ReMix: Xenogears 'Hymn of Aveh'

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Ever since we posted Kate's addictive and memorable debut FF9 vocal arrangement, 'The Rose General,' I've been looking forward to the follow-up. Production may not have been pristine on that mix, but damn if the vocals, lyrics, and overall arrangement weren't drop-dead gorgeous - I find myself revisiting it quite often. Only time will tell if I do the same for this lovely Xenogears ReMix of 'Bonds of Sea and Fire,' but all signs point to a resounding "YES"; Ms. Covington writes:

"I recorded this acoustic/vocal cover of Bonds of Sea and Fire about a year and a half ago and posted it up on my youtube site. From frequent requests I've decided to finally submit it to ocremix. All acoustic instruments (violin, recorder, djembe, harp, tambourine) are performed by me. There is a small amount of synthesized bell-harp as well in the chorus played on keyboard. The "lyrics" are supposed to be in the language of Aveh, (harsh consanants and vowel endings just like a desert language should be) I wrote the music for the small bridge to flesh this song out.

I'm not sure this meets the standards of ocremix production wise, it's an older cover of mine and has very inexperienced mixing. However, I'm proud of the ideas behind the arrangement and the recording itself, and hope it might be an enjoyable listen for you guys in any case. Let me know if there's anything that can be done for it."

Don't worry Kate - it sounds fantastic. Recording vocals & live instrumentation is simply downright HARDER than doing the type of sample-accurate sequencing most of us take for granted, where the level of control is ridiculously fine-grained and everything can be infinitely tweaked w/ unlimited undo. Sibilance in particular must have been challenging on this track, but the day a mix that sounds like this gets rejected is the day we'll need to seriously recalibrate our process. The same pared-down, raw emotionality that worked for 'The Rose General' again works here, with each instrument playing an important, distinct role. Everything's separated, clear, articulate, and tailored to Kate's arrangement, but the most beautiful instrument is again her voice. I guess naysayers might criticize her made-up Aveh language, but I for one think it's pretty damn creative and - more importantly - she sings it with authority, authenticity, and emotion. We might not know what she's saying, but we can tell she feels it, and means it, and that's ultimately half of what a great vocal is all about. Of course, simply having the talent to execute is the other half of that formula, but I don't think there are any doubts, there.

With new-age folk and Loreena McKennitt-style, Celtic arrangements there can be a tendency to stick too closely to expectations and form, but the transition interval at 1'46" was anything but expected, and I want to emphasize that even if Kate couldn't sing a lick to save her life, her arrangements would stand on their own as quite sturdy instrumentals. It sounds cheesy to say "HEY LOOK FOLKS, SHE'S DONE IT AGAIN!!," but you know what? She has - awesome.


Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Lady Shinigami
on 2014-06-23 01:23:47
STORY TIME! Its a slightly unusual story, but as were all creative types here I figure you all will understand.

So we all know that when katethegreat19 submitted this amazing song, it came with a "translation" crafted by KaelWolfCry that makes it more or less Avehs national anthem. At the time I found this (which I believe was in late 2011 or early 2012) I was—technically still am, but its on hold for the time being—rewriting an old, old Xenogears fic (from the early 2000s, and you can tell), and it heavily features Bart and the Aveh pirates. As you might expect, I listened to this song a lot (also "The Last Fatima" and a number of other related and nonrelated arrangements from Humans + Gears, alongside the OST) for inspiration and mood-setting and everything else.

The truth is that I am a dragon fanatic and generally dislike the dragons-are-always-your-enemy shtick. I get that this perception goes back at least to the Bible and for that reason isnt without merit and so on and so on, but that all dragons are evil all the time (apparently) seems to be a primarily Western concept I happen to disagree with. That being the case, with dragons being canonical beasts for the Xenogears world it was safe for me to introduce a dragon as a minor supporting character who had been around since before the founding of Aveh. Obviously—for those of you familiar with the game—being a minimum of five hundred years old, her role in the countrys history is involved, and shes pretty much worshiped by everyone in Bledavik as a symbol of Aveh and the royal family.

Having spent way too much time studying both katethegreat19’s original lyrics as well as KaelWolfCry’s translation, I found myself agreeing that the original lyrics reference a dragon, either metaphorically or physically. And that was when it occurred to me—considering how highly this dragon character of mine is viewed by the people of Bledavik, its likely Avehs national anthem would include her if it wasnt outright about her. That being the case, why not write my own "translation" that better fits my fic? So I did. And while Im not a poet at all, Im quite pleased with the results.

Thus Im posting to express my gratitude to katethegreat19 for her inspiring arrangement, as well as to express my gratitude to KaelWolfCry for inspiring me to put more thought into one of my fics than I normally do. As a writer I am always aiming to improve myself, so going so deep into the Xenogears world as to craft a national anthem for Aveh can only mean good things for my other fics and, more, for my original works. So thank you very much, etc.

And if you all still think thats weird, oh well—too late now. But this is for a fic thats 263 pages and counting, written almost exclusively in size 10 Times New Roman. And thats not including the four related fics in the series. So this isnt a simple one-shot or novella—its a long-term project with a lot of effort in it and a lot of effort left to be put in it. I just figured someone would be interested in knowing that yes, this is a fantastic song—but its done more than please appreciative ears.

on 2013-04-06 11:18:42
whatever did happen to Kate? seems like its been a while. definitely improves on the original , which is a great quality in a ReMix.
on 2013-04-05 21:45:59
Kate, there is a quality to your voice that I cant describe., so gorgeous. The violin work is excellent as well. Definitely one of my favorite remixes from you. Cant wait to wait to hear more!
on 2013-02-20 06:53:03
I was in the gym a few days ago letting my OCR playlist roll, which has the torrents in them at random. For the first time, I heard Hymn of Aveh, and I literally stopped in the middle of the gym and just stood there, listening. Fantastic, fantastic work. I
on 2012-08-31 11:24:38
My freaking mouth fell open listening to this. Not joking at all. You have an incredible voice and it reminded me of Celtic Women or something like that. Making an entire ReMix like this must have taken a boat load of work, and this is extremely impressive. Beautiful ReMix, and of course I absolutely love the Celtic sound to this. That violin was excellent and....damn. Thats really all I can say about this, damn this ReMix is awesome.
on 2012-03-25 20:17:55
I recently discovered OCRemix, and this was the first mix I heard that compelled me to immediately go look up all the authors other works.

Other mixes have since surpassed this in my mind, but damn did it make an impression. Listen to it, love it.

'a_d' wrote: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Revelation 12:9

"For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:14

"Old dragon, old dragon Aveh
No brighter star leads us
Give us light" -Hymn of Aveh

"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer [Satan], son of the morning!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God "
Isaiah 14:12,13

(I do think the song sounds beautiful)

Methinks youre interpreting this through a lens it was not meant to be viewed with. As in, completely different (not to mention, entirely invented) mythology is involved.
on 2012-03-25 20:08:38
I recently discovered OCRemix, and this was the first mix I heard that compelled me to immediately go look up all the authors other works.

Other mixes have since surpassed this in my mind, but damn did it make an impression. Listen to it, love it.
on 2011-02-13 20:40:16
Absolutely a great vocal performance. I love the slightly Asian feel to the music I picked up. I am not familiar with the Aveh language, but it sounds like a mix of Japanese and Latin... very cool.
Martin Penwald
on 2010-07-14 15:33:49
Dunno why anyone would be bothered by the made-up language; its not any different from listening to a song in an existing langauge you dont understand.

Anyway, about the remix in hand...its bloody amazing. Voice work and instrument playing are very good (especially the violin), as is the arrangement. It really makes me want to listen to the OST again (I paid outta my ass when I bought it a decade ago, but I never regretted it).

Waiting for her next submission.
on 2010-07-08 11:20:26
She just now submitted this? Oh man, this has been one my favorites for a while.
on 2010-07-06 21:24:54
Kate, I have not yet played Xenogears (though I want to someday), and I had no familiarity with this track until looking it up after hearing your mix.

And in spite of not knowing the source tune, after listening to this twice its easily become one of my favorite OCRemixes of all time. I love this every bit as much as Star Salzmans "Pillar of Salt" - and as remixes go, that one ranks very high on my scale! :)

This is at once a relaxing, breathtaking, and mystifying arrangement. And Im sincerely impressed at your great talent, to have played all of those instruments so expertly. From here on out, Ill be patiently waiting for your next mix to arrive here - and of course Ill be browsing YouTube for the ones that arent here yet.

Best of luck in your future endeavors!
on 2010-07-02 12:49:19
the only reason i knew the source tune was because of the Of Sea and Fire mix by Ziwtra, when I heard it here I was like ohmygoodness I know that lol

awesome stuff
on 2010-06-28 18:38:08
Another great one by Kate. What a wonderful voice she has. Shes cute too.
on 2010-06-28 14:59:45
katethegreat lives up to her name :)
on 2010-06-28 11:38:52
loved it! incredible vocal performance (as expected, of course). i just wish I could play so many cool instruments :nicework: