media and technology


the lowdown

Games . Web Sites . CD-ROMs

John Henderson and Susanna Beaumont get screen-dazed and confused over the latest releases.

Allen Trilogy (Sony ‘~ ‘3; PlayStation, £44.95) Anyone who has played Doom before will relish the notion of a p similar game based .__.‘ 0n the Alien 'l'rilogy, and this one designed for the Sony Playstation is the first that lives up to the idea‘s potential. All the nasties you could crave. from chest-bursters to face

gripping atmosphere. The action is glued together with stunning FMV sequences, which helps to explain the conflation ofthe three plots. and everything about this release oozes quality like the aliens do slime. A game only to be played during the hours of daylight. (JH)

Toy Story (Megadrive/SNES. £44.95)

Toy Story. the movie. and its nostalgic view of childhood may deny the existence of video games, but its producers are not about to miss the golden merchandising opportunity their film presents. 'on Story the game remains faithful to the plot of the movie, with the player taking control of Woody and guiding him through the numerous difficulties he is forced to face. Although it combines a variety of different gaming genres. it avoids losing overall coherence. and the graphics would be more at home on a next generation machine. If. like the characters in the film. Toy Story aims to be your favourite plaything - it stands a very good chance. (JH)

Hypertext Journal Web site

It's tourism gone virtual. From 8 & B anecdotes bacon served for breakie before vegetarianism has a chance to be declared to visits to historic sites and encounters with lecherous pub landlords. Nina Pope and Karen J. Guthrie are en route to the Highlands. Thelma and Louise-style in a Mini Metro. Inspired by 18th century travellers. Boswell and Johnson. this modern-day duo have spumed pen and ink in favour of the modem. lnputting daily dairies. artworks and holiday snaps to their web site, the cyber traveller gets a chance to be there in the Metro, especially when there is a problem with third gear. Over the next few weeks their site will be awash with computer-generated artworks, feedback from surfers and more travellers tales. (SB)

You can access Hypertext Journal at

http://www. unity. co. uk./lryperte.rt0ournal/ Edinburgh 's Cyberia at 88 Hanover Street. 220 4403, is acting as a venue where access to this web site and e—mail box are on ofler at reduced rates.

Channel 4’s new late—night music slot aims to put black music in the spotlight, but will itjust create another TV ghetto wonders Eddie Gibb.

s l.uIer ll’it/t ./oo/.\‘ llo/lrou/ vies with Mark

Radcliffe's The White Room for the muso

highground. Channel 4 is launching a new late- night music show which could easily be dubbed (or remixed. for that matter) ‘The Black Room’. Instead it‘s called Flora. and it has been commissioned by the new b-boy on the Channel 4 block. David Stevenson. As commissioning editor for youth TV he has been keeping the hip hop spirit alive since fellow Scot Stuart Cosgrove was forced to take opera seriously in his new role as head of arts and entertainment.

This is not the station's first foray into black youth culture: rapper Ice-T has been fronting Batu/asst 'I‘l'. which was essentially The Word with ragga beats. BBCZ also recently had a go with The lilie. a strange

Def II and Soul Train have also attempted to put the street onto television, but looked rather like a white television executive’s idea of black culture.

music/quiz hybrid fronted by Lisa I‘Anson. Radio l's only weekday. daytime black l)J. Youth series like Def II and Soul 'l‘ruin have also attempted to put the street onto television. but looked rather like a white television executive‘s idea of black culture.

Hora is a more straightforward music show which ditches the idea of a presenter at all. favouring the video-only format of l'l‘V‘s ('lutrt Short. Fora while a kind of black Beax is and Butthcad idea was considered but w as swiftly dropped. The show‘s main innovation is the linking items. which Stevenson describes as ‘shout outs‘: short acapclla links recorded by black artists which help break up the back-to-back videos.

Compared to the expense of putting together a live package of bands such as The ll’hite Room. Flava is relatively cheap programming. and its success should depend largely on the quality of videos.

However. this could be a strength. as black American artists. particularly in hip hop. have long been amongst the most innovative users ofthc pronto

video to sell their records. This could either be because their videos have to work harder to make it onto rock-orientated music stations like MTV or. as TV critic Allister Harry of black newspaper The Voice suggests. because there are a lot of frustrated black feature filmmakers otrt there. Whatever the reason. l‘lava has the advantage of being able to select from some imaginative videos. though it should be said that at the dumber end of the scale there's an over—supply of black—babes-in-bikinis. lixpcct some R Kelly style bump and grind‘.

‘You don't see very much black music on television at the moment because everyone's barking back to Britpop.’ says Stevenson. "l'hese videos are packaged in a clever way so it's more than a dtrde with a guitar

what it's got is the fashion and the attitude as well as the music. \"idco as a medium conveys a whole number of meanings.‘

The timing for l’laro is pretty shrewd. as black music from street soul to'iuriglc moves ever nearer the mainstrcatn. with artists like Mary J. Blige and Coolio chatting with only belated support from Radio I. "This is black urban dance-orientated music which comes from the streets.‘ says the show's associate producer Dominic Benjamin. who is a former head of dance music at Virgin Records. ‘We want to supply people with music they wouldn‘t normally get a chance to listen to.‘

Channel 4 insists that although this is a black music show. it isn‘t just for black audiences and white artists might even get a look in ifthey're good enough. ‘lt's a breath of fresh air.’ says llarry of 'l‘lie Voice. ‘Wben they refer to black music it's not racially defined. I don’t think they're creating a TV ghetto ~ they'r'ejust responding to what's out there. which is a thriving


I’lai'o starts on ('honne/ 4 on l’ri /2 April at /l.~l()/mt.

Flava ot the month: Channel 4 gets hip to hep with its new black music programme

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The List 5-18 Apr I996 85