For the past 10 years the Swedish C64 demoscene has been cramming up in small venues somewhere in the south of Sweden atleast once a year. Often meeting during the summer, these demoparties have been tremendous exercises in data-lifestyle versus summer heat. For those of you not familiar with the demoscene, there is unfortunately not any good read-up that explains it well. In short, it’s a “global” (EU/US/AU+misc) digital subculture formed in the mid 1980s, based around kinetic audiovisual works (demos) optimized for a specific machine, usually including some pretty hardcore programming. It is a subculture because it has its own artefacts, communication channels, stratification, rules, rewards, journalism, charts, etc. It’s almost completely separated from economics, politics, and law (atleast the oldschool demoscene) – a predecessor and a source of inspiration for the digital social networking of today. While newschool demos for Windows and so forth, tend to look like 3D-programmed electronica music videos, oldschool demos look … like something else. And to be honest, it’s often not very interesting for “outsiders” to look at. The demoscene is a very internal subculture, although completely open for anybody to join.
Anyway. On the 1st of August, about 64 people gathered in Lund for St LCP in the house of the Swedish National Home Guard (!?). It is always a delight to come back and see the familiar faces of the programmers, engineers, designers, graffiti writers, doctors, junkies, datahippies, composers, copyslaves, ascii&petscii-artists, etc, that will work and hang out together for 70 hours. Although a heterogenous bunch of lifestyles, it is essentially north-European males, 25 years or older. (greetz to Lady Lazer and Otro for glitching the trend!)
On Friday I met up with Mogwai, who has taken the role of data doctor lately – spending most of his time fixing non-working Commodore machines. He has done some serious research in the problems of burning the soundchips of the C64 – the SIDs. These chips tend to break easily, and are getting less easy to find by the hour (thanks to MidiBox64, Prophet64, Sidstation, grrr). If his SID-condom actually does the trick, Mogwai has saved the universe! My SID-murder rate has been about 3 per year, but luckily most people are a bit less rock&roll-wannabe… So, Mogwai gave me the first prototype and now I will run it through some hard data terror.
On Saturday night, the competition was held. Although the demoscene is not as competitive/identity-building as it seems to have been in the early days, there is still some prestige in winning a competition. And there are still quite obvious norms for yer common demoscene production. You can check the results and download the C64-releases here and everything else eventually here. Some of my cups of tea were:
Dino – Övertid (C64-music, 6581) — semi-scary filter electro mash
Jucke – Bögmonster (C64-music, 6581) — sample-based slow house.
Linde – Att Sova Utomhus (C64-music) — drone!
Triad – Tristate (C64-demo) — glitch-stylish loop demo
Horizon & Co – Super Larsson Brothers (C64-demo) — maximised demoscene stylee – mega-routines!
Otro – Robo Streets (Amiga-graphics) — Otro mashy mirror style
Droid & Lady Lazer – Glitch my Dutch ZT (ZX81-demo) — glitch rasterbars youtube
…and then some shameful self-promotion!
Otro&Goto80 – Mazemod Radio (Amiga demo) — Otro-stylish and my drum’n’bass
Goto80 – Ponky (C64-music, 8580) — dub-electro-blues
And an excerpt from the liveshow on Friday night, while you were sleeping: (but for full enjoyment you can’t watch this embedded version – click it instead, yooo)