ReMix: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 "Above the Sky"
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4,535,431 bytes, 3:06, 192kbps
Mr. Rock has been omnipresent in recent OCR history, with five mixes in 2009 and now five mixes to match in 2010, and it's been really cool watching the evolution of his sound & witnessing the accumulation of what's now a two-digit collection of some great VGM arrangements. This mix is something new, his first solo piano arrangement, and while it did take a resub based on panel feedback to get things right, I think the end result is both enjoyable and very different from his traditional 80's synth rock. He originally wrote:
"For what seems like years, this was a 30 second wip as I didn't know where to go with it at that point. However, I kept it on my computer, like all my unfinished wips just in case inspiration struck. In this case it did, and I ended up with a solo piano interpretation of one of my favorite themes from sonic 2. It's not perfect as it is sequenced (I don't have the equipment or the skills to do this live :P) but I hope you guys enjoy it all the same."
With a solo piano mix, and really a solo instrumental arrangement of any kind, it's all the more critical that velocity and timing be expressive and dynamic, and the first cut of this mix wasn't quite there yet, which the panel pointed out. Thankfully, with an assist, a revision was provided:
"Still sequenced :P Protodome deserves credit for helping me with velocity and slight timing changes for humanization. I then took the midi off him, messed with getting a good piano sound, messed with tempo changes to try and make it less mechanical and remastered the track. And there you have it."
Very clean, very clear, and occupying a space that sounds expansive and vast (like the sky, even), this rendering works for me; it's not virtuosic piano playing (sequencing), but it's interpretive and emotive, and it flows. For the record, I probably couldn't play something like this live, myself - there's quite a difference between playing solo parts (which I've done on all my mixes, personally) versus complete, two-handed pieces. It's also a whole separate set of challenges trying to add the requisite humanization & dynamics to emulate a performance "after the fact," as it were. This is a pretty solid attempt, in that regard - while there's still a synthetic quality to some of the tempo shifts, and the later bass notes seem too perfectly aligned, the mix avoids the uncanny valley for the most part and in any case is enjoyable and uplifting. Larry writes:
"Not gonna bother saying much, as this was definitely a significant improvement. There were parts that sounded a bit rigidly sequenced, but the overall flow was much smoother and more human. Nice assist from Blake to help Will get this where it needed to be. This is so much more in line with realizing the potential of this arrangement."
Precisely. Kudos to Will for NUMBER TEN (!) and for doing something different; here's to ten more!
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