ReMix: Xenogears "Akkadia Rising"

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Humans + Gears: Xenogears ReMixedXenogears

Onwards! The reaction to Humans + Gears has been fantastic; understand, this was an album that wasn't really on our radar as much as Echoes and the upcoming DKC2 album were, but things started taking shape when we (finally) heard the finished tracks, saw the work Ziwtra had done on the site, and got a better appreciation for what Avaris & co. had truly accomplished. Shaun wrote this mix himself, working with Brad to incorporate his saxophone work into the arrangement; Mr. Wallace writes:

"The mix's title refers to Akkadia, or in other words, Babylon. I wanted to coin the mix with a title that symbolized a dark and destined past. In all honesty this mix was conceptually in the works for over a year since the first time I heard Brad play saxophone live at Magfest in 2008. I thought everyone deserved to hear just how incredible and emotional his performances are. I had been listening to Massive Attack while composing this piece. The backing track to the saxophone is focused around trip hop and certain motifs from the source. Everything is built-up and executed based upon trying to bring out Brad's excellent playing. This track features tons of custom sounds made in order to create the dark atmosphere.

Ironically, I do sound design quite often. I was lucky enough to do some sound design for Propellerhead on their new product Record. I made a few FX combinators for their Reason + Record soundbank, for users of both Record and Reason. It's free from their website so definitely check it out! People who are interested can find some more sound design releases from myself and other OC ReMixers from my sound design company Sonic Elements: www.sonic-elements.com. It features demos and soundbanks from OCR peeps such as Jewbei, bLiNd, Audio Fidelity, The Prophet of Mephisto, and AeroZ. Thanks!"

Very cool that Shaun got to contribute to an official Propellerhead offering of any kind; check out his site for some quality synth patches. You can definitely hear a bit of a Massive Attack influence here, but actually with the sax it reminds me of the soundtrack to X, which had a lot of rising & falling sax riffs. I absolutely love the way the drums play with tempo and swing, here; trip-hop can sometimes feel plodding or rhythmically predictable, but Shaun's given the drums some real life by switching things up rather often. Sax is dominant & abundant, but almost never as a solo instrument - instead there are usually two or more sax lines, panned for separation, reacting and responding to each other in a serpentine, collaborative dance. It's hypnotic without being uninteresting, and certainly unique; tpom writes:

"Shaun contacted me about this track significantly before I recorded any audio. We discussed back and forth about the direction the track took, with Shaun doing the mixing and me suggesting ideas for where the track was going. Once Shaun had a relatively finalized mix, I sat down and recorded on my tenor, which isn't very good but gets the job done pretty well. I did a lot of fooling around until I got something I liked, and Shaun did some awesome effecting to my instrument to make it fit into the texture more."

I think the collaboration resulted in a very blended, complete vision; Brad's sax adds a very human element to the texture, and the arrangement creates a mellow funk that still has a layer of tension and unease. Great stuff from album director Avaris and the prophet of mephisto!

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Black_Doom
on 2015-12-02 06:55:42

Usually I don't like such songs as I always find them quite boring and monotonous, but strangely, I really enjoy this song. Brad's marvellous sax and Shawn's trippy breaks make this track a truly standout example of this so-called dark jazz or whatever Very sexy track, guys... Uh. Oh, and of course, it's very relaxing, laid-back and such :P

Crulex
on 2012-04-11 15:35:22

Hmm. I never really wondered what dark jazz that was almost menacing at times and light at others would sound like, but it's pretty neat. A little mesmerizing in its atmosphere, and that sax is simply tasty. This album has so many great tracks like this one and it ones like this that makes me want to actually play the game now.

Emunator
on 2009-12-13 02:28:58

Really sick beats you've got going on here, it makes the sax sound so much better when there's some sort of padding for it to sit on, as opposed to the solo version which sounded pretty weird to me.

42's comment about the "haziness" of the soundscape is dead-on, everything feels like it's floating around in the air for a few seconds after the initial notes hit like a cloud of smoke... Really ambient, really engrossing. Wonderful collab guys!

42
on 2009-12-02 11:42:10

I've heard of industrial metal, but this is, like, industrial jazz.

It has this ethereal hazy quality to it, sort of like... I keep getting this mental image of fog at an abandoned industrial park and you can tell that a living presence is somewhere in there, but you can't find them.

I would imagine this is the sort of background music that would play in areas of L4D if the players weren't around to hear it. The atmosphere is so wonderfully thick in this track; without a doubt, this is my favorite track from Humans + Gears.

Sir_Downunder
on 2009-12-01 23:02:28

Very laid back and sexy.

Drum work is nice'n varied, and the saxophone is just gorgeous. Really great work from Avaris and Prophet.

jintoreedwine
on 2009-11-05 19:56:17

Nice mix :) . I really like the laid back feel of the piece!

avaris
on 2009-11-04 10:30:48

Thank you for the nice comments philomory. :) (the song was done entirely in Logic with some external instruments)

I am really big on keeping to a source's feel as well. The reason this song was done this way was bc when Brad and I were looking for a song to do a sax solo on, this was the only song left that had a strong melody. For the project we had originally planned to make the awakening track a fairly large collab effort with tons of guitars and an upbeat/aggressive feel. BUUUUT....that never happened haha. :puppyeyes:

philomory
on 2009-11-04 00:33:43

There's a lot to like about this mix. The production quality is absolutely top notch, the performance on saxophone is stellar. The mix is both creative and pleasant to listen to.

There's a lot to like about this mix... and yet, I didn't like it.

It's not that there's anything, musically, about Akkadia Rising that is bad. In fact, it's an excellent song. My problem with it as a remix (and I realize that most people won't necessarily share this problem) is that it is just too far removed from the source material. The original piece is one of my favorites on any soundtrack, and I found my ear kept waiting for the 'payoff', when the intense, urgent, almost frightening feeling of Awakening would show up... but the track ended and it never did. My own expectations coming into the piece led me astray.

In other words, it's an excellent piece in it's own right, but as an interpretation of Awakening it seems, to me, to have missed the mark.

DragonAvenger
on 2009-11-02 19:33:18

If I listened to this blind, I would have NEVER guessed that this was the same Avaris who I worked with for Radical Dreamers. You have come a ridiculously long way, and this is complete awesome. I love the overall tone of the piece. I think the drumwork stands out the most to me on this, it never gets stuck in just one groove.

Prophet's sounding pretty sexy in this too. All around nice saxwork.

Great work to the both of you!

Proven Paradox
on 2009-10-29 22:24:08

This is absolutely beautiful. A lot of good stuff came out of Humans + Gears, but this is easily my favorite.

OA
on 2009-10-28 14:28:45

This really meandering for my tastes, but I appreciate the work that went into it. Nice sax tones and some well defined grooves should make this a definite favorite for connoisseurs of laid back smoothness. :-)

Bahamut
on 2009-10-26 22:34:37

Odd take on this boss theme - it sounds more like a porn groove than a boss theme! Smooth though - I dig it!

avaris
on 2009-10-26 14:50:17
thanks for the comments, everyone =)

No thank you!...and everyone too. :)

prophetik music
on 2009-10-24 23:18:06

thanks for the comments, everyone =)

ChaosPlayer
on 2009-10-24 09:44:21

Awesome base, very sexy jazzy atmosphere. Hands down \:puppyeyes:/... And put em up for talent!!

A+ must listen