ReMix: EarthBound 'See Sixty Funk'

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EarthBound

So, the more observant amongst you may have noticed some visual changes to the site that were made yesterday - detail pages for ReMixes, games, systems, composers, publishers, songs, and ReMixers all now utilize the same ReMix listing/grid, which is paginated and allows sorting by most columns. Though some preferred the old method of listing everything on "one big page", the newer paginated grid not only unifies the site but does present a lot more information than was previously available. To help offset the new need to paginate to find games that don't appear on the first 50 mixes of certain letters, I'm working on a search function in addition. The more controversial change, and sadly the one that somehow provoked enough overreaction and disrespect to warrant a number of bans, however, was the introduction of the site's sidebar to our forums. Keep in mind, this is the same sidebar that's been present on the site for ages, just... not on the forums. While I'll be working on a means for users to selectively minimize it, it will forever remain a mystery to me how 130 or so pixels worth of horizontal space suddenly became jihad-worthy. There'll be a number of additions and modifications as we roll into summer - I'd have to waited to debut everything simultaneously, but maintaining two versions of the site was becoming burdensome, and even without the search and other bits, I feel like the changes pushed yesterday make the site far more consistent and unified, which was the intent.

Switching from controversy to controversy, Mazedude's latest raised a lot of the same questions amongst the judges panel that a mix of Shnabubula's which was rejected did. Specifically, both mixes make heavy usage of "chiptunish" elements that strongly resemble the native sound generation capabilities of the C64 and NES consoles, respectively. Now, OC ReMix hosts MP3 arrangements for a reason: half of the mix evaluation criteria takes into account production, which is understood to include mixing, sample usage, instrumentation, and a whole bunch of things likes panning, processing, etc. that often get lumped into "mixing" or "production" as well. In other words, the sonic side of things, as opposed to the arrangement itself. Happily, and unsurprisingly, both Chris' and Sam's mixes were quite strong in the arrangement arena. But both presented a quandary for the judges panel, as both intentionally utilized a soundset that was quite limited in scope. Ultimately, the only real consensus reached is that I think all of us would prefer ReMixers submit pieces that use a wide palette of appropriate samples, and not attempt to emulate the sound of game systems. I'd tend to think the original composers, had they had more advanced tools to work with, would have taken advantage of those tools, and while emulating the sound of old consoles and computers certainly evokes strong nostalgic currents, such imitation is hard to reconcile with the purpose of the site. That being said, the mix evaluation criteria are still the mix evaluation criteria, and both pieces faired well on one side of spectrum.

In the end, Mazedude's Earthbound mix (from the Bound Together project) played around enough with panning, processing, and manipulation of the SID-like timbres that, when weighed in combination with the menacing arrangement, a thin majority of the panel were persuaded. Yes, we take these things seriously, and yes, had neither mix passed, Chris and Sam BOTH would still be amazingly talented fellas, who knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they put these pieces together. That doesn't change the fact that any submission which intentionally limits its sound palette or aims for a chiptunish feel will most likely face an uphill battle on at least one half of the mix evaluation criteria. But enough context... Mazedude's piece takes Suzuki's almost non-descript original (which doesn't describe many of his works) and turns it into a menacing, ominous, C64-injected synth-funk jam. Shariq gets jiggy with his vocabulary:

"...we shouldn't be accepting mixes that intentionally limit themselves to outdated sound hardware and use that limitation as an excuse. Where is that in this mix? There is no hardware that this particular piece is limited to. Mazedude didn't intentionally set out to write a hardware-perfect C64 tune, or whatever it is. The fact that he is, quite-creatively, using chiptune sounds, should not be the reason that this piece should be rejected. There's filtering, there's panning, signal-processing, etc. The texture is grungy and old-school, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's full, and the balance is right. The sounds work together. There's synergy (my word of the day)."

A debatable statement overall, perhaps, but it'd be quite hard to imagine a stock C64 producing something that sounded verbatim like this piece, that's for sure. It's still not Mazedude's strongest work, but you really need to listen to the original - I think the plodding, evil, overbearing approach to the arrangement he took, regardless of the sounds, was totally appropriate, and there's enough texture and depth that the relatively lo-fi quality didn't strike me as a hindrance. The deal-maker for me personally was the funky and devilish time-signature tomfoolery that starts at 2'21" - this isn't your father's Oldsmobile. Syncopation shenanigans aside, the bass here is gigantic; reminds me of Kelis' 'Milkshake' in that regard. For some reason, a lot of people seem to hate that song, but you just gotta respect the massive, detuned synth bass that the Neptunes conjured up for it, and Mazedude has a similarly girthy low-end presence, here, no euphemisms intended. I don't think this sets a precedent of "chiptune mixes" being posted at OCR any more than rejecting Sam's piece set a precedent that they'd be instantly rejected; rather, I think it illustrates the priorities and criteria at play, how they can be measured against for almost any type of music, and how decisions can be reached as equitably as possible. I'm thinking most people are gonna dig what Chris has cooked up, which is infused with C64play without being confined to it.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
evktalo
on 2010-07-24 07:05:32
I've been enjoying this tune for a while now.. really loving the sound and the stomping, jagged beat. I've always been fond of the textures SID can produce and mixing them up with more modern production (and more channels!) works very well here.
--Eino
OA
on 2010-04-29 11:22:56
Clever title. :-)
I almost wish this track took a cue from machinae supremacy and mixed in some metal with the synths- it'd sound really incredible I think, with this type of arrangement.
Still pretty some good listening to be had. It maintains it's pace pretty well, and there aren't any massive surprises, but I definitely enjoyed it. :-)
Nutritious
on 2009-12-15 01:13:13
Well, this is obviously Mazedude stuff here :). Quirky synths, distortion, some dissonance and lots of pitch wheel. Can't say I dig this type of music much personally, but I think there are those who do. Listening to some of his other stuff (some of which I REALLY like), I can't help feeling that this isn't quite up to their level, personal preference aside.
Sir_Downunder
on 2009-12-12 02:37:17
Love it, got it. It's great. It's dark and wicked and all of that great stuff.
Just a great track by the great dude.
K.B.
on 2009-12-03 23:11:04
Hooray for shower epiphanies! Passed by a shampooed hair's breadth.
Per the title (clever!), this is very much chiptune-ish; but more than anything it's Mazedude-ish. If you don't like the screaming synths he employs in many of his remixes, then I venture you're not going to like this either. But if you're like me and you dig that sound, you'll probably dig this as well. That is to say: this remix isn't so much about the chiptune aesthetic as it is the processing. Which is also to say: Mazedude takes the chip and makes it his bitch.
There are a small handful of mixes that, at some point while listening, I instinctively have to crank up the volume. This is one of them. 0:20. Hard intro, slow buildup, then explosion. Hell. Yes. Fistpumping for several measures. And then 2:10 = fullblown headbanging or shadowboxing time... as you will. That's not to say I don't, or can't, appreciate the entire thing - I groove to the entire piece and do so syncopatedly during the breakdowns - but I love me some energy.
You'll hear the source, if you're familiar with it, but what's been done here will blow you away. There's the glorious wickedization that's been done stylistically, though that's just scratching the surface. For instance: the held notes in the melody are now manually pitch-oscillated instead of set to a constant sine wave. That might just sound like spice, but these alterations end up becoming more new notes than mere tremolo, effectively expanding on the melody for a good half of the measures that were simply 'dead' in the source. Also, the breakdown at 1:27 uses the source's bass line as melody, slowly drowns it layer upon layer of texture, and sneaks it back to the chip playing bass line... which then acts as the melody, carrying the piece for several measures. Sure, when a source focuses this much on the bass line it's begging to have it highlighted in a remix, but going for the complete switchup - and then crafting it in with the mix so it builds tension, and then volume, for the climax - is taking a good pitch and knocking it to next Tuesday.
Hey, if it ain't your thing then it ain't your thing. But for what it does - and for what some of us drool at it for doing - this is one sick remix.
Jaybell
on 2007-11-08 15:16:27
I put all of Bound Together on my shitty MP3 player, and for whatever reason, it decided to omit the last character from the title and the artist. This song came out as "See Sixty Fun" by "Mazedud". Heh.
Anyways, Mazedude is awesome. This mix is awesome. Anyone who downloads it is awesome. Anyone who listens to it, even if they don't like it, automatically become awesome.
meccaneer
on 2006-12-19 18:35:57
Someone with more ambition than myself should really just start UnderClocked Remix for tunes like these.
Dhsu
on 2006-06-01 15:46:08
Yeah, apparently straight chiptunes don't fit within OCR's "site purpose," part of which is technically to update old songs, instead of downgrading new ones. More details in the decision for Shna's "Espergirl 2A03" mix (you can download it at Remix:ThaSauce).
RushJet1
on 2006-06-01 13:00:00
on the whole subject of chiptunes here, i submitted one a few months ago (grim determination, secret of mana remix) and it got auto-rejected. the only reason i can guess why is that it's a chiptune. really, though, auto-rejection sucks a lot in that it doesn't explain anything.
jorgandar
on 2006-05-26 05:49:51
obnoxious (my word today) and juvenile. unlistenable and weird. i think that's what they were aiming for and they succeeded. ok i have to turn it off now.
John Nada
on 2006-04-25 17:38:26
I have been enjoying listening to Overclocked remixes for a long time, checking for new ones regularly though never contributing concretely in a way or another.
I've registered for the sole purpose of letting a message about that "controversy" : personnaly, I enjoyed that last remix from Mazedude, as I prefer any mix with genuine and/or enhanced chiptune sounds than any mix like "techno-dance crap that does nothing but repetitive boom boom sounds all along". I didn't find it "SUPER GREAT!!!", but I did find it interesting, and it seems to me there was some good work done on that one.
kittyanya
on 2006-04-22 18:30:22
Just randomly I downloaded this remix and I IMMEDIATELY loved it. The C-64 feel really takes me back to when I played C-64 games. (I was 5 years old, but MAN I have good memories of those games).
Took me a bit to place the song, but once I did, it made perfect sense. Keep up the great work, this song rules. *Puts it on stereo and hits repeat*
Sam Ascher-Weiss
on 2006-04-20 21:47:55
I absolutely love this remix!!!! Such a cool groove in the second half. Tight as hell.
CG2 - KSK
on 2006-04-19 00:40:54
I never usually like remixes that are from a game I haven't played. I usually like to hear the original, or try to remember hearing it, that way the remix has more 'sentimental' value.
THIS is an exception.
Though I'm a huge old-school nintendo fan, I STILL haven't played through Earthbound successfully.
I LOVE the sound, beat, and everything, even though its original tune I wouldn't recognize. Bravo!
9/10!
meccaneer
on 2006-04-17 21:19:35
I friggin love this remix.
And here's my opinion of chiptuning: they are absolutely valid as remixes. That is, of course, assuming that the instrumental 'quality' has decreased substantially (chiptunes remixed as other chiptunes = less cool). Why are they valid? Because chiptunes have the incredible potential to sound really bad. This remixes doesn't; it sounds great. I gave it a 5 at Ormgas. And, Mazedude, if you're reading, you should consider getting this on the Kohina Stream for real.