"To err is human, to forgive is against company policy."
Quoted by Mike Poole
CD MERCHANDISE REVIEW: MANIACS OF NOISE
"THE VIDEO GAME SOUND MAKERS"
by Richard Karsmakers
This review is a bit of a last-minute addition, and not actually
a game or a piece of software at all. Rather, what we have here
is a CD along the lines of the "Give it a Try" CD released some
years ago with German Thalion software's sound programmer Jochen
This time it's made by the Maniacs of Noise (i.e. a Dutch guy
called Jeroen Tel), called "The Video Game Sound Makers" and a
whole lot less pretentious than the aforementioned piece of
The CD, some 42 minutes (not exactly though) in length, features
11 tracks, some of which were originally composed for game titles
such as Ocean's "Robocop III" and "Lethal Weapon III", U.S.
Gold's "Technocop", Acclaim USA's "Alien III" and Psygnosis'
"Bram Stoker's Dracula", as well as a 20-second TV/radio
commercial sound bit done for the Nintendo Netherlands
advertisement campaig. I think it need not further be explained
that this guy has made it big. As a matter of fact he seems to
have made it so big that he spends a large part of his waking
hours on the phone with top people at just about every software
company in the world, usually some of the better ones who do
games on loads of consoles and stuff.
Well, what's the actual CD like?
The CD as a whole contains light music (no heavy orchestrations
and heavy moods) with a distinctive beat, sometimes leaping
across the border to tasteless house crap. It's well-produced,
though, and I like most of it (except for the house stuff -
"House is no music. It's physical exercise!" Jeroen Tel quote). I
could imagine some of the stuff getting some airplay if ever this
CD would be put on some disc jockey's desk.
Let's fly across the tracks quickly, to give you an impression
of the whole thing.
* Robocop III - A really quite funky song, with some good sax
* Lethal Weapon III - A song with a great drum track. Jeroen
also sings on this one, and not too bad either (though I'd prefer
* Technocop - Another song with some sax, with added distorted
guitar power chords. This is one of the better tracks on the CD,
actually. It also has some really interesting background noises.
* Play Your Game - More interesting background noises, but
that's one of the few things I like about this 150 BPM house
meets disco house track. Basically it's a soft-spoken "I wanna
play your game" accompanied by house drums, typically disco hand
claps and hi hats, and lots of little background sounds.
* Digital Drugs - A song a lot like the previous one, really,
possibly even a bit faster. The sampled voice this time says
"Digital Drugs" all the time. Interesting background noises
* Take You Up - The house drums are a bit less aggressive now,
but on top of it you get some rapping. Again, really interesting
background sounds. I also like the drum fills and the odd melodic
changes. The intro is a bit like "2 Unlimited".
* Alien III - Another good song, this one. It seems Jeroen takes
himself more seriously when doing songs for games (it seems the
house tracks were not). It also seems Jeroen does not have a
"house style" such as some other sound programmers, something he
has in common with, for example, Rob Hubbard. There is really a
lot of different stuff on this CD (except for the thirteen-in-a-
dozen house bits).
* Bram Stoker's Dracula - Starts off as if you're listening to
Vangelis' "The City", then a cry, followed by a church organ
laying down the basic stuff. This song is really excellent. The
bass sound is really strange but very interesting. Unlike some
sound programmers, Jeroen can capture the mood of a game. This
one really fits with "Dracula". This is definitely my favourite
track. I believe that, with some more distorted guitar and less
light synths, this could be a hard rock track. Unbelievable that
the same musician is capable of those house tracks.
* Pure Pressure - House again, but even more filled with sounds
now, heavier drums, distorted sampled voices and open hi hats
that give it something extra. It's not too fast, and not
altogether too bad.
* Rock Me - Jeroen is using good synths and drum computers. This
track has really unusual drum sounds, including "Ugh" and such,
and an interesting something like slap bass. Quite an OK track,
actually. I have to see that the "rock me" sample sounds awfully
much like "f*@k me", though.
* Starwing TV sound (Bonus Track) - Only 20 seconds of pure
climactic mayhem the kind of which you would expect in an utterly
bombastic TV commercial - which is exactly for which this was
used (for the Dutch Nintento "Star Wing" TV campaign).
Interesting, to say the least.
Concluding, some of the tracks are really not my cup of tea at
all - the house-related ones. Production is good, but I think it
could have been something heavier here and there. I could feel
production ideas leaping at me when I heard the songs, like "If
he's done this a bit louder here people would be cringing in
their chairs" or something. On the whole, however, it's a CD I'd
be much more tempted to play than "Give it a Try".
Although I would program my CD player to skip the house tracks
And, erm...who the hell is Jeroen Tel?
There is quite a possibility that Jeroen Tel as such is
virtually (if not totally) unknown to you. Basically this can be
accounted for by the fact that he's only done one ST piece of
music, something for UbiSoft that never really got famous or
Some of his music, however, got converted onto the ST by Jochen
Hippel: "Scoop" (in the "Union Demo" copy option) and "Cybernoid
II" (in the Hewson Consultants game) are but two of them.
Jeroen Tel was born on May 19th 1972, which makes him 21. He
plays the piano/keyboard, guitar, bass guitar, recorder and
drums, something which is no surprise if you know that he came
from an extremely musical family background; his father is a
choral conductor, pianist and piano tutor, his mother plays the
recorder, his brother is a composer/songwriter and a very
talented performing musician on keyboard, guitar, bass guitar,
drums, etc., his sister is a violinist, pianist and bass
guitarist and one of his uncles is a music teacher. Even his
grandfather used to play the piano in picture theatres in the
1920's and was the co-founder and the honourary president of a
renowned men's choral society.
"From the day I was born, I was surrounded by musical
instruments," Jeroen recalls, "Of course, as an infant, I had to
explore them, or, rather, check whether they were made by man or
something. You know what children are capable of."
It took only a short while until he got interested in the
serious side of music. "When I reached the age of six I got
seriously interested in musical techniques," he relates, "I was
taught how to play the piano and the recorder and more or less
automatically started to experiment, maybe something like
composing. When my brother learned to play drums, I used to
practise with him very often. During that time I had the chance
to explore my rhythmical instincts and at the same time I picked
up a great deal of rhythm techniques."
Perhaps it was only logical for Jeroen to discover computers
eventually. After all, what instrument allows you to be as
flexible as a computer?
Jeroen jumps at the question. "I got my first computer, a very
simple machine, when as was...er...about ten," he guesses, "I
loved programming it, because it gave me total control as far as
that's possible. I was about twelve when the Commodore 64 became
my performing device. It had to perform my music exactly the way
I told it to. Can you imagine what kind of musical freedom that
gave me? That freedom gave me the chance to develop my own
perception of music."
It didn't take long until the hobby started to earn him some
money, too. He met fellow Dutchman Charles Deenen (then known as
TMC, The Mercenary Cracker, who primarily ripped music from
games), and a long friendship started.
"After two years, around 1986, 'Maniacs of Noise' was founded
and demos were sent out to software companies all over the world.
At a computer trade show contact was made with them. Since that
time, I've been asked to compose music for a lot of games."
I asked him whether any of his games had perhaps won any awards.
Indeed they had.
"The music for 'Turbo Outrun' I did got the 'Best Music on 8
Bit' award, and this year I received the '1993 Audio Award' for
the music and sound effects I did for the game 'Alien III'. I'm
quite proud of them, it makes you realise that there are people
out there who like what I do, besides my family."
"When I was eighteen I moved to England to work in-house for a
software company called Probe. Six months later I decided free-
lance working was more my kind of thing so I went back to the
Netherlands, although I still regularly visit them."
I was interested to find out on which systems he did his thing.
The answer was impressive.
"I used to work on the Commodore 64 but now I concentrate on CD
& CD-i, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Gameboy,
Sega Master System, Megadrive, Game Gear, Atari Lynx, Commodore
Amiga/CD-32 and IBM PC and compatibles. I recently did the CD
'Maniacs of Noise - The Video Game Soundmakers', too."
What is the key to successfull music performance?
"The actual performance of a composition has always been and
will always be my greatest concern. It's one of the most
important ingredients of music. That's why I spend a lot of time
developing techniques to create sounds that perfectly match the
music I have in mind."
What does the future hold?
When speaking with Jeroen, he told me he is planning on doing
something for the Falcon in the future. He claims it has the
proper processor and decent enough hardware specs to warrant the
development of a soundtracker and sound synthesis module the
likes of which are now known on machines like the Commodore 64
and Amiga. He'd keep me posted on future developments.
Also, there are plans of him making a compilation of some of his
best ever tunes (including "Scoop" and "Cybernoid II") to souped-
up synthesizer versions on a best-of CD to be released some day
in the future. News about this will also be brought to you as
soon as it becomes available.
He might move to California next year to work for a major
software company. But whatever happens next, he'll be composing
Should you, as a software company perhaps, be interested in
letting Jeroen do some music for your games, he can for now be
reached at the address below:
Maniacs of Noise
5702 JD Helmond
I think you could also inquire there if you wanted the CD (don't
forget to enclose IRCs for a reply, though).
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.