ReMix: Cave Story 'Moon Rhapsody'

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Cave Story

Besides being photogenically goofy from birth, Doug's been a consistent force on our forums, goes to the same school as the panel's own pixietricks (Peabody), and is a talented multi-instrumentalist with an emphasis on percussion. For this charming ReMix, our second from Cave Story, he played live flute, and even got his MomUltimA to help out on violin and viola. It's great to have a musical family - both of my older sisters are musical, but it seemed to skip a generation, as my parents are somewhat rhythmically and melodically challenged. Mr. Perry writes:

"This remix was my first project in sonar (or any digital music program) ever. I'm gonna try to refrain from saying too much about it to keep this from turning into an interview piece (i.e. a piece that sounds better while the composer/arranger is talking about it). When I got to the part of the game where Moonsong was playing, I was totally blown away by the level of atmosphere I was faced with. I suppose this would happen when every aspect of the game is coming from the same mind. So I really wanted to make something with it. The synth sounds were chosen really to keep rooted in the original, while the rest of the arrangement is what the themes presented in the original meant to me. Balcony came into play kind of as a fluke, but I kept the idea because in Cave Story, Balcony and Moonsong are the only two songs that play when you are outside. The arrangement is based really on what the melodic and harmonic themes mean to me."

The very first couple of seconds here, with wind and chimes, remind me of the intro to Bucks Fizz' "Land of Make Believe" - truly one of the most overlooked 80's cheesefests in existence, and one of my favorite go-to songs for the musical equivalent of high-grade Paxil. It's interesting, because as a percussionist, you'd think Doug would have mixed the drums here a bit louder - they're great, but in general the bass, which sits off to the left, tends to eat up more than its fair share of the frequency spectrum. Barring that EQ gripe, this is a lovely, expressive arrangement that marries distant, pure, celestial synth textures with living, breathing flute and solo strings, pushing everything along with a dynamic percussion track. It's got the same expansive, unreal atmosphere that Doug alludes to above, and then some. Jesse corroborates:

"This track is rock. The arrangement is sophisticated and emotive. The leads, bass, and drums are all sequenced beautifully. The live performances are fantastic. The composition and partwriting are the high point. Leads and counterharmonies weave in and out like dancing. The appropriate instrumentation and dynamic arrangement build a vibrant atmosphere."

I couldn't agree more, on all counts; for an initial result out of Sonar, it shows amazing potential and an already formidable handle on melding electronic composition with acoustic elements. Mastering is the only Achilles Heel here, and it's a small heel at that. Really rather teensy. Demure, even. And well-guarded by an armament of skillful arrangement and rich performance.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
GravitySuitCollector
on 2011-02-15 18:29:48
I love this remix already. It really does maintain the atmosphere throughout, and you did a great job with everything. The instrumentation choices, I think, were perfect. Probably, the only thing that might have been changed is the panning on some parts (bass synth melody?) and some volume levels, as mentioned before. Thank you. :)
tweex
on 2010-08-12 18:43:03
Our first mix from Mr. Doug. The opening ambient SFX was great. The pure tone of the synth juxtaposes quite nicely! The quirky drum beat creates a great vibe. The bass chuggs along pretty well in there. The strings are a little electronic-y for me, but they add a nice touch. Love the oboe tho. The slow breakdown section is great and brings in a great dynamic change. The marcato strings are a little slow in attack, but it's not a deal break at all. The LIVE violin is gorgeous. So much so that my wife just leaned over and asked me, "Is that from the Spanglish soundtrack?" Congrats on that :)! This is a very minimalist piece in a lot of ways, but it still has lots of movement. I really like it. Doug's drumming ability has never been in question, and he finds the perfect balance here. Awesome work!
MechaFone
on 2010-05-29 17:44:26
Awesome in it's own rights, very enjoyable :)
Monobrow
on 2010-04-06 16:18:02
This is a good song.
It's a little muddy because Doug LOVES those lows so much, but the composition is amazing, and even moreso than that, full of soul and love for the source material. You can really tell.
<3
Felizbingo
on 2010-04-06 10:36:14
Wow very good site to find lyrics soundtracks, and games, fantastic. congratulations for the post
Emunator
on 2009-12-03 18:52:35
I don't know why this one doesn't have the same number of reviews as some of the other OCR classics, I really think this piece is amazing. Every instrument is handled with care, but the drums, violin, and flute really feel natural and harmonious to me. My only complaint is that the violin feels mixed really loudly, it's kind of startling!
I personally think this is Doug's best-written and best-executed song, I'm glad the judges hassled him about certain aspects to get this one as good as it is today. One of my favorites and it pains me to see this one only have a few pages of reviews.
Pachi Risu
on 2009-11-10 23:42:12
Very enchanting, and great use of woodwinds. I loved the woodwinds, especially the oboe. You're introduction of the violin at 2:52 was smashing. The chimes at the end was a nice touch.
yosefu
on 2009-05-27 12:01:23
My fav Cave story mix. I really love this mix its just so relaxing.
OA
on 2009-03-23 12:51:52
I wish the drums were a little forward in the mix, as they are really tasteful and groovin, but otherwise this is good stuff. Nice live instruments, some cute track cameos that aren't too obvious, and a great written bass part. Some excellent drum fills near the end as well.
Ending was ever so slightly abrupt, but throughout, this is a very classy arrangement.
Nutritious
on 2007-09-25 10:50:12
Beautiful arrangement, good changeups throughout and classy use of live instruments, synths, and samples. Great drum programming too (though, what do you expect with that kind of name?). This should've been on my playlist earlier.
Indrik
on 2007-04-02 02:48:08
If the violin took a bigger role throughout the whole thing, this would be on my playlist forever. If you don't intend to do another work like that, at least edit this one use more of the other instruments that only briefly appeared.
Martin Penwald
on 2006-12-12 16:31:48
Damn, that violin at 2:50 is great. Sends shivers down my spine, alas only for a short time. This mix could have used a little more energy, and both flute as well as violin can deliver that.
So yeah, nice song, but more POWER next time, plz. And more violin.
Yamato2299
on 2006-12-07 13:11:45
It's a beautiful song and I love the violin. Not much else to say that hasn't been said already so I'll end it by saying I look forward to hearing more stuff like this from you in the future.
Fray
on 2006-12-02 20:03:37
Damn, this is a fantastic mix! I've been listening to it over and over for the past two weeks.
Mr. Fox
on 2006-11-17 11:15:49
Stylish! The drum programming is excellent for most of the mix, the violin at 2:52 is great and the synth solo afterwards is awesome.
Congratulations Doug, looking foward for more!