ReMix: Sonic & Knuckles 'Lava Reach'

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Sonic & Knuckles

Who's this bloke? Some guy from down under who's been relatively scarce in the last several hundred days writes:

"Hello DJP and OCR! This is Jivemaster. It's been 2 years! That's a long time to be away...

This is a remake of an unreleased mix I did back in 2001 that I wasn't overly happy with. I always wanted to do more with the song, but at the time ideas were scarce. Times went on and it was forgotten.

Anywho, I was rummaging through the depths of my unfinished remix archive and saw this in all its poorly recorded glory. Since I've been absent from OCR for the last 2 years, and my last Sonic mix was back in 2002 (shame on me!), I thought it was about time to release something again for all the people who have enjoyed my stuff in the past and for those new to OCR who may be saying "Jivemaster? Who's this Jivemaster fellow?!?". The people at OCR have been spoiled rotten with some fab Sonic stuff as of late, I hope they enjoy this too."

Sadly, as a new face from the past reemerges, we say farewell to one who's been with us for quite some time. Judge Israfel, aka Michael Dover, after leaving once and then graciously returning when his time freed up, is again stepping down, this time probably for good. Sucks to see him go, especially so close to fellow veteran of paneldom Malcos, and everything I said for Stephen holds true yet again - Mike's been an invaluable addition to the panel, in particular when music theory and more technical aspects of composition were under discussion, has similarly been a calm + collected voice of reason during more incendiary discourse, and just plain brought a LOT to the table. His music's been a personal inspiration to me to play around more with ethnic instruments and peculiar juxtapositions, and his approach to evaluating mixes always favored innovation and creativity. There's no denying that with both Malcos and now Mike as well gone, the panel has a different flavor to it, but newcomers Harmony and Shnabubula appear to be carrying the torch very admirably thus far. Nevertheless, a humongous thanks to Mike for his musical and critical contributions to this site, which have incalculably improved our standards and vastly widened our horizons.

Hopefully, as Jivemaster has managed to rectify with this mix, Israfel won't disappear for too long without showing up again in some form or another. Here, Joel Bird (one of the best "real names that sound like they could be fairly groovy mixer names, too" out there) gives us a remake of a remake, going back and retooling a previous Sonic and Knuckles mix into something he could palate submitting. The mix was actually close to being approved by the panel when he again went back and based on feedback made some last-minute changes, and the result is something that resembles his old style with a newer sheen and some edgier stuff (3'02") that reminds me a bit of Beatdrop. Jive responded to misgivings about the ending and some production stuffs, but even before that, Jesse offered:

"The instruments do sound a bit cliched. i've heard them all before. with that in mind, i also feel like there were great textures and instrumentations. I wasn't a huge fan of all the leads, but overall the dynamics and the arrangement are well-planned and gripping. There's plenty going on but it never gets too crowded."

With zyko adding:

"the breakdown around the 4 minute mark and on is very key. could have possibly saved the track for me and kept my attention from dwelling on the production."

There are some cliches, and I'd say an overuse of filter-sweep envelopes, but it wouldn't be Jive without filter-swept synthtronica actionz, things remain interesting for a good majority of the six-minute-plus playing time, and there's actually some bits that aren't as standard JM, including guitar-shreddage circa 2'01", more aggressive, distorted synth at 3'01", and the more elaborate layering of mixed drum kits w/ alternate processing. All in all, it's a fairly logical evolution, not revolution, of JM's sound, and packs a good deal of varied electronica into a near seven-minute wingspan. So here's to hearing more from Jivemaster, and Malcos, and Israfel, too, while I'm at it, and enjoying Joel's latest piece.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Black_Doom
on 2013-05-30 08:04:33
Great ReMix! Probably, one of my favorites. Love the synths, love the percussion, but especially I love the guitar. And, of course, the breakdown 3:48 is just wonderful!
Crulex
on 2011-07-04 19:39:43
"Now, it is time." Freakin' love that sample right there. I think it really fits the zone well and I fancy the way you paced this ReMix out, from the building beginning to the breakdown. The guitars worked so well in this one and it seems to give the mix a boost without being frantic. I can't hear anything that would make me dislike the mix, as even the breakdown keeps the beat going. Love it.
OA
on 2010-03-10 15:04:02
Pretty good stuff, with a lot of variation to keep the track interesting through the long duration. I liked the synths and percussion, and the theme itself is a classic.
Level 99
on 2010-02-17 14:50:53
o_o I love those drums. While not the most refined mix I've ever heard, this is really fun and moving. It does feel a little long with the song's length, but this is a great take on the source with a good amount of production quality and rhythms that really make me want to go running in a late 80's montage-style. Guitars were a nice choice, but that section where you introduced them sounded just a tad awkward with the way you had the drums going. Overall, still quite good.
Edit: there's a section in the middle that really reminds me of a Real McCoy song. Can't place my finger on it, though. Just a funny imagining, because their songs are a guilty pleasure of mine.
42
on 2008-12-15 23:31:47
It's kind of strange to here a tune that's been treated relatively light hearted in other remixes to now be so techno and Mortal Kombat-esque, especially with the "Now, it is time." sample.
This is still a cool remix though. It's definitely hardcore, techno, climatic, and dire. It has this air of finality throughout the mix; it's like the background anthem for the final fight of two lifelong rivals where they know that one isn't going to survive. if that makes sense >.>
Arwen
on 2007-12-06 11:23:20
Holy cow...I love this mix. Lava Reef was one of my favorite zones because of the music. This remix captures the mystery, the chaos, and the danger of the zone. I know there are some others who didn't like it, but as someone who was nuts about Sonic, I am really happy to have it. It's true to the original feel of the game and it brings back some very happy moments from my early teen years.
Bummer
on 2006-05-12 09:14:47
Man, these Sonic remixes is just getting better and better. I'm one of the persons that never heard of Jivemaster, but after a remix like this I'll probably never forget him.
The Lava Reef Zone was a cool place in the game, annoying at some times when you suddenly lost your 4500 rings you'd collected, but I guess that's life. This arrangement reflected the style of that place very good, all the samples that's being used sounds very good together, and there are hardly no low quality samples nor annoying instruments.
This remix has sky rocketed up to my top five list, although this is the first time I'm listening to Jivemaster's pieces. It's just great.
Sorry to hear that Israfel has stepped down, he could make some impressive orchestral remixes. I must start reading pretzel's comments on the new remixes, it's kind of embarrassing to get to know matters like this a couple of months after they've happened.
Ageha
on 2006-03-26 04:05:17
Burnt and in my car. :) Best remix I have heard of this song to date.
When the grinding buildup comes in around 3:00 I just die. I usually rewind and play this part over again in my car every minute because I'm a sucker for it.
Hot in both respects, that's all I've gotta say.
Drack
on 2005-10-16 22:01:48
Drack canned response: Don't mess with the chord progressions when the original sounds great! (Cadence point at 1:55-2:00).
This mix is great. I liked the development and arrangement. I didn't like the voice samples and some of the panning effects, but the arrangement more than makes up for it. Very full sound, and the effort shows. I didn't like how the bass synth kinda petered out before the transition to the 4:00 section. Most of your panning FX worked well, but some didn't (first half, like the voice samples). I like the way you used reverb. EXCELLENT transition into Hidden Palace at 5:00. I don't like the "bow" synth you used for the lead here, but the background instrument is perfect, it could come out some. Nice work :nicework:
Playlisted!
Dr. Wily
on 2005-10-16 21:10:22
Great mix, love it. This is one of those tracks that really does get better with age just as Neomega said.. normally I don't go for this electronica genre but this is absolutely the best of its kind I've heard on OCR! It's repetitive without getting old and has a nice steady buildup to some really cool synth at 3:30-40ish, the true climax of the piece. Everything before 3:50 is gold.. it does peter out a somewhat after that but still rolls along nicely. Indeed, he is the Jive Master.. some great home-grown talent, hopefully next time not so long between drinks!
NeOmega
on 2005-10-07 17:27:07
I have had this one on my playlist since it came out.
Like a fine wine, it just gets better and better with age. It seems to have broken so many music rules, and still came up smelling like roses.
...and that smooth ending is just fantastic, a perfect climax.
DistantJ
on 2005-08-14 09:29:01
So, the return of Jivemaster. The guy's done some REALLY enjoyable stuff which has appeared on here in the past.
My views on this might be seen as a little controversial, perhaps even as herecy, but especially in comparison to Jivemaster's older submissions, I think this mp3 is going to have to go into my freezer to stop the large amount of cheese contained within from going bad and stinking out the place.
Jivemaster uses quite well designed sounds, most of which sounding quite traditional, like something played with a minimoog, which is always a good thing, if you ask me. The filtering effects (mostly envelopes, so that the filter changes with each note as opposed to globally around the song or sequence) are rather predictable, though, and almost seem crude and unnecessary - everything seems to make, forgive me for the onomatopoeia, a "wow" or "bau" sound. The synths do have personality, though, and are easily distinguishable from one another.
We are smashed across the head with some really nice, powerful percussion, but this has a bit of a stink of cheese in it, too, it almost seems a little too overdone, especially with the same chord pattern and background music follwing it through most of the song. Some REALLY nice drum sequence programming though, just perhaps the percussive sounds chosen/created are a little too O.T.T.
Then, to my surprise, an electric guitar comes into the mix, thus maxxing out the cheese-factor. Next stop: videogame angst central. Something feels missing here, too. It gives me the feeling that this was intended to feel really heavy, but instead feels quite draggy and seems to try too hard and fails to achieve it's intention.
A pretty nice transition into the Act-2 theme. This section of the song is far better, in my opinion. We get treated to a very nice, relaxed melody with minimalistic, but still complex drum sequences, which, rather than trying to spank you around the head until you think it's cool, actually lies nicely underneath the music creating an atmoshpere and rythm for the section, and nicely filtered and equalized synth voices along with a few harp-like sounds and a lovely bassline, giving us more of a chilled, Jean Michel Jarre-esque tone. This section, to me, is the song's redeeming quality.
So all in all, an average song, the first half I found myself particularly unimpressed with, but transitioning into a very pleasant second half. I find myself thinking if he second half was extended and more was tried with it, and the first half cut off, I'd be speaking very highly of it in this review.
(...Nothing personal, Jivemaster!)
Nobbynob Littlun
on 2005-08-11 19:22:31
I agree, this sounds like something you might hear on Sonic Adventure's (stellar) soundtrack, even though I don't much care for it myself. I will say that the "Now, it is time." is plain awesome. Thinking back to the Battery song, putting in those little phrases is one of your strongest points Jivemaster.
"Now, it is time."
GammaUnit01
on 2005-07-30 18:47:14
Reminds me of something you'd hear in Sonic Adventure
BlueMage
on 2005-07-18 19:23:52
Awesome track, and from a fellow Brisbanite too! Lava Reef and Hidden Palace are two great tracks to work with.
I would say this is old-sk00l Jivemaster stuff, but simply put, it's better than that. Much, much better.
If you run any live gigs man, I may just be tempted to check them out.