ReMix: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest "Sturm und Kong"
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- Game: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Nintendo, 1995, SNES)
- ReMixer(s): djpretzel
- Composer(s): David Wise
- Song(s): "K. Rool Returns (Title Theme)"
- Posted: 2010-03-15, evaluated by djpretzel
- Album: Featured on Donkey Kong Country 2: Serious Monkey Business
- Terms (BETA): electronic orchestral synth
It's been awhile!
2009 was the first year ever since the site's creation that I didn't post a single ReMix of my own. While it was a great overall year for OCR, that sorta sucked for me personally, and I'm really happy that 2010 will NOT be the same. I'm extremely proud to have been part of Serious Monkey Business, and I really did work my ass off on this track. The major delay was that I originally envisioned this as a very slow, purely orchestral piece, almost like a version of the Soviet national anthem. I love the source track to death - it covers so much melodic territory in such a small space and really sets the tone for the game - and I felt obliged to do it as much justice as I could possibly muster.
Eventually, what I decided was that my slower, orchestral approach simply didn't allow for enough variation in tone and tempo - the source is an overture, really, and my mix would be kicking the album off and similarly setting a tone, and I didn't want that tone to be monochromatic. I ended up salvaging 80% of what I'd done orchestrally and used that as components in a new hybrid electronica/orchestral track, where I could play around a lot more. The end result is indulgent & flamboyant in the way a lot of my older stuff was, so I had fun sorta returning to my roots in a sense. Although, way back then, I didn't have orchestral samples nearly this good ;) The intro is definitely channeling Elfman a bit, and if I had even more time I had more ideas on how to extend it a bit with some chromatic runs that would have further cemented the likeness. I had a blast using tuba and bassoon to get a deep, resonating, menacing sound, and hey, the factory Kontakt 4 choir patches aren't half bad, so I threw some of that in there, too.
With the drums, once the core beat kicks in it doesn't really change that much, aside from some reversal/repetition effects during the main synth solo. I felt bad about that and tried a dozen different variations, but ultimately made the very intentional decision to leave things as-is because it just sounded better that way. I did at least vary some of the hats and other percussive fx to help separate the sections. I had a blast with the completely unsubtle, in-your-face Rob Papen Blue synth solos at 0'56" and 2'09"; this was actually the first time I extensively employed piano roll editing on a part I initially played in myself, to achieve some quick arpeggios that I could never have done manually. I'm no zircon or tefnek, nor do I pretend to be, but I think the end result sounds neat, and that's how my own rudimentary internal barometer for electronica works. Feels a little weird quoting someone else on my own mix, but album co-director Wesley Cho said:
"This intro track by djpretzel, the founder of OverClocked ReMix, kicks off the album the right way: an electronic/orchestral hybrid, this captures a sense of the variety found on the album. It also embodies what is generally expected of the music from OCR: the reinvention of video game music through personal rearrangements. djpretzel's trademark style is on display here, with lots of action from the synthesizer, beats and strings combined with a variety of other instrumentation. There was quite a wait for djpretzel to finish this track, but the final result was definitely well worth it."
Thanks, Wes! From an arrangement perspective, I liked taking this melody and forcing it forward into something rude and aggressive, then backing off with french horns and strings. I love playing with intervals, changing how a melody or even a harmony plays itself out, and there's a metric ton of that here as well - the source melodies reallly, really lend themselves to a lot of variation, and I had great fun exploring the permutations. I also had my typical puntastical glee coming up with the mix title. As an additional side note, the thunder effects here are actually from a thunder sheet patch, which is an orchestral percussion instrument designed to sound like thunder, as opposed to samples of actual thunder.
In summation, I love this album, and I felt a lot of pressure to come up with something to kick it off right. I hope I did that, and I'm happy with the end result and the direction I took things. The source is already so fantastic that a purely orchestral approach just seemed like it would be a sound upgrade, rather than an interpretation, and I still think the brilliance of Dave Wise's melodies comes through in this more assertive context. I'm glad I could work the different themes/tempos from the original into a single track that I think is pretty cohesive. Hope you enjoy, and it's great to be back!
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