ReMix: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past "Dancing Leaves"
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We don't normally post two solo piano ReMixes back to back, just because we prefer to switch up genres, etc., but in this case newcomer Doc Nano (Alex Johnson-Buck) happened to have this lovely LoZ:LttP arrangement lined up right after Doug's superb Chrono Cross mix, so we figured what the hey... it's a good week for the ivories. Alex writes:
"This is an impressionist piano piece, heavily influenced by works of Debussy and Ravel (especially Jeux d'Eau), some of my favorite piano music of all time. There are some playing mistakes, but this is the best I can do at present. The mix is meant to conjure up images of being lost in an eerie, enchanted forest. Around every turn there are leaves fluttering in the distance, constantly moving behind a pall of bluish mist, playing tricks on your eyes and ears. If you listen carefully, they almost seem to be laughing at you..."
It's one thing to claim something is Impressionist, or Romantic, or Baroque, or what have you, but it's another thing for that to be self-evident & obvious in the music itself. In this case Doc Nano definitely delivers - anyone who's familiar with the composers in question, or even just heard Impressionist posterchild 'Clair de lune' once or twice, should be able to recognize the "ism." It makes me happy when a ReMixer's stated influence, form, or style so harmoniously matches how I personally perceive their mix, but ultimately execution & musicality are more important. No worries, there, either - while this is Alex's OCR debut, his performance & arrangement skills are excellent. The only major issue judges struggled with a bit is the liberal source usage: at times, it might be a little TOO "impressionistic," and while certain passages are overt, the bulk of the arrangement "dances" around the progression & structure of the source; halc writes:
"ah, I remember breaking this one down in a mod review.. it pushes the boundaries in terms of source use, hovering around that 50% mark but I'm totally down with this. sophisticated arrangement, excellent playing, and a nice clean, warm sound, although I agree that it is slightly on the quiet side overall, but it's no biggie. I'll happily pass this."
Larry was the sole dissenting opinion; he felt the piece was ultimately too liberal:
"Arrangement-wise, I basically heard everything Alex was going for when he timestamped his own work. That said, the way the source material was treated was so heavily based on chord progressions and subtractive usage of the theme that I couldn't get behind it as not being too liberal. The resemblances were there with this interpretation, but I felt the the source usage wasn't overtly identifiable enough."
Obviously, your mileage may vary - it bears mentioning that Impressionism focuses on, as Wiki puts it, "...a suggestion and an atmosphere rather than on a strong emotion or the depiction of a story." Might it be that any truly Impressionist VGM arrangement would almost by necessity be on the liberal side of things? Possibly, but ultimately most judges still felt there was enough Zelda in them there hills to recommend postage, and I'm glad. Stylish, stylized debut from Doc Nano - hope to hear more!
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