ReMix: Xenogears "Chasing the Phoenix" 5:46

By GrayLightning

Artist Links
Arranging the music of one song...

"Awakening"

Primary Game: Xenogears (Square, 1998, PS1), music by Yasunori Mitsuda

Posted 2005-04-19, evaluated by djpretzel


He of off-white electricity from on high presents his twentieth ReMix, the big two-o, which also happens to be the third and perhaps (?) final mix in his "phoenix series," this time from Mitsuda's beloved Xenogears OST. Before I get much further, I should mention that due to extended communications problems (as in lack thereof), Binnie aka Digital Coma is no longer on our judges panel. We're not looking to fill the slot immediately, but I thought it was worth mentioning because, especially earlier on during the many months he served as a judge, he was very productive and instrumental in coordinating (instigating?) voting, which was and is appreciated. As the first non-ReMixer or "listener" judge, he established with his earlier and prolific voting pattern that you didn't have to make mixes to know what to look for, and also assisted with standards revisions and the OCR4 redesign - credit where credit is due. Right then... of his newest mix, Gray states that he infused his usual new age/orchestral style with Chinese and Japanese elements, and specifically spent a good deal of time on the rolling stringed instrument (near koto family) he employs early on. This elaborate concoction is truly one of Gray's finest to date, sonically and compositionally - it segues artfully from motif to motif as gorgeous afforementioned rolling articulations are complemented by solo female vox and finally a full choir. Gray hand-sequences things instead of playing them, which is actually the way many mixers I've spoken with do things - I've never been able to understand how they can do it, as I play all my stuff live, at-tempo, and just layer it, but usually when I speak with them they can't imagine doing things the way I do. Clearly radically different methodologies can result in equally worthwhile results, and there's no detectable loss of humanism from the non-realtime process in this mix, that's for sure. There's a mixture of orchestral bombast, kabuki intrigue, stark Japanese imagery, Elfmanish lullabye, and action hero brass/string stab going on - really something for everyone, from the accelerating chromaticism of the intro to the resonating bell tone of the appropriate conclusion. This is compelling, daring stuff - moreso than some of Gray's other work, which hasn't ever rested on its laurels, so the relativism only says more. Gray spent a good deal of time on this, and unlike my own process, which tends to yield better results when rushed and achieved within a smaller amount of time, the extra time spent here shows. I can't fathom inputting some of the articulations here, but they sure do sound purdy, and more importantly, they work. If there's any downside to the mix, it's that no orchestral brass samples I've yet heard are truly up to the task of playing some of the faster, more exposed passages Gray's asking for here, but this is a limitation that I'm not convinced could be overcome either technologically or compositionally. There's at least a half-dozen transitions here, a couple right in the first minute, that I simply love, and the tempo track is a living animal which livies and breathes with the music. Gray's managed to merge the best aspects of his more structured mixes with his free-form arrangement approach that favors significant transitions every half-minute or so with this piece, which is one of my favorite from him. Not to be missed.

djpretzel

Discussion

Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
avatar
OA
on 2010-01-22 18:24:03

Some really nice samples on this one, and though the structure was a bit unorthodox, I was feeling the treatment of the source. Things were pretty sparse for the most part, but it really played out like a constantly evolving movie score, and the super varied instrumentation was really cool. Very nice stuff. :-)

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avaris
on 2009-12-04 11:12:00

A very interesting take on the Awakening source tune. Tends to focus more on cinematic elements than the melody. Given the context of the song within the game this is a pretty cool arrangement decision. Def loving the asian influences within the song.

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evktalo
on 2008-12-10 06:15:45

A very interesting and enjoyable mix. It's probably my favourite from GrayLightning. Overall mood, the percussion and the koto are hilights for me.

--Eino

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Freemind
on 2005-05-04 20:01:38

It is very interesting that Gray looks for new sounds and production routes. I have to admit that this theme is too "difficult" for a new age listener, but from the other hand is very progressive for the new age genre...Sometimes the fans of an artist, as Gray, cannot see the try that he does to be free of the new age style and follow a new way..It is something that will help anyone to mature and find his sound, and Gray is too young and too talented to find so soon his "sound".

I like this remix for the unique sound it has. Not for the harmony, but for the imagination that Gray has on the orchestra, and the way that he uses the instruments and the percussions..Believe me, is not so easy to create a free style of music..

( sorry for my bad english )

I am waiting for the next remix and ofcourse I want sometime to take a taste of your originals Gray :wink:

avatar
GrayLightning
on 2005-05-02 18:15:06

I appreciate and welcome the criticism, and as another long time mixer in this scene I respect Jared's opinions - when he's actually seemingly trying to help. What I don't welcome is the condescension. I felt the comments were bordering on nonconstructive or offensive in tone, which is somoething you've demonstrated in other reviews or threads at OCR.

Now as far as the criticism itself, there is merit to it. Harmonizing and orchestration is something, not only I, but Jared himself, and almost everyone else in our community can get better at.

The math formula is grossly unfair and over-generalized though. I do agree that my newer stuff is percussive oriented. But to belittle it in such a way is counterproductive, if it is indeed an intention to "help" me. I also have other mixes with either no percussion, hardly any at all and even those without focus on the melody.

There are indeed sparser sections, like the transitional sections where I did want to focus on other elements as central points. But to say there's no harmonization at all other than bass and melody is stretching it. The koto like instrument is playing harmony throughout the meat of the mix and was a challenge to sequence.

Secondarily, I'm not trying to make mozart, chopin, holst, etc. music (great as they are, that is not my primary interest). I have a lot of influences, that includes native american and far eastern music. Both of which have different rules. For example a Native American piece might only consist of vocal chants, a flute melodic line and percussion. Some Asian derived music might only consist of a flute and some chromatic temple bells. Not everyone's cup of tea music that's for sure. As far as my own submissions I try to put enough elements in my mixes where it would be a feasible OCR submission per the guidelines (of which I am well versed in). Don't expect anything atonal + only bird chirps from me anytime soon. :wink: I don't however make mixes for others sake more than my own.

If you didn't like the mix, that's fine. I respect your opinion and your freedom to express it.

I agree that harsh criticism can be helpful to grow as a musician. We all need some form and fair measure of it. I have no problems with that, and I'm sure it is comments like Jared's that may be beneficial; but the tone and delivery diminishes the point.

If Jared has any issues or wants to carry on this discussion or give helpful advice then I'm genuinely interested in continuing this in PM.

He's said his piece and now I've said mine. Let's move on shall we?

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SirRus
on 2005-05-02 16:11:49
it is reviews like this from people I've respected that have helped me most. 20 songs is a lot, but remember it is quality that matters, not quantity.
but no matter how good the intention it is somewhat lacking in the "politeness" factor to rip apart one's collective works, methods, and skills in front of the entire community. I always appreciate it when one musician does his best to help another, and Gray might welcome that help with open arms. He may have needed to hear that, but there are more courteous methods in which to communicate the message

I'm completely with Soraya on this one. I'm sure Jared has noticed improvement in the quality of Gray's music since 20 songs ago, or at least has something nice to say in that regard.

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Origami
on 2005-04-28 20:26:36
I'm not trying to be a dick

You fooled me then. I am a visitor to OCR for over one year and half and when I see loutish actions like these it makes me shy away from participating or sharing my own music at OCR.

Well, looks like music isn't for you then. People need to stop expecting opinions like "OMG U R L33T".

"OMG U R L33T" is an exaggeration. You may have been trying to help Gray or he may have asked for your help but the way I read you it read like you were being a boor.

I'm with Jared on this one. It's hard to get real critiques on your work. Everyone is too kind, doesn't actually know anything, etc. Hell, I'm guilty of it.

Go look in the WIP section. People really want honest reviews to help them get better, but everyone says "Good work" or "Keep going", as if the remixer knew what he was doing perfectly. The songs are not going to get any better until someone stands up and says what is wrong with them (at least anytime soon).

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kaiserramsus
on 2005-04-28 14:18:50
I'm not trying to be a dick

You fooled me then. I am a visitor to OCR for over one year and half and when I see loutish actions like these it makes me shy away from participating or sharing my own music at OCR.

Well, looks like music isn't for you then. People need to stop expecting opinions like "OMG U R L33T".

"OMG U R L33T" is an exaggeration. You may have been trying to help Gray or he may have asked for your help but the way I read you it read like you were being a boor.

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Jared Hudson
on 2005-04-28 13:42:56
I'm not trying to be a dick

You fooled me then. I am a visitor to OCR for over one year and half and when I see loutish actions like these it makes me shy away from participating or sharing my own music at OCR.

Well, looks like music isn't for you then. People need to stop expecting opinions like "OMG U R L33T".

avatar
kaiserramsus
on 2005-04-28 13:26:47
I'm not trying to be a dick

You fooled me then. I am a visitor to OCR for over one year and half and when I see loutish actions like these it makes me shy away from participating or sharing my own music at OCR.

avatar
Dahlia
on 2005-04-27 02:15:04
Melody + Bass + Percussion + FX = Gray

Everyone has a style, and a voice, but I have reviewed many Gray pieces in the past telling him what he NEEDS to do. This isn't a preference of Jared, but a complete upgrade of what your music CAN be. As I will state again, there is hardly any harmonization in here, and a poor job of orchestration. I've never heard so many random instruments come out of nowhere, and the use of instrument effects were poorly executed not only in proper implementation, but mixing as well.

When I heard this piece, I soley thought that high quality samples were the only drive. It has lots of hits, lots of percussion, and a melody line. Yet, this piece doesn't use hardly ANY form, and parts are just plugged in because they can be (SAM Brass FX Swells, VOTA screams). There is no counterpoint or harmonizing at all, other than the bass and melody. Instrument choice also seemed poor, because I felt the random insertion of the authentic instruments didn't fit, and became stale as the piece progressed.

Gray needs to stop using constant fx patches, balance levels of sections better, select an actual form (percussion is way too loud), and bring more actual orchestration into his pieces. I don't care what you may think, but all I heard in this and many other pieces in the past was high quality samples, and nothing else special. I DO try to give every mix an honest chance, but when this ended, I felt empty and had no memorable moments in the song.

Again, I'm not trying to be a dick, but I'm throwing the cold, honest truth. In my experience, it is reviews like this from people I've respected that have helped me most. 20 songs is a lot, but remember it is quality that matters, not quantity.

Jared Hudson

As constructive as your criticism may be, I feel it'd be best served in private discussion with GrayLightning. I know this is the review forum and I believe in telling people the absolute truth about their arts, but no matter how good the intention it is somewhat lacking in the "politeness" factor to rip apart one's collective works, methods, and skills in front of the entire community. I always appreciate it when one musician does his best to help another, and Gray might welcome that help with open arms. He may have needed to hear that, but there are more courteous methods in which to communicate the message.

To make a distinction, it is of course within every reason to pick apart one's work in a public forum, pointing out any number of flaws and potential improvements. After all, the one who submitted their work was prepared to have it endure the utmost scrutiny, especially considering the relatively high-standard environment of OCR. However, when it is your intention to communicate to somebody that their artistry as a whole requires a complete overhaul to be anything of respectable quality, it may not be the best choice to make a public message stating that you feel everything they ever produce is poorly written and is given the illusion of quality only by superficial means.

Please excuse me if my consideration for human relations is too prudish for the cold, dark streets of the review forum. You may very well completely disagree.

avatar
Nineko
on 2005-04-26 19:39:24

Where, where, where does GrayLightning find all those samples? I can raise the volume on my headphones but I cannot hear a click, a noise, a bad note. Everything is perfect here.

Horn section (from 0:52) is so realistic.

Drums and percussions works well.

Background strings from 2:05 are awesome.

The section from 4:10 is even more complete. There are more instruments there than in all other OCR stuff.

I don't know what more to say.

This is a song that should be part of a movie OST and played with a 5.1 sound equipment in a big room.

Evaluation: 29.95/30

avatar
Jared Hudson
on 2005-04-26 19:28:27

So I was browsing around the internet again, and brought up OCR. I decided to listen to a few mixes, also coming across this piece. It is not my intention to "bash" Gray, or completely rip apart his pride, but here's the math equation in a nutshell.

Melody + Bass + Percussion + FX = Gray

Everyone has a style, and a voice, but I have reviewed many Gray pieces in the past telling him what he NEEDS to do. This isn't a preference of Jared, but a complete upgrade of what your music CAN be. As I will state again, there is hardly any harmonization in here, and a poor job of orchestration. I've never heard so many random instruments come out of nowhere, and the use of instrument effects were poorly executed not only in proper implementation, but mixing as well.

When I heard this piece, I soley thought that high quality samples were the only drive. It has lots of hits, lots of percussion, and a melody line. Yet, this piece doesn't use hardly ANY form, and parts are just plugged in because they can be (SAM Brass FX Swells, VOTA screams). There is no counterpoint or harmonizing at all, other than the bass and melody. Instrument choice also seemed poor, because I felt the random insertion of the authentic instruments didn't fit, and became stale as the piece progressed.

Gray needs to stop using constant fx patches, balance levels of sections better, select an actual form (percussion is way too loud), and bring more actual orchestration into his pieces. I don't care what you may think, but all I heard in this and many other pieces in the past was high quality samples, and nothing else special. I DO try to give every mix an honest chance, but when this ended, I felt empty and had no memorable moments in the song.

Again, I'm not trying to be a dick, but I'm throwing the cold, honest truth. In my experience, it is reviews like this from people I've respected that have helped me most. 20 songs is a lot, but remember it is quality that matters, not quantity.

Jared Hudson

avatar
Navi
on 2005-04-25 12:23:58

Been following Gray Lightning's stuff since I first came here. He sent me a WIP of this a while back, and then had to redo much of it when his mixing program crashed. A few days later, he sent me a new version, sounding twice as good. I guess even software malfunctions have their benefits, eh?

Anyways, I really can't point out much wrong with this. The orchestration is impressive, as usual. The samples are beautiful and well manipulated, as usual. The mood is tense, cinematic...as usual.

Props for the "rolling" instruments. I know Gray spent a lot of time working on those, and they sound great. Great stuff, Mr. Alexander. Happy 20, and here's to 20 more.

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Harmony
on 2005-04-23 18:26:43

Until I physically watch you create a remix I'm not going to believe that you don't have an orchestra sitting in your room. :) There are way too many instruments to count here but they all flow together so wonderfully. I don't even know if I can say that there were distinct transitions in this song because by the time you realize that everything has changed you're already sonically enveloped by the new material. The section starting at 3:19 was especially fun! No more Pheonix!? No way man.

Complicated, clean, commanding wonderful.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)


Primary Game:
Xenogears (Square, 1998, PS1)
Music by Yasunori Mitsuda
Songs:
"Awakening"

Tags (2)


Genre:
Mood:
Instrumentation:
Orchestral
Additional:
Regional > World

File Information


Name:
Xenogears_Chasing_the_Phoenix_OC_ReMix.mp3
Size:
5,628,849 bytes
MD5:
6abcf09fd6a55d21c1a8fd278b2d16e8
Bitrate:
128Kbps
Duration:
5:46

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