I love to hang out with online pal Cabel Sasser, founder of Portland software company Panic, whenever our paths cross in real life. But I only just realized that he was an early 90s tracker musician whose work I listened to in England as a kid, on my Commodore Amiga, decades before we met.
One of my favorite things to do on my Amiga was write music in trackers, a unique, note-by-note way to write tunes that was half-music, half-programming. ... Then, Cut to Yesterday. Rob Beschizza, out of Boing Boing, read my post about The Incident music. To summarize: not only did [a U.K.] magazine actually publish my dumb song, but a 13-year-old Beschizza remixed it, and as internet pals we had no idea until yesterday that we shared this connection.
You’re pretty cool, universe.
Cabel says his work's aged badly; bear in mind that these were free digital sampling apps hacked to run on home computers a fraction of the cost of a Fairlight. But what made his tune cool and useful to 12-year-old me is the fact that it was a simple, melody-based track with just two or three cleanly-looped instruments sampled at the same pitch.
Back in the glory days of tracker music, songmakers would hurl in every possible feature to push the low-tech hardware to its limits. Notes would be programmed to warble at as high a hertz as possible to emulate chords on a single audio channel. There'd be elaborate collections of samples in multiple keys, intricate envelopes coded into the notation, and general nerdliness throughout. The underlying code was often impenetrable--and effectively uneditable.
Cabel's track, however, sounded great, made perfect human-readable sense under the hood, and was fun to experiment with. It's no surprise at all that he's now the co-founder of an app-maker renowned for its perfectly-designed, no-nonsense creative apps.