ReMix: Blaster Master 'Fear My Lowering Coefficient of Friction'
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Streaming preview on YouTube
Armcannon (homepage, MySpace) is one of an emergingly popular group of VGM "cover" bands... and they're good. Larry and I were kicking ourselves for missing them at T-MODE back in September (found out about the whole convention the day after), but the good news is that all of you coming to MAGfest VI in January can look forward to seeing them there. Trust me, the stuff you hear on their MySpace, while excellent, is just the beginning, and like Powerglove, Year 200X, This Place is Haunted, and many more, they're amazing live.
This seems like an appropriate place to comment on the whole cover band thing, which has taken off more recently as events like PAX realized that having live performances of game music could really liven things up. There's often some confusion as to the difference between "covers" and "arrangements" (or our "ReMix" misnomer), and often the line is pretty damn blurry. I think some in the cover band scene have gotten offended when their stuff wasn't right for OCR, and that's unfortunate. I've been called worse things than an elitist before, but I think it should be pretty clear that I dig video game music, and in general the popularity it's been getting lately - definitely in part to cover bands - is a good thing. Nevertheless, some seem to walk away with the notion that because OC ReMix favors arrangement (we do), we must secretly hate cover bands (we don't), etc. It's silly. Of course, there's also the whole rock vs. techno argument, which incidentally shoves aside jazz, classical, and a number of other genres (kudos to Select Start for rocking the live, classical angle!)... often, guitar players seem to want to reduce electronica artists to knob-tweaking auto-pilot FruityLoops and Reason users who select a few presets then press the magical "remix" button and in under an hour have a completed track. On the other hand, electronica artists might sometimes characterize guitar players as musical egotists who ignorantly denounce all that is not played live as crap, and who use "artistic license" as an excuse for unpolished production.
Sigh. Fortunately, life's not that easy: trying to put people into neat, little groups usually results in ignorance, lost opportunity, and unnecessary bullshit. While sweeping generalizations can and will be made, and may have ounces of truth to them at times, the bigger picture is that most of us love music, love games, and love game music. We also love what we're doing, whether we're focusing our efforts on reintrepeting and reinventing game music, helping it take new forms and go in new directions, or engaging in balls to the wall, rockout nostalgia live on stage, where subtlety might occasionally take a backseat to being loud and kicking ass. I've seen posts on other forums, especially following the release of Voices, where fans of some cover bands were painting a picture of a world where it was either us or them, cover bands or game arrangements, and one was necessarily "better" than the other. I don't know what fuels such comments, or how such an apples-to-oranges comparison can seem sane, but I do know that I feel lucky for being able to appreciate both. Call me crazy, but I (obviously) love what we're doing here at OCR, and I also love what these bands are doing, and that's that.
Alright, down off my soapbox. I felt that no one had made such a statement, and it needed to be made. So, it's especially awesome when we get some crossover action, and a group or individual known primarily for live performances and tracks that might lean towards "cover" status (again, gray area) submits something to OC ReMix that works with what we're doing. In this case Danimal Cannon (Daniel Behrens), of Armcannon, sent us a Blaster Master mix, it rocked, it jived with our standards, and we're posting it. The ReMixer writes:
"This track was originally composed for the Dwelling of Duels competition, under the Fire vs Ice theme. I had been meaning to do a Blaster Master track for quite a while, and the opportunity presented itself nicely. Some of the inspiration for the artistic liberties found in this track was taken from listening to Stemage's Metroid Metal remixes. His creativity with rhythm combined with interesting chord progressions inspired me to push myself as well with those values. A lot of the original ideas I had stemmed around the idea of putting new chords and rhythm underneath a variation on the source track's main melody, which is a staple of my remixing style in my opinion."
Awesome mix, awesome mix title. You've got searing, soaring leads, creative integration of synths (with some weird-but-cool DSP/panning), and - most importantly - an arrangement that takes the original and really goes places with it. It's meaty rock, it's got energy to spare, and it's Blaster Master, which we haven't seen for awhile in these parts. Furthermore, it's from an artist who's part of an amazing band that you owe it to yourself to check out and, if at all possible, catch live.
This is a real chugger. Beautifully distorted and slick in a gravelly sort of way. The holy music of guitar-wielding archangels.
So maybe I'm overdoing it. But the point is, this is of top quality and I liked it a whole bunch. Winnar.
- Marmiduke on November 9, 2010
- WesternZypher on November 8, 2010
Really rockin' though, I don't have much more to say but I enjoyed it! :<
- Emunator on December 19, 2009
I was pulled in from the start. The rhythm guitar in this is fantastic and from 0:30 onwards, it was really groovin' (but the again, i like that particular part because the lead and rhythm got a bit more dirty'n'gritty, and I like that). Solo from 3:22 onwards blew me away, the tone of it was high and soaring.
Great playing and a groovin' rhythm, I love it.
- Sir_Downunder on December 2, 2009
- DeepChild on January 12, 2009
- BlackPhantom on December 6, 2008
- TheStratovarian on March 12, 2008
The rhythm parts on this are completely incredible. Meshuggah-esque, without the time-signature wankery. The fact that your rhythm tone is pristine and crunchy as hell, as well as played super tight really sells this track. I'll say it again: Phenomenal rhythm playing.
The lead tones vary from decent to really good, and the synth touches are excellent (especially good is the counterpoint a little after halfway on top of the super-syncopated riff. Completely metal).
I think the drums are too dry in a few areas, especially near the beginning when they are more exposed, but when the track gets busier, it fits perfectly.
Superb arrangement, great playing, and tight production.
This one is a clear winner.
- OA on January 15, 2008
- Dafydd on December 18, 2007
KogeJoe;356437 wrote: One thing I've gotta say is, I'm a stickler for keeping true to the original melody line. Hate to say it, but the guitar is off in more places than one. Maybe problems with accuracy? You can always play it off as "it's my arrangement," but I don't wanna hear that crap. Once you delve into improv, you are free, but at the beginning, when the melody was introduced, I was put off by the ad-lib of some parts. It would be nice to hear the guitarist give me the original melody at least ONCE in the arrangement, and true to the game music.
Yes, clearly to make a viable arrangement, you just have to reference the melody verbatim. None of that "interpretation" crap.
It's his arrangement. Tough shit if you didn't get exactly what you wanted. :lol: No one has to reference a melody verbatim; that doesn't make any arrangement inherently better.
- Liontamer on December 18, 2007
The one during the intro where it goes root-4-5-octave at the end of the intro, I probably could have pulled off by doing bass tapping in hindsight. I would still fudge it a little bit since that particular pattern doesn't lend itself to tapping too well, I probably would just stay up at the octave a little instead of going back down to the root. I could have gotten it perfect if I punch in every rising arpeggio seperate if I was feeling ambitious.
I'm a lefthanded player and I borrow a righthanded bass to record with. That makes a few of the basslines a huge sonofabitch to play.
During the 6-7-8 chord section with the double kick I didn't match the original bassline because I wanted to lock in with the doublekick because that was the way I specifically wanted that part arranged. The switching back and forth between the root and 5th there on the bass wouldn't have fit in very well with the guitar rhythm, or it just would have gotten lost in the mix unless I boosted it to a stupidly high level. I was tempted to throw in sweep arpeggios in that part, but I had a similar thing in a mix last year.
When you refer to the 1-7chord part I have no idea which part you're talking about give a time reference.
- danimal cannon on December 18, 2007
First, I liked the thought of hearing this piece in actual instrumentation. Love the effects and the improv in this arrangement. Hearing many things at once.
One thing I've gotta say is, I'm a stickler for keeping true to the original melody line. Hate to say it, but the guitar is off in more places than one. Maybe problems with accuracy? You can always play it off as "it's my arrangement," but I don't wanna hear that crap. Once you delve into improv, you are free, but at the beginning, when the melody was introduced, I was put off by the ad-lib of some parts. It would be nice to hear the guitarist give me the original melody at least ONCE in the arrangement, and true to the game music. Not to mention a lot of the time the guitar was LATE as hell. Annoys the hell out of me to hear an instrument trying to catch up. The other thing I've gotta complain about at the beginning of the piece is the un-changing base-line. The game is much more elaborate, and again, it just sounds like the player isn't competent enough. (Sorry, he may be a competent player, but this line doesn't change at all. If he/she is a better player, it isn't doing him/her much justice...) Is it that hard to play the root, 5th and root again up top at the same time? And is it really that hard to shift between a i and vii chord on a base?
Otherwise, I thought it was an awesome idea. Sunsoft tends to have really good, nostalgic bits of music in its games, and Blaster Master is no exception. I've heard very little at OCRemix that I've liked from Blaster Master, and I actually like this one. Interesting work in the changing meters. And this may be just me, but I swear I can hear some influence from the Doom department. Love the echo effect in the electric guitar at 3:30.
Some sharpening of the melody would be nice. It makes the player sound like he/she has a really bad ear, or that he/she is getting a little bit to creative. But overall, good work.
- KogeJoe on December 17, 2007
- richter on December 13, 2007
- Dafydd on December 13, 2007
The use of the choir synth at 02:51 is a fantastic touch. It really makes the part. Very nice solo of course too. No arbitary wankery there. Nice "gliding" sound. I like the ending as it is. I much prefer that cut-off with reverb to a fadeout. EDIT: Whoops, I now realize that there's a cutoff in the reverbed stuff; true, that's an unfortunate glitch.
- evktalo on December 11, 2007