Villordsutch reviews The Spectrum Works by Allister Brimble…
If you asked most classic gamers if they would like to sit down and listen to the tunes of a ZX Spectrum for just under an hour, they’d probably look at you like you’re a fool. Expecting to be blasted in the ear with the migraine inducing screech which has been deemed as “method of torture” is sixteen countries; or possibly numerous BEEP’s rising and falling in different tones. Yet what most people forget is that – thanks to people like Dave Rogers, Jonathan Dunn, Rob Hubbard and Tim Follin – this small black machine actually sang. And now thanks to the excellent technical skills of Allister Brimble some classics from days gone by are singing once again.
The Spectrum Works was initially conceived for Bitmap Books as a Kickstarter Backer reward for their Spectrum Visual Compendium Book, with it being released originally as a hard copy version, coming in four different versions to match the colours of the ZX Spectrum, and now it’s available in digital format.
Calling upon numerous masters’ works including David Whittaker, Jonathan Dunn, Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin and Mike Alsop, Allister Brimble and his friend Jools Wills – from Exotica.org.uk – have taken actual Spectrum sounds and managed to split the three channel “AY” tracks up into their component parts, so that they could incorporate them into the reworked versions. What is delivered is something truly, quite frankly, brilliant!
The Spectrum Works starts with the prelude in which we hear the fading noise of the ZX Spectrum loading and a tease of what’s to come, then we’re straight into a glorious reworking of Glider Rider from David Whittaker; when this ends and you’re still grinning from ear-to-ear in bursts Rob Hubbard’s Saboteur 2 and you are instantly in love after just three tracks! This album is off to a fantastic start! With moods changing as we stumble into the fantasy world of Stormbringer 2, or the rock god world of Agent X and then the classic Jonathan Dunn RoboCop theme which – in my humble opinion – could never be bettered, but here it sounds magnificent. The titles continue including Hydrofool, Zub, Chronos and Platoon and when it ends…you hit repeat. It is that good!
It’s clear a lot of work has gone into making this truly beautiful selection of songs, Allister himself points out the during Agent X the Spectrum track is playing underneath the entire time. He goes on to highlight this was especially tricky as Tim Follin’s tempo was deliberately all over the place!
If you weren’t lucky enough to get The Spectrum Works from Allister Brimble on it’s original release, then I wholeheartedly recommend you get it now. This selection of music is a real must for a ZX Spectrum fans, chiptune lovers or just classic gamers that appreciate classic gaming music.