VG Frequency’s July 31, 2004 Pimp Section
Congrats to ravon & the Ormgas.com crew for collaborating with djp to get a link to the webstream on the OCR front page (and the return of the ReMix Roulette). It’s all looking good, and we’re more than glad for the extra attention! Good work, bros.
Chronblom - Wizball “Piano Version” [R:K:O #2318]
With R:K:O back in action this month, Swedish artist Per Chronberg dropped this quick but entertaining mix from the C64 classic Wizball. Though it’s dubbed a piano version of the source material, Chronblom actually starts off with the piano but then segues into a fuller orchestral approach. The reverb’s a little much, but this is a very cool 2 minutes of music from a mixer on the European scene who’s completely self-taught. This one’s currently going over pretty well as R:K:O and you’re encouraged to check it out for yourself. Hit up more of Per’s material over at his homepage, http://www.chronberg.com.
Corran & Aktulua70 - Mega Man 2 “The Road to Wily’s Castle” [VGMix2 #1961]
Corran continues looking at mixing Mega Man music, this time collabing with Aktulua for a fairly intense track, starting off with a little bit of “Quickman Stage” before moving to the bread and butter with the admittedly overmixed “Dr. Wily Stage 1.” The percussion and synth beats used to accentuate the music here were pretty questionable to me at times. The drums/beats sounded kind of slapped on, and I hate exposed claps since they stick out really badly. Some (not all) of the voice samples were kind of jarring and didn’t help keep the flow, but the energy is over the top most of the way. The guitars were hot even when other areas were lacking, and I generally liked the ideas here. For me, I was disappointed at the electronic elements involved, especially with such a strong and memorable intro, but you’ll be interested to see what direction these two went in. The source material’s really well known, so you should be able to DL this and make your own judgment call on how you like the interpretation. Interesting work from this VGMix duo.
Cyborg Jeff - Donkey Kong Country 1 “Donkey Kong Sunset” [VGMix2 #1885]
Pierre’s back at VGMix with an “Aquatic Ambiance” remix, and you might be thinking to yourself at this point, “Well why the hell do I want another one of those?” Alright; that’s a perfectly valid question. This is a mix that doesn’t hearken back to the water/swimming imagery that many other previous “Aquatic Ambiance” have embraced. Rather, “Donkey Kong Sunset” moves toward a stylistic choice that source material has never had. If you’re a fan of dance techno, you’ll enjoy the direction of this genre adaptation, along with CJ’s use of a handful of voice samples from the DKC game itself. The groove doesn’t deviate much once this gets going, but once this mix picks up the pace you’ll know whether you’re down with it or not.
Daniel Baranowsky w/Ryan Probst - Jurassic Park (SNES) “Before Time” [OC ReMix #1223]
I first heard this a few weeks ago and dropped some comments. Let’s see what I said on July 10th:
Dan recently finished up the Jurassic Park mix that essentially came to life once he heard the source tune of Yoozer’s “Isla Nublar Jam.” This one features (OMG) real guitar, so while Dan did a great job faking it in “Agony of Obscuration,” this one has some genuine geetar playin’ for ya, featuring a harder edge thanks to some layered sections and a nice bass pad. I don’t have a link for you, since I’m not sure Danny B wants it given out and he’s away in California for a little bit, so just keep an eye out for it later. (And act very surprised when you see it. He’ll like that.)
Now that the mix has been released, you better be saying “Whoa, WTF?!?” Danny B hooks it up with the live guitar skills of Ryan Probst to drop this Jurassic Park mix of the Mountains theme. As I mentioned those few weeks back, this one goes for a heavier rock approach than Yoozer’s mix, with a good fusion of various guitar tracks, synths and that subtle but still noticeable bass pad action. Like djp pointed out in his writeup for the mix, this actually isn’t the most melody-centric (making up words now :-P) mix, so you might have a hard time gaining a foothold in it while you listen to it. Yet Danny & Ryan actually do a great job using loose, even meandering variations of the source material and constantly switching up their sounds to continuously take things in new directions. I liked how a mix like this has some good energy but is actually pretty understated for a track with guitar rock elements. Es bueno.
Destiny & zyko - Submarine Attack “Into the Deep” [OC ReMix #1222]
After tapping weed to fix the original mix up with some live guitar, Destiny’s back at OCR again this month with “Into the Deep”, featuring some seldom heard electric violin. I always enjoy hearing Helen’s breathy vocals and Celtic influences in her remixes, and this one’s no exception. I know Submarine Attack’s music as much as the next guy does, which means not at all, but the melody was pretty good here and I enjoyed both Helen & weed’s strong interpretations of it; there was lots of gradual development here and I liked how everything flowed. This is a great follow-up to Destiny & zyko’s first collaboration, the Chrono Cross mix “Dragon’s Prayer: The Blackened Desire”, and Helen’s fifth OC mix of the year as she continues to make a name for herself. Feel free to hook yourself up with this one.
Doragon - Eternal Champions 1 “Alerted Awareness” [IronMix Challenge XVIII: Eternally Yours / VGMix2 #1957]
Now that I’m an OCR judge, I have the unenviable position of having to vote NO on remixes that I genuinely like. None was more apparent for me last week than Doragon’s very cool Eternal Champions intro theme remix “Alerted Awareness”. If you decide to take a look at my review along with the reviews of several other judges, you’ll notice that the main problem that held this back from getting accepted was the percussion. Nonetheless, this has some of the most beautiful atmosphere you will ever hear in a remix, thanks to Doragon’s masterful choice of samples and lead sounds. Even if you haven’t played Eternal Champions, I’m really sure you’ll enjoy most of the elements going on here. Once Doragon can refine his percussion techniques and take them to that next level, he’ll be a sure thing for OCR no matter what he decides to remix. Doragon may be out of music for a little while for reasons unrelated to this judging decision, but I certainly hope circumstances allow him the time to keep honing his obvious skills.
Fatty Acid - Chrono Trigger “Rhodes to the Past” [VGMix2 #1502 / OC ReMix to-be-posted]
Following up with another remix that I voted NO on is Joe’s “Wind Scene” remix that managed to split the panel voting with the question of how dramatic the arrangement was. Despite the debate on that, I can guarantee you that this is one excellent sounding mix that flavors the popular source tune with some electronic sounds and thick beats, resulting in a pretty good genre adaptation mix that strictly arranges rather than rearranges. Don’t forget the Rhodes either, which is the primary inspiration for this mix. You’ll likely be feeling the energy here, and Fatty Acid’s choice of source material is gonna ensure that he gets a notable reception with his pending OCR debut.
Game Over - Mega Man 3 & Mega Man 2 “Cataclysmic Clash” [OC ReMix #1224]
Sweden’s answer to real ultimate power in the game music rock band department is finally (finally) back with this high octane “Topman Stage” mix. Ironically enough, I seem to be the only one who enjoyed “Cataclysmic Clash” more than Game Over’s absolutely legendary Punch-Out!! mix “Little Mac’s Confession”. And because so many of you out there have been underwhelmed, per se, by this mix, I can only encourage you to kiss…my…ass! :-D Seriously though, I thought the lyrics here were pretty good despite whatever cheese factor some might think they have, and the guitar work was full of quality Swedish meatball flavor, including a dope break at 2:41 into the Mega Man II “Boss” theme with some freestyle added on top. But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the sage “judge Oji” quoted in the ReMix writeup. That man knows no wrong. As if there was any doubt, be sure to check out Game Over’s latest and rock that shit down.
Kadmium - Final Fantasy 7 “Despair, Inc” [VGMix2 #1741]
Jesse Higginson brings a unique approach to the game remixing community with DEATH METAL! Now to be honest, death metal is kind of a cheesy genre for me, what with its lyrical style and all, so I’d rather spend time listening to funny faux metal from someone like my dawg Kompressor (!). But all things considered, I have to recognize unique and capably made work when I hear it, and this is certainly it. Definitely not for everyone, “Despair, Inc” features Kadmium with some menacing lyrics that get the point across and are tough to understand, just like real death metal. ;-) Admittedly, the power behind this mix is somewhat lacking when taking the genre into account. The guitar could have more raw energy and the percussion could be more bombastic, but this is nonetheless some pretty cool stuff that ain’t nobody else is makin’. If you’re open to a mix like this, well then sir or madam, you’re in luck.
Lix - Final Fantasy 5 “The New World (Remember Free)” Version 2.0 [Levo Lution XII]
For a quick shot from the Japanese remixing scene, we’ll go to Lix Exest, who has a brief but melancholy string & piano piece tackling the middle section of the 8-minute long “A New Origin”. It’s a little repetitive, as it goes for two straight loops of the same material, but it’s short enough where you don’t particularly notice that. Maybe Kaleb Grace would agree when I say that this sounds similar to the more moody stuff in the style of Masashi Hamauzu’s SaGa Frontier 2 soundtrack (very phat soundtrack). A very short, but beautiful piece here that’s instantly accessible to most any fan not for the source material is covers but it’s very emotive atmosphere.
Lloyd Banks, Eminem, Nate Dogg & 50 Cent f/DCT - “Warrior, Pt. 2 (Resilience Mix)” - [http://www.thebigshot.com] - Feedback
Let’s do the disclaimer. If you don’t like swears, stay the fuck away. (And indeed, I bask in the irony of that last sentence.) DCT has another hot blend mix featuring a capella vocals redone with original beats, this time featuring G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks with support by Eminem, Nate Dogg & 50 Cent from Banks’ solo album “The Hunger for More”. Duane’s beats here aren’t as involved as his blend remix of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”, but often simplicity is key here in the hip-hop game, and that what you’re getting here. And was that a sample of Sagat laughing from Street Fighter Alpha 3?!? Hotness yo. You know I caught that. DCT always does a great job taking mainstream a capellas that, frankly, I wouldn’t listen to and making them much more laid back and accessible. Phat shit as usual from the Big Shot. (Ha! DNA!)
MC Chris vs Robot Sock (Matt Wilson) - “Boys Don’t Cry…Unless It’s Final Fantasy” [Think Similarly: B-Sides and B-Buttons] - Track Feedback / Album Feedback
Matt Wilson’s chiptune work is fairly underappreciated in the remix community, as loads of NES music purists don’t like when people expand NES-style music beyond the NES’s 4 & 5 channel sound capabilities. (Sacrilege, I know. [rolls eyes]). Nonetheless, Matt caught my attention last year with the very cool work from his NES chiptune album done in the style of Mega Man theme, “Megaman FM”, including the very cool Sonic the Hedgehog 1 mix “Green Hill Man”. To get a little background on the origins of this remix, I asked Matt what the deal with this track was over at #ocremix.
Matt Wilson wrote…
MC Chris is a rapper who plays the role of Hesh on Cartoon Network’s Sealab 2021. His website is www.mcchris.com and he has free songs to download, various remixes, a capella tracks, and other goodies. “Boys Don’t Cry…” is just a remix I did that was straight 4-channel NES chiptune.
The younger teens in the community are much more likely to be feeling MC Chris’s lyrics here, though they’re certainly amusing to anyone else who knows how lame trying to pick up ladies on the internet is. Matt’s work here is excellent, as he stays faithful to the NES sound limitations and manages to create some very energetic and full sounds here. I thought the mastering was meh, since everything could sound sharper and clearer, but the overall presentation is great and you won’t find anything like it around. Keep up with the threads above for more info on Wilson’s in progress chiptune album “Think Similarly” and check out the action at http://www.highscoreonline.com to hit up Matt’s popular Flash animation work, including the cartoon series High Score and Bonus Stage.
Mythril Nazgul - Chrono Trigger “The 6th Omen” [The People’s Remix Competition 19 / VGMix2 #1053]
As mentioned in his VGMix description, Myth managed to go through five ideas before settling on this sixth one for the remix and coming up with something really solid. Considering I heard Bladiator’s own PRC19-winning remix of the same material (“Woman in a Black Dress”) a few weeks when PRC19 wrapped up, I was really surprised with how I couldn’t place the two as remixes of the same theme. Myth manages to take some pretty basic sounds and weave some true rearranging magic on ‘em to produce this very liberal and inspired take on Yasunori Mitsuda’s “Black Dream”. The synth choices come together wonderfully, showing how one can create a mix that stands out regardless of any sample limitations. Good combination sound choices, interesting progression, and tight work from the always-improving Mythril Nazgul. This is one that comes at you in a different way and a mix that I think you’ll be impressed by.
Nasenmann - “Kurd Dreams” [Original Remix Competition 5] - ZIP of ORC5 Entries
Nasenmann proved victorious for ORC5 as he remixed Chockster37’s original MIDI into an interesting excellent ambient/guitar/wind combination. Cool work here at providing a slightly unsettling atmosphere through the dark ambience, guitar, and various sound effects & vox that contrasts well with the lighter instruments added into the equation. Check out the aforementioned ZIP file in order to pick this up, alongside strong runner-up entries from TO (”Chee of Chambertron”) & Less Ashamed of Self (”Cheezy Does It”).
Sefiros - Silent Hill 1 “Bleeding Out” [VGMix2 #1982]
I never played Silent Hill at all (hey, I don’t care), but like any game I’m not familiar with, good music can always supersede my reluctance to check out a particular game’s music. The first encounter I had with the source material here, Akira Yamaoka’s “Not Tomorrow”, was from an asskicking rock cover WIP that K. Praslowicz never ended up finishing (and he’ll likely beat the crap out of you if you bug him about it). So with that in mind, I knew I had to give Bryan Henderson’s take on the same theme a look and see if I was down with the Scottish, haggis-like flavor. This older mix of Sefiros’s is primarily a piano piece with some effects on it as well as some MEATY bass (damn straight!). The realism and dynamics on the piano aren’t there at all and the percussion is meh, so those are areas of improvement that would have really made this sound a lot better, but the general feeling here is good; moody at the outset and picking up in intensity around the 2:30 mark to become more forceful before dropping back down for a simpler finish. This mix won’t PWN it on you, but it’s definitely got some good aspects to it that made it worth checking out.
SnappleMan - CastleVania 2 (Game Boy) “The Crystal Coffin” [VGMix2 #1979] - OC Feedback
In a drunken haze, SnappleMan posted the first completed remix in his effort to remix the entire CV2 Game Boy soundtrack (also proving that Snapple isn’t his real beverage of choice). Rejoice, for Andy’s b00zed up mistakes are your gain with this guitar-driven mix of track 9 of the GBS soundtrack. Until Andy pimped out the CV2 Game Boy soundtrack my way, I never knew how good it was. I’ve always been partial to CastleVania III myself. But the CV2 GB music is good the whole way through and will provide excellent fodder for SnappleMan’s ideas. “The Crystal Coffin” functions mostly as a straightforward rock arrangement of the source material, with quality production and proficient axe work from Snap. As Andy continues to refine his game and get more work out there, he’s poised to make a serious mark on those fans among up who NEED their heavy rock fix, especially those who frequent the OverRocked ReMix links area. I’ll be seeing what I can do myself to get him up on there!
Star Salzman - Xenogears “Pillar of Salt” [VGMix2 #1934 / OC ReMix #1225]
Having talked about this last week, and gushed my proverbial fandom on it, let’s quote what I said on the 24th:
This here is, at this current point in time, what I’d consider the magnum opus of Star’s mixing career. I’ve liked other tracks more than this, sure, but there is NOTHING that even touches the effort and creativity of “Pillar of Salt.” With all the food, sweat and beers poured into the creation of this one, everyone knew this would be great. Like I said when I pimped the WIP of this last week, this is a hybrid of both Dazil & Omen from Yasunori Mitsuda’s Xenogears soundtrack featuring two time signatures, 3/4 & 4/4, AND both Arabic & Hebrew lyrics (which can be found in full at the VGMix page). Seems like everything works in pairs. If you know Arabic fluently (zykO), you’ll have to forgive Star for any pronunciation errors in the work (zykO), although it’s great work especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the language (right, weed? :-)). Meanwhile, the Hebrew sections are immaculate. Dive in and prepare to hear Xenogears on an entirely different level. Truly excellent work that Star’s got every right to be proud of. (But stop gloating in my face, bro! I don’t care how many groupies it got you!!! ;-))
And, dammit, now that this is at OCR, Star’s gonna be swimming in groupies I tell you. SWIMMING! Ya bastard…
Stemage - Metroid 1 “The Escape” [Metroid Metal]
You’ve killed the Mother Brain, but you gotta get the fuck out of there! What do you have playing in your ear? Hopefully it’s the latest track from Grant Henry in the Metroid Metal series, “The Escape.” There’s a pretty deliberate pace here, as Stemage likes to keep the tempo intact and not deviate much from the source material here, though you do get some screaming sound effects at the end. This is certainly some infrequently covered material though and another strong addition to the series as it nears completion. Pretty much all of the Metroid Metal series is good, especially the energy of “The Theme”; follow up listening to SnappleMan’s new CV2 mix by trying out the “The Escape” for more rock stuffs.
SuperGreenX w/Aurora - “Deep Breath” [http://www.supergreenx.com] - Feedback
This here’s my pick of the week! Ever since Danny let me hear the WIP of this original dance/trance cut at the top of the month, I was waiting for him to put the finishing touches on this. I’ve been a huge fan of SGX, especially on the originals side, since early 2003, and every time he drops a new track strictly of his creation, the result is smokin’ hot. I’d like to hear a cleaner version of this, since I think it’s a little muffled compared to the sharp WIP I heard just a few weeks ago, but the overall presentation is absolutely the shit. Here, Dan uses some leftover vox samples he had of the always-lovely Aurora from her work on their collab with destructo, Beyond Good & Evil “Frame of Mind”. Like I was telling Teresa in #ocremix, I originally had no idea that SGX had used her voice for his samples there, which only makes this track more of a standout. With the vocals patterns you hear Aurora’s voice take, I have no clue how Supa was able to even form a mental image of how he wanted them to work like that. Amazing work. This is quite the long track at 9:43, but this is very well-constructed effort with pulsating shake-yo’-ass energy, no annoying repetition to fall back on over the course of the track (constant development!) and creativity to spare! Don’t delay. DL today.
tefnek vs n0mad - The Revenge of Shinobi “Long Distance” [Revenge of Shinobi Remix Project] - Feedback
Recently completed, the very interesting 13-minute, 12-mix Revenge of Shinobi Remix Project spanned the course of four months and an entire ocean as North Carolina’s tefnek & France’s n0mad teamed up to give the entire Revenge of Shinobi soundtrack some quality coverage treatment. Check out the album link above to hook it up with the full 13:22/18.37MB megamix and follow the action with the full tracklist, courtesy of both tef & n0mad. Or head over to the album link and get the low on the individual tracks, which are all separately available for your listening pleasure as well. As you’ll see when you check it out, this project was structured with both mixers collabing for both the opening and ending (both ending tracks I’ve linked to above), with each mixer taking alternating works from Yuzo Koshiro’s soundtrack at roughly minute-long intervals. The transitions hear worked surprisingly well, and the groove throughout is nothing but nice. (11:35 is the best part! Hahahahaha!) tefnek’s already a more known mixer thanks to having one OC ReMix posted with one more on the way, and this finished collab project is a great example of his skills. n0mad’s moving on up as well, and you can check out the second VERSUS project he’s been working on with fellow Frenchman ReaktorZ0, the more obscure (but catchy) Genesis game Ristar. (Let’s hope RZ0 can still keep working on the project; I’d love to see it completed.) Exceptional work from both guys and a unique product you’ve gotta check without question.
Trenthian - “Oloren City by the Sea” [http://www.soundclick.com/bands/6/trentprojectmusic.htm] - Feedback
John St. John is someone who’s greatly impressed me with his creativity, predominantly in the original work areas, as Trent’s one of SoundTempest.net’s ear-catching artists, dabbling in original compositions that could be used in original game projects. Here’s we have a very brief, work-in-progress level release in “Oloren City by the Sea” that’s created as an RPG town-type theme. I liked Trent’s use of synths and effects, many of which I recognized from other artists and tracks I’ve heard. Here he makes those elements form together nicely for a very upbeat, almost ethnic-flavored piece that has infinite potential to be expanded. Make sure you have a SoundClick account if the download is a no-go. I hope John continues to add a little something to this to realize it’s potential. Otherwise the fans are gonna do the frowny face. Don’t do that to us, Trenthian![/size]
Now let’s do a quick and dirty rundown on the WIP front, just the way you like it: Pyscrow - Final Fantasy 2, Xenogears & CastleVania: SotN, GrayLightning - Final Fantasy 6, Dj MetaZero - Mega Man X5, Tranquil Chaos - Halo, zircon - Secret of Mana, TO - SimCity 2000, BliziHiZaKe - Donkey Kong Country 2, Matt Wilson - Ghosts’n Goblins, binster - Gauntlet 3, Infamous - “some dancey crap” (original)
Suzumebachi had some funny shit to say over at Rob Saunders’ server including how much he hates you :-), why he hates his insurance company, and a brief shot at Wal-Mart as he joins bLiNd & Jared Hudson as the company’s latest slave. Ah, Ty, I hope your rants never stop!
Things were heating up all over the place this week, as various debates, flames and confrontations took place. Most notable of all was the negative criticism of several mixers in the review thread for Kaijin’s recently posted Xenogears OC ReMix “Child of the Stars”. Several people argued over the arrangement merit of the mix, with Star Salzman & Kaijin in particular having dramatically different views on the situation. You’ve gotta check the thread out to see all the spine-tingling (internet message board) action, since it’s now TOO HOT to be left unlocked! (OMG!) All the fierce debate though has brought “Child of the Stars” under consideration to be reevaluated in a few months as to whether or not it fits the OCR submissions standards when the community-at-large engages in the next wave of removal suggestions for OCR1250. Keep you ears open on what will be going on with this one.
Meanwhile the VGMix forums aren’t immune to OMG (internet message board) CONTROVERSY of their own with chiptunist Matt Wilson posting up information his in-progress chiptune album “Think Similarly”, only to be met with tons of cries of false advertising. When Matt used the phrase “NEStunes” to describe the music he was promoting, several artists including Gwilym Wogan, tumult, skilled chiptunist RushJet1, and NES soundfont creator (and all-around good guy, I swear) Midee all cried foul, claiming that Matt’s obviously informal use of the word “NEStunes” implied to the public that his tracks were made exactly like original NES music, which I, in particular, thought was a weak assumption, especially since Wilson then provided a disclaimer about the nature of his tracks. With the original thread locked, lots of good debate followed via the VGMix chatterbox and the #vgmix IRC channel. Finally mv & I at least concluded that “NEStunes” might mistakenly imply the wrong thing to some people, but that its use wasn’t intentionally misleading thus not deserving the very touchy and overblown negative response it got. A lot of musicians like virt, who know a lot about making NES-sound tracks within NES limitations, contended that several NES-limitation chiptunists have used the phrase “NES tunes” which is close enough to show that Wilson can’t use it and not give off the wrong impression about his tracks that do more than a Nintendo can do. But at the same time, people have to understand that informal language like that doesn’t imply or support anything virt’s talking about. Koji Kondo or Hip Tanaka could easily say “Hey! You can’t call your music ‘NES tunes’! I don’t care if that follows the sound limitations of the Nintendo. ‘NES tunes’ implies that these songs were from actual NES games.” And the never-ending battle of words could pointlessly continue forever…even though I’m completely right. :-P In any case, some good debate was had by all, and luckily cooler heads prevailed. Check out the new thread by Matt Wilson to follow the progress on “Think Similarly”, which already has some promising work completed.
And finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the overwhelmingly bad reaction Doom 2 “Demons from Hell”, Terminator’s latest VGMix, received in both reviews and buzz comments, especially since I’m partially involved in what can only be called a bunch of harsh, downright scathing reviews. There’s some debate/arguing over how constructive one should be when reviewing a beyond mediocre remix, but some efforts can’t be saved. Check out the remix and all the back-and-forth so far to see what I mean.
And that’s all the yakk yakk this guy has for ya this week. Drop some comments and I’ll see you next week.