ReMix: Final Fantasy IV "The Skies Hold No Angels for Us"
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Well, another MAGFest has come and gone, and the long progression of continually evolving, improving, mutating ass-kickage has another chapter in its history. Brendan, Dom & co. kicked the year off right, and four days of VGM bacchanal ensued forthwith. I had originally planned to catch way more than I did, but Paris Hilton's namesake company sorta dropped the ball and OCR was left without a dedicated hotel room. Shael, Metroid Metal, virt, and Select Start were all great, and I'm a schmuck for all the other folks I missed out on - especially The OneUps. Anna wasn't feeling well Saturday night, and while I love video game music, there are in fact higher priorities. Thanks to all who attended our panel and suffered through apple juice for half price, duplicate slides, and my incessant ramblings. We got some great feedback & suggestions, made eight dollars, and later had sort of a judges pow-wow staff meeting thing where we tossed ideas around and discussed ways we can better serve both artists and visitors. Good way to start 2010, for sure.
But on to the music... Jay collabed on 'Kind of Green', but this is the first time we're seeing him and Stevo Bortz (aka Level 99, aka an integral part of the madness that is OCAD) on a separate mix of their own, and it's badass. Mr. Bortz writes:
"This is a song that was, from the get-go, envisioned to be an epic rock song. For those familiar with Final Fantasy IV's story, they know that what takes place at Castle Damcyan is a short, but pivotal and highly emotional, point in the game... The song is introduced by a dark and heavily atmospheric synth/pad/fx composition written by Avaris, and the fx present here are sprinkled throughout the rest of the song. The intro bleeds into an interpretive A section from the original Damcyan song with a basic chord lead. After the drums kick up the A sections melody gets a little more interpretive but still hovers around the original writing. A second guitar comes in and starts to compliment the first as it goes to the B section. Following this, the drums switch to prominently syncopating the rhythm guitar as the two lead guitars duel into the second B section. A new C section arises, which is an elaboration of the original chord progression from the song, with new writing on all the guitars. Wind sweeps in at the end of the section to take us to a memory of what Damcyan once was as a piano plays a major-scale progression of section A as children play in the background. And then bomb blasts at the end of this as the guitars all come back for one last bit of battling. The final section is supposed to convey a person walking through the ruins of Damcyan while a woman cries and two acoustic guitars usher an end to the dream that was Castle Damcyan.
Now, we really wanted to give feeling to the intensity of destruction at the Castle, and the broken dreams brought about by its demise. While Avaris did some FX and the intro, the majority of synths were played by AudioFidelity, along with the second lead guitar, the bass, the drums, the final mixing, the piano, and lastly adding in the ambient sounds. The song was led and arranged by me (Level 99) - providing the rhythm guitars, the first lead guitar, and the acoustic guitars later on. I hope you enjoy our remix of Castle Damcyan, and I'd like to thank OA for pushing so hard for the highest quality of mixes in the FFIV project. Thanks for listening!"
Is OA biased towards his own project's mixes? Who knows, but I agree with him on this one:
"While the arrangement does get a bit into the solos, the verse segment is played 4 times dominantly, and the chorus three times, and the rest of the song follows that chord progression of the verse. Now granted, the progression is 2 chords alternating, but I think it's pretty obvious they chose those 2 specific chords because those were the ones in the source. Otherwise why not pick a chord progression that was more interesting?
Production-wise, there's a little bit of mud, and I think the snare could stand to come out a bit more, but the guitar panning was cool, the acoustic guitar and bass sounded great. Piano was slightly thin, but overall i'd say production cleared the bar. I agree that there were a lot of solos, but there was tons of source in this, and it was clearly a (very good) Damcyan remix."
This piece just feels right to me... the energy, timing, and emotion all compensate for any other shortcomings. The voices of children, which could so easily have come off as gimmicky or just plain old poorly-mixed, were effective, spooky, and PART of the music, not just window dressing. The arrangement is on the liberal side but not ridiculously so, and the energy & atmosphere fit the narrative, epic focus like a glove. Great stuff from Jay & Stevo, who I hope to see again at M9.
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