ReMix: Super Castlevania IV 'Shaolin's Cave'

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Super Castlevania IV

Man, I'm a lucky guy. I love the source material here - it's one of my favorite tracks from perhaps my favorite SNES soundtrack, and now in addition to Nigel Simmons' excellent orchestral coverage of this, the cave theme from Super Castlevania 4, I've got another fantastic mix of the same theme. Nicolas Ferranti, alias Nixdorux, also gives us a compelling orchestral mix. Nix's ReMix takes a bit longer to become recognizable, with an extended, very suspenseful intro that lays down an ominous progression, with the main underlying pattern from the source coming in at 0'57" as we then segue to the more identifiable harp/wind lead combination. Even then, however, Nicolas throws in his own embellishments, with strings ebbing and flowing uneasily beneath the delicate, tentative melody. Circa 2'30" things get more dramatic, with choral/percussive hits and a build towards a second iteration that's got underlying timpani rumblings, a moving wind line, and a general sense of more excitement and direction. I love how Nicolas, with arrangement alone, manages to so adeptly change the tone from suspicious to tense to frantic with common but difficult-to-implement-effectively film scoring techniques. Things end on a more serene note as the tone descends into calmer waters, with only ripples reverberating the previous, more sinister miasma. Nicolas never fails to arrange both very interpretively and creatively, while at the same time ensuring the source material is recognizable, which is a difficult balancing act to get so consistently right. He also manages to construct an equally effective orchestral mix that is nonetheless different from Nigel's take. Both are excellent mixes of one of my favorite SNES tracks; it's a subtle piece, but it fit the specific context in the game like a glove, and represents a unique gem in the more up-tempo world of gothic, organ-driven Castlevanian composition. Great work.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Bejack
on 2013-08-21 10:23:58
This is truly amazing and inspiring! I really love the intro, how it sets up the atmosphere. I also really liked the low piano notes around 1:45 and later on, very nice touch. Starting at 3:39 until the end, this feels very Metroid-esque to me, which is not a bad thing.
Rexy
on 2011-12-31 08:55:54
I remember this a lot from back at the VGMix days :D To think, it's been 7 years to the month, and yet it still shines as one of my favorite tracks from Nixdorux, though it took a while for it to grow on me.
The intro itself doesn't bare much resemblance to the source until the staccato instruments reference to the source's harp at 0:56, though at this point I probably wouldn't care less as Nix's way of bringing in the sweeping instrumentation at the time was a beautiful sight for the community. When the melody came in fully on the flute/english horn parts, it becomes recognisable straight away and with it being mashed with the chord substitution it made for this nice and sinister atmosphere built in. I have to say the build based on the C portion of the melody, starting at 2:55, was by far my favorite part; that really showed one of the greatest sense of dynamics from the mixer that I had witnessed during my time here and managed to add to this building of drama brought all around it.
I also commend you for your excellent percussion writing; it may be minimalist with just the booming bass drums, low piano notes and cymbals, but it had proven affective in being able to work with the atmosphere here and helped provide something somewhat inspirational.
It's a shame the brass couldn't quite be as expressive as it could, though considering back then it was harder to get it realised than most other instruments, something like that can be excused. And for what it was, it all turned out to be a very pretty arrangement overall.
Nonetheless, with tracks like this that stand the test of time easily, I have been hoping to see you resurface in due time, and really add some strength to the ever-present French mixing community. Please come back soon Nixdorux; I miss your orchestration skills D:
Level 99
on 2009-12-23 14:46:49
I must give this my stamp of approval. I don't have anything negative to say at all. The various iterations of the theme being repeated never once lost my interest. Bravo.
Bahamut
on 2009-11-08 06:51:39
I do agree with some of the previous comments in that this mix does what it sets out to do well. Unfortunately, most people who visit the site don't seem terribly interested in it if it doesn't catch their ears with a nice hook, and perhaps I'm guilty of it some as well. This isn't the type of song that one might listen to over and over on repeat, but it nails much of what it is about, so I don't really have much beef here.
Marmiduke
on 2009-01-16 22:52:20
I loooooove buildup mixes, even if they don't amount to brain-combusting climaxes. There's such an art to great buildups; they are very idiosychratic in the way they sound, and it really sounds like the mixer knew exactly what he wanted and how to achieve it. I hear a channeling of Basil Poledouris, which is such an awesome body of work to be aspiring to, or as may be the case, accidentally sounding similar to.
Many props for a very fine orchestral piece. Loved it.
DragonAvenger
on 2008-11-09 22:23:27
This is a great film score track. I don't know the source well, so listening as is I can picture lots of different scenes that would fit this well.
Overall, the track doesn't stand out, but it doesn't intend to, so it's great for what it is. I would like to see more people commenting on this one.
OA
on 2007-06-13 11:51:08
Very well done orchestral work; especially the huge buildup a the beginning. I'm kindof a Wagner guy, so when I heard that buildup, I was going crazy waiting for the mix to EXPLODE, but it never really happened. It did pick up some energy eventually, but it didn't have the effect I was hoping for. It seems that a lot of mixes that aren't super-over-the-top don't get a lot of comments, regardless of quality, and I think this mix is a victim of that as well. Very nice woodwinds usage here, I think it's a great mix.
ph0sphorousgobu
on 2006-12-25 11:53:33
Excellently done, brother!
Allow me to elaborate: I like music. Most of us do. We all like different sorts of music. When you think about hard driving stuff, you typically think a deathmetal band. Not I. I prefer to find my hard driving stuff from classical music. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but still. (Don't believe me? Listen to FF9: Hunter's Etude (Scherzo)). The symphony orchestra is capable of producing such a wide range of emotions. In the case of your mix, it's dark, dramatic, exciting, all the things I like. The harp at the end? I really like that. After such a dramatic climax, the harp sort of carries the piece to a quiet decrescendo.
Nicely done, sir.
A-RoN
on 2006-05-20 14:34:01
meccaneer wrote: I can almost see the movie now. Peter Jackson directing. Viggo Mortenson as Simon Belmont.

:lol: meccaneer, you are a funny man!
Nix, the mix is excellent, this post will be edited for a more detailed review.
meccaneer
on 2005-10-28 19:54:07
I can almost see the movie now. Peter Jackson directing. Viggo Mortenson as Simon Belmont. Nice work, dude; it's on the playlist. My only complaint is the brief chanting about halfway through. Sounds too tribal for CV and doesn't work with the orchestra.
OchreJelly
on 2005-02-09 22:02:13
Umm...wow? I think this is the perfect counterpoint to Nigel Simmons' more upbeat rendition of the same source: Creepy and mysterious, and very delicate feeling too, like DJP said. The subtle harp early on really told me this was going to be a good piece.
Great job on the instrumentation. I do seem to hear some of the EWQLSO articulations in here, if I'm not mistaken? At any rate, you used the samples superbly.
This one has found a place on my playlist. 9/10
ella guro
on 2005-01-18 19:48:51
It's a shame this only has a couple other reviews: it is a really great arrangement. It manages to repeat that same motif over and over again in a variety of ways and styles and make it interesting every time. That build up around 2:30 is great, as is the intense section with the brass at around the 3 minute mark, as is the fadeout, which leaves everything as a mystery (in a good way).
I guess my only complaint would be the mixing of a few things - the cymbals, in particular, sounded really weak. I suppose it could've also been mastered more as well. Still, this is excellent work and I hope more people take notice of it.
RealFolkBlues
on 2005-01-11 01:46:21
Great work on what is a somewhat overlooked piece. Silly Konami for sticking one of their best original pieces in one of the shortest sections of CV4. My only complaint would be a wish for perhaps more Asian instruments such as the koto or shamisen; the Shaolin motif started to really grab a hold about a minute and a half in, but then seemed to trail back into more occidental instrumentation. Nonetheless, very good stuff.
9.5/10
Txai
on 2005-01-08 04:38:14
Well...great work we have here. The Nicolas works are very good. Man, was Nixdorux that made 'Ghost', from Super Mario World. Nice orchestra! Good arrangement with flute, harp piano... excellent orchestral beats! Nice Work Mister Nix. My ears are thankful! Two thumbs up!
djpretzel
on 2005-01-08 01:01:23
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