ReMix: Donkey Kong Country 'Beneath the Surface'

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Donkey Kong Country: Kong in ConcertDonkey Kong Country

Let the curtain be unveiled. The product of several months of coordination and collaboration amongst many familiar OC ReMixers and spearheaded by the judges panel's Digital Coma, Kong in Concert officially debuts with this classic DKC Aquatic Ambience mix from Vigilante. In its own words, Kong in Concert (KiC):

"is a collaborative arrangement project born from the music of Donkey Kong Country and created for the purposes of reviving, reinterpreting, and rearranging its entire soundtrack with our combined talents, honoring those who originally composed it, and reawakening the nostalgia and love for a landmark videogame."

Those who follow the forums closely or visit the IRC channel regularly will probably have at least heard whispers, if not been directly exposed to related conversations and development surrounding the effort. This is but one of twenty-two ReMixes, comprehensively covering Wise, Fischer, and Beanland's milestone soundtrack, and while it is definitely one of the premier tracks both in the original and as part of KiC, there's plenty more where this came from. Look for more KiC mixes to join Jesse's opus in the following weeks, and by all means check out dkcproject.ocremix.org for the entire smorgasbord of simian sounds. You can do the project a bandwidth favor and obtain high-quality WAV versions of every track by downloading the torrent, as well. I was present during some of the conversations surrounding what to name the project, and I have to say that "Kong in Concert," while perhaps not amazingly innovative, is identifiable, appropriate, and a quantum improvement over some of the other candidates... including "Gorilla Con Gusto" :) On the off chance you are not familiar with it, I should mention the previous Relics of the Chozo project, which Protricity coordinated and which similarly takes the Super Metroid OST en masse and rearranges it - more at smproject.ocremix.org. Just as that project succeeded in bringing together an amalgam of talent and interpreting a single game soundtrack as a collective entity, so too does KiC refashion the DKC score.

Enough background - on to the music. Jesse has put together a fluid, floating, jazz/rock/blues masterpiece of a ReMix, taking the immersive, appropriately-titled "Aquatic Ambience" track and going where the SNES couldn't, adding varied guitars, live sax, brush jazz and acoustic rock drums, endless, spiralling ambient pads, delicate, gradually escaping piano lines, a well-seated bass, and perhaps most importantly, refined and perfected mastering and mixing that creates a totally enveloping experience. This was one of the cooler aspects of the original - for perhaps the first time in a console game, it seemed like the audio was truly environmental; 3D so to speak, regardless of whether it was being played on more than two speakers. Jesse's taken that and enhanced it even further, wrapping this mix's positioning around the listener and giving each instrument/track a distinct identity. Much greatness in this department.

The arrangement itself starts out with the familiar, flowing, repeating patterns, covered here on a cross-panned acoustic with careful attention to dynamics. Things get progressively jazzier, with a steadier, vaguely latin beat comin' in at 2'20" as the piano does some more improvisational work, followed by an extended jazz guitar solo around the third minute. At 4'18" the rock drums make their not-so-subtle entrance, with an electric lead adding to the increased forward momentum, along with the reintroduction of the sax, this time doubled at parts. This is all very, very awesome stuff. Dramatic, well-played, interpretive, polished, and interesting. The last minute is the only part that may or may not hit you right; it works for me to a certain extent, but the cameos from other famous game themes (Metroid, Zelda 64) that are brought in seem a little tongue-in-cheek when compared with the tone of the rest of the mix. Minor quibble, to be sure, as this is a superb mix from a ReMixer who tends toward longer, more explorative, and highly refined productions, all of which shows in the end result. Taken as the poster-child for KiC at large, both this mix and the project itself come highly recommended.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
timaeus222
on 2014-06-30 15:58:53
A little boomy past the 4.5 minute mark, but other than that, this is awesome. :)
genius11433
on 2012-07-26 22:45:47
Marmiduke;855335 wrote: Everything comes together effortlessly and in its own time, resulting in a sexy, soulful masterpiece. Much love for this one.

Took the words right out of my mouth. This is one sexy piece of music, perfect for being with that special someone.
Bahamut
on 2012-07-04 14:52:03
This is a pretty sweet take on the Aquatic Ambiance, even being conservative. Great job by Jesse here that remains sweet to listen to even 8 years later!
Marmiduke
on 2012-04-15 07:51:07
The Donkey Kong Country soundtrack has a dark, atmospheric vibe that I don't think anyone has nailed nearly as well as Vigilante with this mix. Simply put, this is a stunning rendition of an incredible melody.
It's pretty hard to mess up such rich material, but its even harder to surpass it.
The intro makes me sway, the body makes me a kid again and the outro makes my heart ache. A beautiful piece of music that isn't betrayed by its ambition or its performances. Everything comes together effortlessly and in its own time, resulting in a sexy, soulful masterpiece. Much love for this one.
Pyro Paper Planes
on 2011-08-22 00:06:29
You know, I never even noticed the cameos until people pointed them out in this thread. I DID notice the similarity to Kraid's theme, and just thought it was a coincidence.
By far my favourite mix on an OverClocked ReMix album, if not one of my favourite pieces from this site. One question: Are the drums real? That deep snare is one of the best snare hits I've ever heard. The ride cymbals work well too. What type of reverb did you use for them?
Tuned Logic
on 2011-08-21 23:23:06
One of the best mixes on this site, bar none.
ectogemia
on 2011-08-21 10:35:10
That descending string line near the whispery part, simple as it is, wrenches me every time I hear it. I love it.
What a fantastic mix.
Except the Frog cameo. Wind Scene (or whatever the 600 AD overworld theme is) would have been perfect.
Crulex
on 2010-12-29 09:29:43
Oh, nice! I'm really digging the jazzy Latin beat that gets stronger over the course of the mix. This is simply amazing! Man, this is a sexy ReMix, especially in the last two minutes. Damn.
MechaFone
on 2010-12-25 10:10:52
Holy crap amazing. Not looking for hidden messages here, I just enjoy this incredible remix whenever I'm looking to space out or relax.
sergio
on 2010-10-10 13:08:54
From first hearing this, I identified 5.07-5.09 as a piece of the Chrono Trigger main theme (in addition to the other three obvious references). Haven't seen anyone else mention this, though... am I reading too much into it?
I have some vague recollection that Vigilante had a habit of inadvertently 'improvising' pre-existing phrases of music, so perhaps that could explain it.
-Dan
on 2010-09-27 10:38:06
Simply my favorite relax mix. So sweet.
Congratulations and thank you Vigilante!
Nintendude794
on 2010-09-25 17:11:02
Altermentality;716617 wrote: Hehe. I know this song is pretty old, but I've been listening to it for years. Now that I'm a member, I'd just like to say how much I appreciate it.
Funnily enough, I hadn't played Chrono Trigger when I first heard this mix. It was only later, after I had finally been introduced and it became one of my favorite games of all time, that I saw someone mention the Frog cameo in this song. I had gotten so used to hearing this piece as it is, and recognizing it as its own beautiful work, that even after hearing the original Frog's Theme I failed to put them together until it was pointed out to me.
The cameos are a creative touch. I was reading this thread and someone else mentioned the feeling of lost things lying at the bottom of the ocean. That's a great analogy. To me this song is also somewhat like sinking into an ocean of nostalgia. Your memories from different periods in your life are coming gently and inobtrusively back to greet you- I've been playing DKC since I was old enough to comprehend anything, and Zelda came in when I was around 13, and Chrono Trigger a few years after that. For me, it's almost like moving from the past- where things seemed to move a lot slower and I had all the time in the world, which is why the piece is a DKC theme- and rushing towards these later themes in the future where everything seems to move a lot faster, which is why they are only snippets.

I caught that the whisper was the 23rd Psalm (I've been raised a Christian; I'm a LOST geek, remember Mr. Eko? Anyway...) I knew there was something hauntingly familiar about those guitar phrases in the fifth minute. Now I know where from for certain.
Donkey Kong Country was my first video game. Aquatic Ambience has pretty much always been my favorite theme from the soundtrack. So it's fair to call this mix my absolute favorite OCremix of all time, especially in how many times I've listened to it as compared to every other excellent remix in my collection.
Beneath The Surface, lost things lie at the soul of the sea. This song is soaring through a storm of solace; recalling all the depressing disappointment of your life, but failing to summon tears, you only close your eyes and wince as if pinched by years past. Regret hides behind fear of the unknown; life is a love and hate relationship with the universe. Beneath The Surface, the scars are deeper; bad memories more fervent than the good. But the good is still there, and everywhere, so you never lose sight of all importance. Refreshed by this piece, you hold on to hope and survive to thrive.
This song obliterates oxymorons and clears conundrums, it simplifies death and destruction with love and life by embodying them in a soothing sweet sorrow. I also leave it on loop as I struggle to fall asleep.
Released from prison after life behind bars, an old man in a movie (I will not mention the movie for this could be seen as a spoiler) narrates: "I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but... now, they're everywhere! The world went and got itself in a big, damn [U]hurry[/U]..." Yes we have.
(here's the scene, check it out)
"This is your life and it is ending one minute at a time." -Fight Club.
Better make the most of it.
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a'flying. And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying."
Altermentality
on 2010-09-24 12:49:47
Hehe. I know this song is pretty old, but I've been listening to it for years. Now that I'm a member, I'd just like to say how much I appreciate it.
Funnily enough, I hadn't played Chrono Trigger when I first heard this mix. It was only later, after I had finally been introduced and it became one of my favorite games of all time, that I saw someone mention the Frog cameo in this song. I had gotten so used to hearing this piece as it is, and recognizing it as its own beautiful work, that even after hearing the original Frog's Theme I failed to put them together until it was pointed out to me.
The cameos are a creative touch. I was reading this thread and someone else mentioned the feeling of lost things lying at the bottom of the ocean. That's a great analogy. To me this song is also somewhat like sinking into an ocean of nostalgia. Your memories from different periods in your life are coming gently and inobtrusively back to greet you- I've been playing DKC since I was old enough to comprehend anything, and Zelda came in when I was around 13, and Chrono Trigger a few years after that. For me, it's almost like moving from the past- where things seemed to move a lot slower and I had all the time in the world, which is why the piece is a DKC theme- and rushing towards these later themes in the future where everything seems to move a lot faster, which is why they are only snippets.
a_d
on 2010-09-20 19:13:26
Some people have commented on a video of this I uploaded to YouTube and pointed out some neat easter eggs:
5:19 Psalm 23 (Bible)
5:27 Frog's Theme (Chrono Trigger)
5:40 Kraid's Lair (Super Metroid)
5:55 Title Theme (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
OA
on 2010-08-27 11:41:45
Pretty nice stuff, good soundscape, and though i got jarred out of the feeling with the frog cameo near the end, overall it was lush and interesting. Nice performances and everything clicked.