ReMix: Alundra "Dreamwalker"
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The single coolest thing about Shnabubula is that the guy just goes apeshit about relatively esoteric Japanese composers many of us have never heard of. He radiates; they fill him with a white light... Case in point, his submission email for this Alundra ReMix declared, in monstrous, capitalized, green typeface:
"SO IF THIS ONE MAKES IT, IT WILL BE THE FIRST EVER KOHEI TANAKA!! "
I mean... somewhere, beyond the sea, Kohei Tanaka is saying to himself, "DAMN, bro, I don't even dig Kohei Tanaka THAT much... and I'm Kohei Tanaka!!11!" ...truly, he is. I'm writing it right here on the intarweb, so it must be true. RAD TANAKA LICKS. Right then, on our way: this is actually far more accessible than a lot of Sam's work, as it employs more traditional wind ensemble or "orchestral" instrumentation, unlike other mixes where he'll introduce all manner of synthetic textures and apply DSP to acoustic emulations to mutate them into otherly creatures of the night. Here we're coloring inside the lines a bit more, timbre-wise, and the arrangement follows suit and presents a consistent matched wardrobe of form and function. If you perhaps feel like some of Sam's other stuff has been a little too avant-garde (that's pretentiousese for "weird"), you should check this out regardless, assuming you're into orchestral, as it's not quite as challenging. Lest I promote the idea that Mr. Ascher-Weiss has lost his mojo for mind-mangling machinations and making the children scratch their heads in wonder, have no fear: this still isn't your typical John Williams, soaring-through-the-sky-as-our-hearts-fill-with-whimsy symphonic fare... not that there's anything WRONG with that. This is a wind-driven, more muted affair, with plenty of harmonic interaction. Interestingly enough, Weed didn't consider this accessible at all, citing instrument placement as being unorthodox:
"i had a conversation with shnab about shining force music and we were picking apart what we liked about certain compositions and i hear so much of what we were talking about in this; the way he visualizes the soundfield is very clear to me in this piece. its got that same controlled business... far from chaos... musical ingenuity. i don't think this is accessible at all; at least not from a compositional perspective since this is highly experimental... your instrument placing is just simply unusual.
the instrumentation. brilliant, sir. i hear the string phrasing and i hear how they play within the soundfield and i am convinced of what i'm hearing instantly. the percussion is nuts - variety is an understatement. the woodwinds are soothing... most of this sounds very organic altogether... it isn't the most believable sounding mix ever but i have a hard time focusing on shortcomings when the arrangement as a whole is so awesome."
I'll agree that placement isn't traditional, by any means, but when talking about accessibility, everything is relative - I still think this is more accessible than your average Shnab mix, if not your average ReMix in general. Brandon had something along those lines, and more, to say:
"Wow, what a wonderful change of pace. Once I got over the disappointment of not hearing a classic Shna Rare Mineral Addict-esque take on the theme I was completely drawn to the delicate woodwinds and strings that fill this mix. The clarinet/oboe work through 0:41 is a great intro before the strings and brass build to a more central role from 0:42-2:25. As tends to be the case with sampled and sequenced strings, some of the solo violin sounds a bit shaky to me (2:00, 4:50 come to mind) but this is a minor issue that is masked well here. Selectively placed lows and a vibrant snare keep the atmosphere light throughout, even during the build starting near the 4-min mark. Man I love the panning on that snare. Rolls are here, accents are there, ghost notes all around; great stuff.
I can be a sucker for a decent sounding piece but the arrangement, which doesn’t lull for a second, takes the cake on this one. Sam takes the simple solo guitar melodies of the source and builds an intricate orchestral tapestry that at once feels like a natural extension of the theme and is a creative expression of Sam’s talents."
If you've been waiting for an Alundra mix, your ship has come in... if you're a fan of Sam's work in general, this is another gem added to a formidable warchest of compositional treasure, and last but not least, if you happen to be Kohei Tanaka: sir... know that you are loved.
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