ReMix: Jade Empire 'Global Empire'

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Jade Empire

This ReMix celebrates VGL's Louisville, KY show where Jimmy Hinson (Big Giant Circles) recently organized a group of OCR faithful to attend, including Audix, Tweek and soon-to-be-posted newcomer Nekofrog. BGC originally met Tommy & Jack during the Washington, DC double header of Video Games Live last year. He had such a great time, he wanted to celebrate the Louisville show with a tribute mix to both VGL creators with a hybrid of two themes: one from Global Gladiators and one from Jade Empire, composed by Tallarico and Wall, respectively.

Tommy was the original composer for several OC ReMixes including another by BGC, 'OverClocked Spot.' Meanwhile, Jack was one of the original composers for DarkMessenger's Myst series ReMix 'Unraveling the Mystery', but wasn't listed as the primary composer, so Jimmy aimed to remedy that with this ReMix. The mix is split fairly evenly between a tune apiece from both games, hence Jimmy's title 'Global Empire.' It also could describe Video Games Live at this point: having performed over 60 shows and counting throughout the world, including many locations like Louisville that have never before hosted a game music concert, VGL has certainly been bringing VGM to the masses in a major way. Jimmy encouraged attendees of yesterday's Louisville concert to come by and check out this tribute to VGL's founders, so if this is your first time here in a while (or ever), welcome! Everything at OCR is freely available and tributes fellow game composers. Check out our torrents page if you want to obtain most of the music available from OCR in a few clicks.

On to the mix... while it's definitely cool to see Tommy's work on Global Gladiators get some attention, I'm even more pumped to see some Jade Empire love; this is Jack Wall at his finest, one of the very best Xbox scores out there, and a good example of modern, cinematic game scoring done right. I love Jack's work on the Myst games, but I could never get into that universe too much as a gamer, whereas Jade Empire is right up my alley. The sequel certainly has a lot to live up to, on multiple levels. Things intro with a series of pure, crystalline tones, as an undulating bass synth pattern emerges with forceful ethnic drums, leading up to the appearance of an ensemble string motif over brass chords, with faster, filtered beatwork. Love the low brass action a bit later on - very dramatic, and juxtaposes well over the beat, which widens out a bit. This mix has some great transitions - from minute to minute it can sound VERY different, but it's so well integrated and merges/breaks are so well handled that it still feels like one big piece. The emphasis on guitar and acoustic drums towards the end, as the initial string motif restates itself and helps bring things full circle, is icing on the cake. As is the wah-ish synth soloing. As are quite a few other things - neither BGC, Audix, or Tweek are what I'd call minimalist ReMixers, and by the time they finished with this one, it seems like everything AND the kitchen sink was thrown in. While there's tons of ideas and content here, and while they had a somewhat abbreviated schedule to get it done in time for VGL, it nevertheless feels both cohesive and polished. This is a great arrangement that very creatively mixes two sources and makes them sound as if they were originally written for the same game, which is pretty awesome in and of itself, but also throws in tons of variety, technique, attention to detail, and groove. A great homage to two game composers who continue to change the face of VGM as we know it while having a blast at the same time, and a wonderful collaboration between three mixers who, from the sound of it, also had a pretty damn good time themselves with this stylistic romp.

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Melbu Frahma
on 2011-12-13 12:56:06
A piece that has quite a lot going on at the same time without sounding overcrowded, the track really does a good job with its transitions and not losing the interest of the listener even at a 6-minute length. Enjoyed the good interplay between the various parts, and definitely enjoyed the track as a whole, particularly the part that starts around the 40 second mark - particularly once that crystallized sound hit around 1:05. :-)
OutSpoken
on 2011-07-05 01:36:23
http://reoganworks.blogspot.com/2010/11/song-of-week-215.html
I didn't do the writeup for this track, but this has definitely been one of the best collaborations I've seen.
WesternZypher
on 2010-12-15 13:34:38
The word may be over used but this feels at once both epic and laid back and energetic, movie-score quality. Even better than, even.
Emunator
on 2009-12-22 02:53:44
Undeniably brilliant. I honestly would have never guessed that each remixer was in charge of a different section of the song - while there's definite genre differences, the end result is pretty seamless for a collab of such great scope! I don't think I can pick out a single element of the mix that I don't like, although the points where the audio stutters and cuts out seems like a nice idea that didn't fit in with the rest of the mix.
Other than that, terrific genre-fusion by three insanely-talented remixers, I can hear each one of their influences on the final product!
Polo
on 2009-12-01 17:58:08
A low hum and ear-ringing sound creep over the horizon, when with a sudden burst an amorphous, slimy synth pokes its head above tribal drumwork. Strings march forward with a like-iteration of Techno Tune (similar in feel but playing different notes) alongside clarion call-like brass swells, and the drumwork gets supplanted by sharper percussion that pops, claps, and punches all at once. A bejeweled synth then sings the GG source tune, satisfied with the attention.
At the drop of a cymbal+drum beat, most players bow down before a leading brass playing Fury, Hammer and Tongs in a warhammer-like tone (it's briefly doubled to emphasize its authority). What's crafty here is how the secondary melodies in both sources are given air time: the strings at 1:58 represent 0:22 of Techno Tune, and the brass at 2:23 highlights 0:57 of Fury, Hammer and Tongs.
A gong marks the (almost exact) halfway point, allowing a dreamy piano and chimes to disperse the smoky scene. A thumping bass starts moving things back into full throttle while the synth at 3:35-3:53 does some hilariously screechy, gated, notational falls and rises. Electronica flies over center stage, major gated moments (4:18 and 4:40) break up and refresh the energy flow, and even ghostly cries (4:07, 4:33, and 4:41) rise up to test their haunting prowess.
And then comes a shake-up that seamlessly feeds into the best-of-all-worlds fusion that is 5:03+. The guitar blazes low but fierce, the brass returns for another helping of the JE source, and more warped-out electronica echoes throughout the stadium. 5:37+ feels like a "this is it" climax - something big and mighty's rising up and is gonna floor everyone like a tidal wave. And it does, literally wiping out everything except a dying breed of Techno Tune.
Overall, this flows like a textbook detailing the dawn and growth of civilization, but it's 100 times more colorful and engaging. You guys sure made history. :P
OA
on 2009-03-24 10:29:07
Audix + Tweek + BGC? It's like clash of the titans, but they aren't clashing! :O
Good stuff, and some good variations, I think I preferred the more synthy sections because of the harmonic content, big the big orchestral bits were cool too. Exceptionally nice beats, and transitions. It's pretty ovious you three work well together, and the song progresses really nicely as you all have some time to shine. This mix really has everything, and it managed to stay glued together, even though it covers just about every genre in the book.
Great mix. I love it.
We just got a slammin new BGC track recently, and I can't wait for Audix's presumably incoming Earth Day mix, and Tweek's rumored tribute to Administrative Professional's Day! Good times at OCR! :nicework:
Platonist
on 2008-09-29 19:19:10
at the time that this was posted, my cousin had a Jade Empire marathon going on @ his place ..
it made me curious about this mix even though i never played the game.. and it's definitly a good mix!
nice to see 3 topnotch artists work together like this.. keep them coming :!:
Sole Signal
on 2008-08-07 20:44:33
Martin Penwald;437318 wrote:
Where this mix really shines, at least in my opinion, is the second part, starting at about 4:00. I love this part; it reminds me a lot of Pendulum.

Thanks, that was def my inspiration. :) What I love about this mix is how well our separate sections blended together. Basically, each of us took our own section and developed it separately from the others (except for the outro section, which all three of us worked on).
Martin Penwald
on 2008-08-07 14:39:21
First of, the arrangement here is very good. Although the track is over 6 minutes long, it never gets boring and keeps you interested throughout.
Now, about the parts themselves...can't say I care too much about the action-blockbuster-movie-like strings in the beginning. However, since that was exactly what you were aiming for, you did a great job at evoking just that kind of blockbuster-feel, no matter whether I personally like it or not.
Where this mix really shines, at least in my opinion, is the second part, starting at about 4:00. I love this part; it reminds me a lot of Pendulum.
All in all, you did at good job at what you set out to do, and I love the second part. Well done.
big giant circles
on 2008-07-28 23:52:34
Eino, I appreciate your revisitation of the review thread - that means a lot :)
Also, just to clarify, I wasn't demanding that you (or anyone else) must feel compelled to compliment a track you don't like just because I reiterate a couple of the guidelines. You're still entitled to not like the track a little, or at all, and that's fine. I am rather impressed with the way you managed to review it constructively--that is, put your personal tastes (or distastes) aside and simply state what you found good, and what you didn't personally care for.
And I also apologize if I came across as super harsh. Didn't mean to sound like I was picking on you, but I appreciate you taking my concerns to heart.
Hope to see more constructive reviews like the one you just did in the future :)
evktalo
on 2008-07-28 09:54:38
big giant circles;430229 wrote: Thank goodness there was SOMETHING you liked about our mix...

Hi BGC,
I must apologize. Thank you for posting the link to the link to the review guidelines. I have read them (believe it or not), but it's pretty embarrassing to see how I managed to break the very first one with that post. You're of course correct that what I posted was opinion, not fact. I have a strong opinion in the matter and I was ranting, and this was definitely the wrong place for it. I think I may made a similar comment in another review post, and I apologize for that as well. Finally, I wasn't very serious, but there was very little to indicate that and I now realize I that it was a pretty idiotic post.
On top of that I recognize that some or most of the "constructive criticism" bits in the post weren't very helpful, and come across as fluff thrown in to make the review seem valid. I should have let the ranting out and given a bit more thought on those.
*First of all, "a lot of the current game soundtracks suck" is your opinion, not fact. Try not to preach your opinion as absolutism.
Agreed.. I should thought better about pushing "submit reply", as this was a wrong place for such a rant. Frankly, I probably haven't even played enough of current generation games to come across a recent soundtrack I really really liked.
I hope you never attend a Video Games Live concert with that mentality.
Well, I'd love to attend VGL or a similar concert, and rest assured, I'd attend with an open mind. Looks like it's coming to Scandinavia in 2009. A trip to Sweden just might be feasible for me then.
Well, sounds like you're ending on a compliment of sorts, so I appreciate that at least. Although, if you don't even know what you're talking about regarding dynamics, how can you properly critique them?
Heh, a fair point. I knew what I meant but didn't know how to phrase it. A question I'm myself asking now is if I don't appreciate the style, how do I critique it fairly?
Anyhow, I've now listened to the piece quite a few times, and here's hopefully a better review:
I'd label this one "blockbuster action film soundtrack styled orchestral electronica". I don't generally like this style, but this is an accomplished mix that I find fairly enjoyable despite my reservations, and those who like the style should appreciate it.
The piece opens with an eerie synth, then drums and a bubbling synth bassline come in. I like the "cold ambient" sound of the synth, and the drums aren't being pummeled with 110% power right from the start, which leaves a bit of room for growth later on.
Brass and strings come in at 00:39 and the tension starts to build with additional breakbeat fading in. The brass part sounds good, and it builds up very well. I think the string part is a bit too busy this early - it detracts the attention from the building tension. I felt less would have been more in this particular section, although it's probably good to introduce the figure. Maybe a something like a plucked version of the figure would have been good though, that would have added more sense of growth later on.
The next section has no bass (just the less-is-more effect I meant before), keeps the breakbeat and adds a slightly harpsichord-like synth to a great effect. Then there's a similar figure like the previous string figure, only on lower strings, and here the feeling of build-up is tangible.
In the next part a "modern" beat enters. I really like the electric guitar -sounding thing on the background! The lower strings sound a bit out of rhythm with the beat. It's only slightly so (and doesn't happen with just the previous percussion), but it gives the impression that the styles don't integrate as well as they should. It seems to bother me a lot on every other listen, other times it sounds fine. There's a lot of big overlapping brass and string lines, and it starts to feel a bit much for me, but it does work and there is a sense of build-up throughout, which is very important. I like how the bass guitar (?) comes in just before the breakdown.
The breakdown is a refreshing breather after the build-up of the previous few minutes. I feel the piano is a bit busy in the breakdown - there certainly were a lot of notes before, so the part could afford to have a bit more "space" in it in my opinion. In any case, it's a good transition and I really like how it develops into double-time electronic beat very seamlessly. I definitely like those little pauses. I generally enjoy the last half of the mix quite a lot - it takes the tension built in the first part and goes wild with it.
I feel the timing issue again when the string part is added back in towards the rock section, although it's not as noticeable. Also for a brief while before the synth solo the guitar and strings/bass seem to compete against each other for the same space and they sort of steal thunder from each other. Nevertheless the idea of reintroducing the string/bass is good, and ties the ending to the beginning neatly.
Overall the structure of the piece works very well. It doesn't feel like a six minute track, and I mean that in a good way. (Not that I dislike long pieces in general). Also, I don't know the sources but the pieces are obviously arranged together very well, as it feels like just one cohesive piece.
Not a keeper for me for genre reasons, but nevertheless some very good work here!
--Eino
The Joker
on 2008-07-27 05:47:37
First of all, Ilove that dirty drum in the geinning. Reminds me of another awesome mix BGC was part of... All self advertisement aside, this type of music is my favorite to listen to, symphonica is what I call it. That low brass break gives it so much weight, as does the rest of the orchestration.
Synth work is excellent & flows seemlessly, not detracting anything from the other elements. Also, that DnB/breakbeat section was groovy as hell! Pandemonium 2008! It was a nice little jolt that kick it up & kept it interesting.
All in all, awesome work.
LuckyXIII
on 2008-07-25 16:59:41
I really, really dig mixes with this kind of epic feel. The orchestration is big and it has that phat beat that kicks in right at 1:47. I didn't realize I was still listening to the same mix towards the end when I heard it for the first time; that's like finding a surprise dollar in your pocket.
A 16 minute mix would be awesome. Kind of like a suite or mini-project or something.
Dunther
on 2008-07-24 18:38:09
Really, shocking, amazing, wonderful work.
I never played Jade Empire so I didn't hear the music, but this remix kicks ass.
MadGonzo
on 2008-07-23 06:26:24
second comming of Christ!