ReMix: Secret of Mana 'NightTime Evolution'

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Secret of Mana

Newcomer Harmony (in real life, mild-mannered Brandon Bush) sends in a Secret of Mana ReMix with plenty of it. The ReMixer writes:

"Piano and guitar always do it for me and this mix has plenty to spare (with a piano sample that I love). I like knowing what equipment people are using so…this song was recorded with:

- a Casio CTK-551 (the kind with the keys that light up…my Motif is still at the store)
- Cakewalk Sonar 2, Fruity Loops 3, Cool Edit 2000 Pro
- My trusty acoustic guitar"

Even sans Motif, Brandon's put together a slick mix, with lots of interesting processing decisions and hybrid breakbeat/orchestral/acoustic style that well suits Kikuta's undulating patterns. Right out of the gate, spacious, high-quality bells are set against a warm acoustic on the underlying, trademark Kikuta triplet pattern; with repeating patterns, especially, it's important that the instrumentation be dynamic, otherwise something reiterated so often, even as an accompaniment, can lose its lustre post-haste. Brandon avoids that pitfall here with the aforementioned "trusty" acoustic guitar, which amply proves said trust is not misplaced. Rolling, syncopated break snares and hats dance over a kick that very selectively adds low-end to the percussion line. The award for coolest single effect in the mix goes to the uber-slick filtered choo-choo-choo-choo-chooooooo at 1'35" - 's wonderful, 's marvelous, etc. Piano, flute, a solo cello, and a warm bassline that keeps things moving round out the arrangement. The cello is the one element that does get a bit exposed, cutting early at the very conclusion with audible looping and pitch-bending beforehand in a cool arrangement decision that nevertheless made the sample a bit more vulnerable. That's a nitpick, and the world is certainly populated with far lesser cello samples, but when things are sonically solid overall I'm left with only smaller line items to point out. Larry echoed these smaller and larger sentiments:

"The ending tapered off fairly well, although that last low string hanging until 3:09 didn't sound good. Even going for a delicate approach where things slow down and various instruments drop out as the piece winds down, the ending should have possessed a more satisfying resolution. Overall though, very nice work and a pleasure to listen to, Brandon. Good work creating some dry yet purposeful and satisfying percussion work, a relaxing atmosphere, and some well-executed arrangement ideas."

Last impressions are important, but moreso I think in novels and films than in songs; regardless, a slightly underwhelming ending can't nix three plus minutes of good mixin', which Harmony provides with his Darwinian take on the moonlit hours. Slick stuff, mellow but with motion, and some individual details that are memorable and which while brief add vital expression make this mix an excellent first sub from a promising mixer who'll hopefully get his Motif from the store in one piece and submit more like it.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
WesternZypher
on 2010-10-27 13:00:37
I really do think plants would grow to this if you played it for them at night :)
I love how this makes me feel both calm, relaxed, and alert.
Emunator
on 2009-12-02 17:32:21
Wow, I didn't know this was his debut mix. Even here you can see strokes of sheer talent and brilliance in the layered musical elements, and frankly it's kind of nice to have at least one instrumental Harmony mix for study music, since his stuff is always mellow enough for the task but I find myself too distracted by the wonderful vocals to get any real work done :-P
This is one helluva great start, but even that excellence is out-shined when compared to some of the gems that Harmony would throw our way later :-) In short, this man can do no wrong :-P
OA
on 2009-12-02 15:14:42
There's great layered percussion texture here, combined with the organic acoustic guitar and the bells and subtle synths, it make sfor a really good listen. I love how the Secret of Mana music all tends to sound sortof mysterious, and this envisioning of the source track certainly fits that mood, with some really sophisticated patterns, and interesting melodic phrasing throughout. Really solid soundscape on this one, and for a first sub, it shows a ton of polish. Awesome work, Harmony; this is an incredibly good mix.
DragonAvenger
on 2008-08-20 21:38:10
This is Brandon's first ReMix? Definately a good start. I can hear his style throughout. Very slick, and a great choice of instruments. Percussion fits very well, I like the dryness of them, as well as the variation Harmony adds to keep them fresh. Guitar work is smooth, very nice.
I never noticed the ending until I read the write up and reviews. I agree now that it is a bit ubrupt and the cello doesn't end all to well, but overall it doesn't detract from the mix as a whole. Great job.
Liontamer
on 2008-01-07 00:06:32
Harmony;362984 wrote: Hmm, surprisingly, I haven't thanked everyone yet...what kind of jerk am I !?
Hoping that it's never too late, I'd like to throw a hearty Thank You out there to everyone who's taken the time to comment on or listen to NightTime Evolution. Hopefully you all will continue to enjoy for a long time to come :)

Shit, I never commented on this!
One of my favorite memories of my VG Frequency radio show was actually not on the show, but getting dropped off by The Lady at WMRE one night and playing this song for her while we drove down. The fact that it was nighttime wasn't any sort of cosmic coincidence, but that was welcome too. Paige enjoyed it, one of the few tracks around OCR that she outright was feeling as she learned more directly about my hobby in VGM. This was one of the first tracks that really illustrated to her how something seemingly inaccessible like VGM could be interpreted and made to speak to others who weren't fans in the first place. Brandon debut mix always has a special place in my history here, as I had no idea who he was, and wouldn't truly realize just what kind of talent OCR had landed until his follow-up mix, "Live at the Springyard." Excellent stuff.
Harmony
on 2008-01-06 17:29:58
Hmm, surprisingly, I haven't thanked everyone yet...what kind of jerk am I !?
Hoping that it's never too late, I'd like to throw a hearty Thank You out there to everyone who's taken the time to comment on or listen to NightTime Evolution. Hopefully you all will continue to enjoy for a long time to come :)
Broken
on 2008-01-06 01:23:10
Hmm, suprisingly, I haven't commented on this one yet.
This is a great showcase of Harmony's amazing flow. I love the percussion in this piece and how it livens up the very mellow melody.
Whatever you call the echoes (reverb?) create an excellent ambiance for this piece.
windkirby
on 2007-08-22 16:17:44
At first listen, I felt that the song was, while charmingly magical, a bit unsubstantial, having exciting layering at the beginning only to end on a more quiet note. However, now that I listen to it again, I'm quite satisfied with the beauty of how it ends, and I don't feel that it's too repetitive as I used to. It's an enchanting remix, and I applaud your work.
Bummer
on 2006-04-14 13:08:31
I have had this remix in my collection some time now, and have also listened to it many times. It's only natural that you grow tired of a song if you listen to much to it, but when I'm listening to it now, I realize how good it really is. The guitar is well played, same goes for the piano(or was that a sample? :? ). Anyways, it still makes me impressed, I think I'm ready to listen to this beautiful arrangement once again.
Good stuff Harmony.
SirRus
on 2006-01-09 21:03:10
that pitchbending trick on the cello at the end is pretty slick sir
Mini Mog
on 2006-01-08 23:08:01
This is GORGEOUS!!! ^_^ I love it!! The piano work is great and the little wind down around 1:39 is a nice touch. I also like the little trick with the beat at 1:50 as well!
The acoustic guitar is so soothing...:D
You've done great work here!!! I feel like I could just go jump into a game and wander around in a forest or something, heh! :wink:
Durinthal
on 2005-10-04 01:27:06
I initially had difficulty pinning what song this was based off of, though when I did find what it was I abruptly realized that this is an example of a great remix. I could suddenly hear where the original piece from the game was interwoven with the rest of the remix - it was neither a direct copy nor straying too far. Excellent work, in all.
Kaede_X
on 2005-09-25 05:39:38
Great for just keeping on loop when you're trying to relax.
watkinzez
on 2005-09-19 02:30:44
It has a certain "dreamy" quality to it. Indeed, the acoustic guitar is impressive right from the word go. Harmony has certainly proved his worth since this song (and it was only 5 months ago!), and this was and is a great start. Mellow is definitely an appropriate term.
Jillian Aversa
on 2005-08-25 16:50:15
Somehow I missed this one before... Beautiful work! Crisp, mellow, haunting- this is one of those tracks that puts me in a pensive mood, and I really like it. ^_^