ReMix: Secret of Mana 'Dragon Song'

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Secret of Mana

I'm going to begin this writeup by mentioning Pillar of Salt a bit, but not because Star's magnum opus and Brandon's latest share all that much in common, musically. They're not in the same genre, or from the same game, or by the same composer, and besides involving original vocals, their respective tones and general composition are altogether different. So, where's the relevancy? Well, the simple fact is, I can't really talk about either of these ReMixes without embarrassing myself in a sad cesspool of my own fanboy adulation. They're fantastic mixes, the type I dreamed would one day be made when I started the site, the type that fill (overfill, really) either side of the arrangement/production ratio, and open doors, and conclusively illustrate the possibilities and art present in what we're doing with unofficial game arrangements. They're legitimizing of the time I've invested working on the site. Now, it's important for me to clarify, so are ALL ReMixes. I'm strongly opposed to the idea of ranking or classifying something as emotional and subjective as music, especially on a song by song basis. I think of the many mixes on this site as a continuum, and NOT a hierarchy, and always will. But even in a continuum, filled with amazing work from a variety of distinct voices, there can be tracks that stand out for one reason or another, to any given listener, as quintessentially possessing certain traits and characteristics that one searches for in art. To make a long story short and avoid further pontification, if you know what I think of Star's Xeno mix, that I feel similarly about Brandon's should be enough to communicate the point. If not, just download both without a hesitant bone in your body, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. Brandon writes:

"Yet another tribute to my favorite game, Secret of Mana, this time incorporating both the final Flammie flight theme and a bit from the Kakkara desert theme. Sorya mentioned in the ReMixing forum that remixing music from Secret of Mana is like “taking a little trip back in time.” So true indeed. This mix takes me to the skies above the world as the story climaxes: the lost continent has risen, the Mana Beast is on his way, you’ve gone through so much yet so much is left to do. Ahh, memories.

Thanks to all of the people in the WIP forum who commented on this mix in its infancy, especially Monobrow who provided a simple suggestion that really inspired me to continue.

Hope everyone enjoys!

~This mix is brought to you by:

Cakewalk SONAR 2, FL Studio 5, Casio CTK-551 (used only as a midi controller), Fender acoustic guitar (my new toy), and my sexy man voice"

Actually, this mix doesn't so much rekindle memories of SoM as it does reinvent the entire world before my eyes, vaster in scope and reach, an infinite expanse of land, water, and air. "Transporting" doesn't do it justice - if for some reason you couldn't get away this year, couldn't travel anywhere, see anything new, get away from school, or work, or your life, in one of the traditional ways... this is more than a substitute vacation, more than a consolation prize. Some people view the label of "escapism" as a criticism when it comes to any art form, including music, but when paired with technique and vision, for something this imaginative and flowing, I just can't see it being so. Brandon can sing, play guitar, and arrange exquisitely, and all three of his skills are utilized here to the fullest extent we've yet seen them. Again, as with Salt, when everything comes together and someone's full faculties are applied to a mix that was clearly meant for them, the results are honestly downright scary, on some level. I'm not going to bother with a play-by-play, in this instance, as I'd just prefer everyone listen to this a dozen times in a row like I have, at which point telling you what happens is moot. It's 5/4, which is worth mentioning as the meter is handled so smoothly, you may not even notice. There's acoustic guitar, piano, shuffling drums and latin percussion, simultaneously interesting + supportive bass, a calliope/pan flute lead, a variety of synths that integrate seamlessly with the more acoustic overall vibe, and - oh yeah - an impressive instrument in its own right, Brandon's voice. There's a mixture of lyrics, vocalizing, and background vocal parts, and he's on all of them, and he sounds great. As good as all of Salzman's previous mixes were, I didn't know he had Salt in him until I heard it; the same applies here. Elevating, meticulous, innovative, and representative of what still makes running this site so damn fun: you just never know what you're gonna hear next.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Unununium
on 2014-03-15 13:31:41
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7854864/Xenotones-DragonSong.mp3
Everyone must give this version a listen. :nicework: times a bajillion and one!
Arrow
on 2014-02-24 08:10:36
Actually I believe he'd heard it before that; 4 years ago was when he met Harmony at Otakon and gushed to him in person over how awesome this mix is.
badhabit
on 2014-02-24 04:17:01
It must be an honor to have made such an impression on Kikuta-san. He did an AMA on Reddit, and had this to say when asked if he had heard any fan remixes of his compositions:
Of course I have heard many of these arrangements having also met people from OC Remix in the past. I've also heard some of this music when I came to MAGFest years ago. I think it's impressive what people have made with my music. No matter what is made, the thing that makes me happiest is how it shows how much fans love my music. As for a particular arrange I like, I really enjoyed the remix of Dragon Song by Harmony (http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR01404/) who I believe I did meet at Otakon many years ago.

20 years since the game was released, 8 years since this song was made, and 4 years since he heard it, and he still goes right to this song. Pretty awesome.
http://www.reddit.com/r/gamemusic/comments/1yr673/ama_im_hiroki_kikuta_the_composer_for_the_secret/cfn2u68
melody
on 2011-01-25 12:22:54
joe_cam;68624 wrote: I've seen better songs

well i've eaten better songs
MechaFone
on 2010-12-04 12:58:49
I need to stop picking and choosing what I listen to off the front page, because I missed this gem somehow.
Fantastic, soothing and highly enjoyable, excellent remix!
Monobrow
on 2010-08-03 07:56:26
Congratulations on the Kikuta props!
And yeah I still like this song a lot! :D
Cyril the Wolf
on 2010-08-02 11:34:22
Oh yea, I don't know if I mentioned this ever, but this song is what got me to do Absolution Comes in Dreams.
The whole idea of acoustic guitars and vox, though granted the vox in this are more just extra flavor than the lead of the song.
Still, fantastic guitar work, and it just makes me all happy inside, its so mystical. :D
Hiroki Kikuta. ROX.
Geoffrey Taucer
on 2010-08-02 10:56:42
I want to see the kikuta interview
Velocifero
on 2010-08-02 10:23:06
Definitely one of favorite remixes.
big giant circles
on 2010-08-02 02:24:59
Liontamer;702437 wrote: I remember all the thread-fighting like, "It was good, but it wasn't THAT good". Except it's Hiroki Kikuta's favorite Secret of Mana OC ReMix. He told djp and I first, then when Harmony showed up 10 minutes later, he sang some of the guitar parts and told him the track was "fantastic."
http://twitter.com/Hiroki_Kikuta/status/20039622078
Winner winner, chicken dinner!

And well-deserved!
Liontamer
on 2010-08-02 02:01:54
I remember all the thread-fighting like, "It was good, but it wasn't THAT good". Except it's Hiroki Kikuta's favorite Secret of Mana OC ReMix. He told djp and I first, then when Harmony showed up 10 minutes later, he sang some of the guitar parts and told him the track was "fantastic."
http://twitter.com/Hiroki_Kikuta/status/20039622078
@Hiroki_Kikuta OC-REMIXの連中はほんとに気持ちが良い。ピュアにゲーム音楽が好きなんだということが伝わってくる。「予感」のリミックスアレンジ曲で有名な「dragon song」というのを作ったHarmonyにも会えた。みんな素敵なヤツだった。

Winner winner, chicken dinner!
42
on 2009-12-30 22:08:17
Emunator;622005 wrote: Yeah, I don't think I'd feel right trying to critique this.

I know how you feel. It just don't feel right to comment on this (and on a few others here, imo).
This is one beautiful, nostalgia filled, transcendental trip. Vocals are simply, sheer amazing. This whole mix feels like some very comfortable, very familiar bed. It's like comfort food for the soul. The jazzy atmosphere is also very awesome.
Dragon Song is a mix that absolutely should belong in everyone's playlist.
Emunator
on 2009-12-11 20:28:36
Yeah, I don't think I'd feel right trying to critique this. This single mix has pretty much solidified you in the annals of OCR history, it's that amazing. It's one of the only vocal mixes I can actually use to zone out and fall asleep to, or as study music, because it's so cohesive and mellow. I love natural, organic songs like this more than just about anything else and you took that style and ran like crazy with it! :-D
Theophany
on 2009-12-11 20:14:18
This is one amazing remix. Everything impressed me in this one. It constantly amazes me at how much good content OCR has, and how many great remixers.
I'm getting nostalgic here. I'd better stop.
ella guro
on 2009-12-07 21:11:50
This review thread is maybe more epic than the mix itself.
This is great, though. I've listened many times. The way it starts is probably the best part. When the intro builds and he says "HA!" and the drums and guitar just come in, the mix has a maximum level of potential energy behind it. It's like a rollercoaster ride where the intro leads you up to the highest point of the coaster, and then when everything comes in when you fall. I was like "THIS IS GUNNA BE FUCKIN' EPIC" when I heard that.
Well, it isn't quite that epic. Not like multi-part prog rock epic. It's more of one groove that varies a lot. It's still a very good mix, don't get me wrong, just not as mind expanding as one would lead you to believe. It's more floating and breezy and less of an opus, if you catch my drift. But still really great stuff and it deserves the praise it's gotten.