ReMix: Wild Arms 'Succumb to the Wilderness'
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Streaming preview on YouTube
Happy Holidays!! 2011 has certainly been the year of the album on OCR, and we've saved the biggest for last; it brings me great pleasure to announce the immediate availability of our 31st & final album of the year, Wild Arms: ARMed and DANGerous!!
Please help us seed the torrent (2.4GB!) & spread the news, as always! This album was a labor of love for its director, Jennifer Jade-Lee Aguirre (JaDE ARaN HaRuNo), and she's done a really fantastic job pulling together a large roster of artists to contribute four discs of amazing music. It's truly an overwhelming album, both from a sheer content perspective but also from the emotions that surrounded its origins, trials & tribulations, and eventual completion - just in time for the game's fifteenth anniversary. Jade writes:
"On December 20, 1996, a role-playing game called Wild Arms released in Japan. 15 years later, I am proud to announce the official OC ReMix album of ARMed and DANGerous. I never had intentions of directing this project. It was just a fan request in the beginning. The thread was old and dead, and after several months later it was revived. Suddenly, the support was pouring in and I took on the responsibility. I wanted this project to be different than the others and make it memorable. I wanted each artist to represent the meaning of the game and my feelings of what it meant to me. Directed by someone who is not an OC ReMixer, I want to thank those who believed in me that I could do this.
Many years ago, I had a great circle of friends. We did everything together and depended on one another. As we got older, our lives started to change and many friendships ended in brokenness. I remained lost for a great amount of time hoping someday it would be the same again. Later I discovered Wild Arms because of the music and decided to buy it. I found myself and these old friends in Wild Arms. It was like replaying my past over with a soundtrack. The Western theme reminded me of my father, because of his admiration for Westerns. He passed away after I discovered the game, so it brought me some closure.
The project is about the music, the fans and everyone's dedicated hard work. Though the reason why I chose Wild Arms is because I wanted to dedicate this to my husband, Jordan Aguirre (bLiNd). It is the very meaning of my love. What I needed and wanted was always right in front of me, not what I had before him. In the middle of making this, I wanted to give up on the project because of what occurred in 2010, but Stevo Bortz (Level 99) did not let me give up. Wes McDonald (Emunator) also joined to ensure the release. I thank those two for being my co-directors, because it would have not released today. Also, special thanks to James Joyner (Jewbei), Aaron Wu (Global-Trance), and Wesley Cho (Bahamut). After MAGFest 9, I learned who my friends are and what my life deserves the most. I had been separated for a year and a half and just recently we had our reunion. I am truly blessed and grateful that for Christmas of 2011, I get to spend it with my husband and his family while celebrating the release of this album and our reconciliation, despite of our sacrifices and pain. I am still making an effort to leave the past behind me and accept the present and future. The music is the whole explanation of this strife.
I am grateful to those who succeeded in this specific sound. Wild ARMs is about love, emotion, tragedy, and adventure. Shine in all your glory."
Let's make something clear: album projects take a lot of work, and those brave few directors who take them on & see them through to the end are making sacrifices for a greater vision. It's clear from Jade's note that this was an emotional album and that she invested a lot into coordinating it, and I hope that its completion & reception reflect the love that she's poured in. Props to Stevo, EmuWes, James, Aaron, and BahaWes for supporting her - this album is HUGE, and there are so many outstanding tracks that I don't think I'll fully appreciate every last nuance until well into 2012. But 2011 still has some juice to let loose, so let's open the floodgates, shall we?
We begin with Stevo's debut mix, which itself intros with a lone wolf howl, followed by acoustic guitar and hand percussion, quickly establishing a Western atmosphere. The Bortz writez:
"I never played Wild Arms. However, when Jade re-started the Wild Arms project, I took a listen and fell for the song "Into the Wilderness". Originally, I had planned to turn this into a Morricone-style tremendous production, following in the steps of Ecstasy of Gold. Yeah, that didn't work out with my current grasp of orchestral arranging. Instead, I ended up with a track that, according to Jade, captures the feelings in context of the game.
Starting with a lone wolf cry as the wind rustles, acoustic guitars intro, followed by bass and two clean electrics. Assorted hand percussion start the rhythm and then the instruments lead into the first main chunk of the original source. Repeated, adding drums and some other instruments, until they drop out and the clean electrics give way to distorted. What started somber and distant is now intensified. This section is a re-imagining of the second main chunk of the original source: in the original, a few chord changes prefix a key change for a second runthrough of the first main chunk with modifications. I didn't actually include that, instead going my own way and writing around the main lines with small noodling, and two new sections of chord progressions until it wraps up with one more brief runthrough of the first main chunk. Instruments fade as softer electronic instruments support a lone man whistling the melody line.
*walks off into the sunset during the ending whistle part*"
Nice; feels like an opening & a closing simultaneously, which arguably all great Western themes do. The dynamic development from open night skies on a desert plain into something more aggressive & emotional is handled naturally so that both vibes coexist in the same song & it makes sense. Jade writes:
"The signature source of Wild Arms is "To the End of the Wilderness." I originally had this track in mind for another artist, but he declined. Stevo Bortz (Level 99) approached me later about the track and promised to deliver. All of my expectations were met. The track even made me cry. This song's meaning aligns perfectly with why I did the project, and Stevo's arrangement is exactly what I envisioned. While not the only contribution he made to the album, this track is the one that touched me the most. Let your music touch the souls of the fans."
That last sentence almost sounds like an English reprise to an otherwise Japanese anime OP theme, but the sentimentality here is warranted; Stevo really did handle the source with an appropriate mix of power & restraint - great stuff. A heartfelt congratulations to Jade for seeing this album through & to all the talented artists who have created a massive, expressive tribute to Michiko Naruke's score!
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