I love the Marble Zone theme; it inspired one of my better (if not my best) ReMixes, Love Hurts, as well as an excellent, more recent rendition from Joshua Morse, and just feels very complete, original, and memorable to me as a self-contained piece of game music. It's one of those pieces that I'd tend to hold up as solid, irrefutable evidence that there's plenty of creative and conspicuous compositions being composed specifically for games that are just as substantive as anything you'll find elsewhere. Newcomer Sam B., alias DistantJ, becomes the first to drift away from the funk/jazz motif that's been applied to the piece thus far and go all techno/electronica on us, and fortunately both the piece itself and the mixer's abilities are flexible enough to pull it off. Sam does a good job of building to the theme verse introduction at 0'45" without giving away the source, and 1'13" sees yet another build, with the uber-identifiable E-MU Shakuhachi (aka the 'Enigma' shaku - perhaps leading to the 'Cryptic' title?) as its cliched but still effective harbinger, setting the stage for 1'47", where the power chorus kicks in. This mix actually takes the exact opposite approach that Morse's Marble Dash did - where Josh focused almost solely on the verse and only had a brief cameo appearance for the chorus, Sam embraces the chorus and makes it the focal point. I'd like to think my own take is somewhere in between the two, but what I love regardless is that a single piece can have a strong enough verse and chorus that both can be used in such different ways, to different ends, but with success either way. Kudos to Nakamura-san for giving the world a track with truly contortionist compositional flexibility when it comes to arrangement. DistantJ writes:
"Though I don't usually dedicate as much time and attention to my videogame remixes as I do my original pieces, I got a little carried away here. This is technically the third take on Marble Zone I've done, and goes a lot further than the previous ones did. I simply applied the genre-rule-bending nature of a lot of my original work to a videogame remix. There are quite a few original sections in here, too."
I hope Sam decides to apply a similar level of effort to future mixes, as you can tell this has been revised and improved via an iterative process, even if he didn't say as much himself. The original stuff is very tastefully and cohesively integrated and never feels tangential or superfluous, and while the arrangement isn't amazingly intricate or the production flooring, both are wonderfully solid. There's meat-and-potatoes patches being used, sure, and there's aspects of the bassline and backing material that are staple foods in the trance arrangement world, but there's also some spices and garnish thrown in so the cookin' ain't one bit bland. The shaku can't help but evoke a certain late 80's/early-90's nostalgia, but that mixes with some edgier stuff in an interesting stew. I'm just impressed that Sam was able to get as much mileage out of the chorus and its underlying chord progression as he did, as most of the last third of the mix is anchored as such, with the verse closing things out. The ending is a little disappointing - a bit too abrupt, the longer verb trails aren't being applied to the synth-guitar like texture that's used, so the processing also cuts out, and it feels like even a fade out would have been preferable, so this is probably the single biggest beef I'd send Sam's way. Larry sums this issue up accurately in my book, but then segues to the larger picture:
"The ending/resolution was really weak at 5:10. The synths faded out too quickly at 5:13, without any significant effects on them for a smooth-sounding fade-out. The production and texture on this came a long way from some of your previous work, Sam. You really prevented clutter and clipping from being an issue for me, and I liked the result. The arrangement really changed up a great deal, so while some may be disappointed that this didn't stay in one place very often, and some of the melodic content deserved more personal flair and interpretation, the end result got the job done."
Strong, varied material that indeed gets the job done and gives the Marble Zone chorus equal if not greater love than the verse, providing a beyond-just-competent arrangement of a beloved theme that I think a whole bunch of people are gonna dig.
on 2013-11-02 16:59:51
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Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Electronic, Synth
- Regional > Japanese
- 5,131,224 bytes
- Size: 5,131,224 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: 4e522304b3802db8faa92f8f5b2654f8
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