1987 was a good year for amateur music makers. The E-mu SP-1200 sampler came out and was a crucial element in the golden age of hip-hop, because of its reasonable price, decent interface and the characteristic crispy 12-bit/26.04kHz audio quality.
In Europe, a different technology spawned a sample-based revolution in music: The Ultimate Soundtracker for the Amiga. Thousands of kids started to make music using the sounds from the two floppy disks that came with the program: ST-01 and ST-02. They were packed with samples from synthesizers like Roland D50 and Yamaha DX21, and were so heavily used that they became “the sound of the Amiga” for several years.
Soundtracker was later hacked and modified to be less buggy and more user-friendly, most noteably by Mahoney & Kaktus’ Noisetracker in 1989. The tracker standard was set free, and spawned a sort of remix culture where open source mod-files were spread around the world for free. This was a thriving movement through the 1990’s and beyond, leaking into electronic genres such as gabber/breakcore, IDM, UK hardcore/drum n’ bass, and so on.
Meanwhile hip-hop had a different development since it relied on record labels to release music. It was vulnerable to copyright mongers and money makers who crippled the use of samples, and today you need serious money to sample famous recordings. The “tracker scenes” never had problems like that since it used its own distribution channels, and was never as $-relevant as hip-hop. Pretty much everything was free.
ST-FM is a celebration of this culture, and the original sounds of the ST-01 and ST-02. I invited old legends and fresh talents to make new songs based (to some extent) on the original ST-sounds. It comes as an online music disk (“the computer equivalent of an album“) and as a cassette available through Bandcamp.
ST-FM includes early pioneers (4mat, TDK, Enzo Cage, Omri Suleiman) and younger talents (Linde, Firedrill, Svetlana), modern performers and sceners (Vim, Tero, Ingemar, Zabutom, Qwan, me), and two italo disco Amiga heroes (Dr. Vector, Balboa).
It’s released on protoDATA, a new sublabel to Data Airlines, run by me and Dubmood. You can expect more juicy releases in the future, be sure of that.
Can’t get enough of the sounds of ST-01 and ST-02?
Here’s some weird suggestions:
Listen to songs by Karsten Obarski, who made The Ultimate Soundtracker and ST-01 and ST-02.
Soundtracker-songs at Modland (not necessarily using ST-01 and ST-02)
Mazemod – the online Amiga radio with a careful selection that includes some ST-smelling tracks.
Some 90’s eurodisco reminds me of early tracker aesthetics, like Getaway by Maxx.
The soundtrack to Liquid Sky was made with the Fairlight CMI, and sometimes sound like dorky Soundtracker experiments.
I once managed to get some ST-sounds into an indie movie soundtrack. Check the end credits in ANGRY.
This Atari ST-game with MIDI weirdly has some ST-vibes.