Around 1995, I started experimenting with electronic music. The idea for the first song originated when I was making some noise on the computer with a friend. We looped a sample recorded from a prank phone call and put a synthetic beat under it. As the victim of the prank call was a teacher named Hetty, the song was dubbed ‘Hetty-House’. I turned it into a full-length ‘song’ by cutting and pasting samples in an audio editor, which was cumbersome and produced a pretty awful result in glorious mono 8-bit sound. Yet, we managed to get the song played by a DJ during a party and people actually danced to it.
Shortly after, I discovered ‘PlayerPRO’, a Mac program which allowed to create songs in an advanced variation on the ‘MOD’ music format (dubbed ‘MAD’). It allowed 32 channels, 16-bit samples and mixing, stereo panning per channel etc. I created a more listenable version of the ‘Hetty-house’, and started experimenting with other styles. Most of the songs were related to techno music, and later on I attempted to make some drum 'n' bass songs, with varying success.
The problem with PlayerPRO and the MOD format in general was that it was too limited to do much interesting stuff. It only allowed to play samples at different pitches and volumes. Any effects like echoes needed to be simulated by replicating tracks with a delay. Flanging and phasing effects could be simulated as well with other tricks. But things like lowpass and notch filters or anything more advanced were impossible. In the end it was quite difficult to make songs not sound as if they were MOD-like songs. In 1997, I discovered ReBirth by Propellerhead Software. This offered a vastly different way of making music, emulating two Roland 303 synthesizers and an 808 drum machine (later on, also the 909). I did make a few songs in it, and planned to somehow combine it with PlayerPRO. But my interest started to decline and so did my amount of available spare time. Moreover, PlayerPRO evolved in a way I didn't like, so this gradually meant the death of my attempts at making music.
To give you an idea of the kind of songs I have made, here are some fragments and full songs. I picked some of the most differing examples to give an idea of how I experimented with styles. They are encoded in Xiph's Ogg Vorbis format, because this offers a very good quality vs. size ratio, and it is open source and royalty-free unlike MP3/WMA/AAC. Ogg can be played in most media players. For QuickTime, there is a Vorbis plug-in, which also enables iTunes to play Oggs. The bitrate on these files is pretty low to save on bandwidth, so do not expect hi-fi quality.
Important: You cannot play these files by opening their URLs in an external media player. It might work if you have a browser plug-in that supports Ogg Vorbis, or a browser with built-in support for the format.
In the likely case that you cannot play the files through a plug-in, download them by right-clicking the links and choosing “Save Link As…”. Then, open the downloaded files in your favourite media player. I know this is slightly inconvenient but it is a necessary protection against badly programmed plug-ins/media players and misbehaving crawlers.
These are the first 84 seconds of this song. The full version is almost three minutes long (or short, depending on your taste). This was an attempt at creating something really aggressive, and I think I was pretty successful at that. Beat rate: 187 bpm. It also has something that could pass as ‘lyrics’, which was uncommon for my mostly instrumental songs. But if you listen carefully, you will notice that they are pretty nonsensical.
Download it (22kHz stereo 48kBps)
Something entirely different and I think as most people will agree, something better too. This was my first more or less successful attempt at drum 'n' bass. It took ages to construct the drum loop, created by speeding up a sample from a rather unknown Belgian band, cutting it up and repeating parts. But it was worth it. The song initially contained an insane amount of ultra-low bass sounds, and I believe this fragment is still from that version. I created a more balanced version in the meantime.
This fragment starts at about 1 minute into the song and takes 1 minute and 47 seconds, out of a total of more than 5 minutes.
Download it (32kHz stereo 64kBps)
This is my first successful song created with ReBirth. It only uses the 808 drum machine because the 909 was not yet available at that time. As you will notice, this sounds entirely different from the other songs because ReBirth emulates real analogue synthesizers instead of just playing samples at different pitches. This is not a fragment but the entire song of 6 minutes. Enjoy!
Download it (32kHz stereo 80kBps)
After I gained some ‘fame’ with my music, a local band called PN (formerly Portie Nootjes) asked if I could not do a kind of drum 'n' bass remix of one of their songs, called ‘Romance’, from their album with the same name. It was not easy because I only had their finished song to start with, so I had to filter out the vocals myself which was not entirely successful. This is a much ‘drier’ kind of drum 'n' bass than ‘Dura Lex sed Lex’. In fact they seemed to have expected that I made another song in that style, and were disappointed with this remix. Hence it did not end up on their next album ‘Daybreak Serenity’ as planned. Nice try but no cigar. Well, at least everyone can listen to the entire song (3'34") here…
Download it (32kHz stereo 80kBps)
If the above fragments didn't make you barf and you would want to hear more, or if they made you laugh and you want to laugh more, you can download a compilation I made in 2004 of all the songs that I consider listenable. To stay in line with the silly puns that many of the song titles have, this is supposed to be an album titled ‘Lexicography’. I re-mastered the songs in 2012 to fix some issues with sound quality and add a few very subtle effects. And no, I did not butcher the dynamic range as is a fashionable remastering practice nowadays.
The download consists of a set of MP3s in decent quality (LAME ‘medium VBR’ preset), together with inlays that could be printed to fit inside a CD jewel case. The songs are arranged in the same order as they were made. You could either listen to them in chronological order to hear the evolution in quality (if any), but I would actually recommend to start with track 20 and move up until you cannot stand it anymore.
If for some reason you would like some or all of the songs in a higher quality format of your choice (MP3, Ogg, AAC, or FLAC), all you have to do is mail me.
You may spread around these fragments and songs as much as you want, as long as you do not ask money for them, and it stays clear that I produced them (i.e. my name, whether it be “Alexander Thomas” or my pseudonym “Dr. Lex,” must be visibly included). You are free to use samples from these songs in your own productions, on the condition that you mention my name in your credits and you restrict total sample length to 6 seconds (if you want to include more, please contact me). The simplest way to know if you are doing the right thing is mailing me and telling me what you're up to.