic to pop to lounge to circus.  It is
    technically well constructed, in the sense that it has fairly well
 orchestrated melodies and accompaniments, but the style is too shifty for
me to say it has any unique sound or style.  In that sense, this song plays
 on style rather than establishing its own, and so I label it as a sort of
        technical/thematic exercise for the non-composing musician.

 Outside of this, the samples are mediocre, and although some effects are
    well used, they do not compensate for the poor quality of the piano

 If you are interested in any of the above styles, and appreciate entirely
upbeat music, this would be a fine one to check out, because after you get
past the sample quality, this does represent many fine examples of various
                 such styles in one frustrating< 
 s         /----------------------------------------------------\
)----------------------========[ Peraphon ]========-----------------------(

 Why is it that this song reminds me of the theme music of the TV show Alf
 in some respects?  Beats me, but that's the first thing that came into my
mind when I started to listen to this song.  I think it might be the piano
structure, how it underlies the rest of the song and how it is played as a
 melody line rather than in chords.  Another thing that strikes me is how
easily this song could be converted into an excellent MIDI file, so that it
 would take up less space and still sound very much the same.  So many of
 the samples in this song sound like ripped GUS patches.  Classifying this
    song, stylewise, is an utter nightmare:  It's a happy, upbeat piano
 something.  The samples used are of a very good quality, although some do
  sound a little tinny in the higher octaves.  Overall, it's one of those
   songs that could have been better but could have been a hell of a lot
                               worse, also.

)------------------------========[ DRift ]========------------------------(

 This song is very happy.  Too happy, actually; it makes me think of some
   ancient pop song.  The melody is pretty good and simple, however, the
problem with it is that it has almost no pauses; when one section ends the
 next picks up immediately.  This was intentional, I can tell, but I still
    found it annoying.  The best part is in the middle, where a generic
instrument gets a solo, and jumps up and down the musical scale.  The last
fourth, though, is an absolute disaster.  The song loses all coherency; it
     sounds almost like two different songs playing at once.  I'd only
             recommend this if you love the happy-jazz style.


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