ReMix: Harvest Moon 'Four Seasons of the Blues'
3,550,289 bytes, 3:37, 128kbps
Streaming preview on YouTube
Someone was just tweeting the other day about how strange/unjust it is that OCR has no Harvest Moon ReMixes, and Larry was reminded of this VERY unique gem of an arrangement that we've been sitting on, waiting for a higher-quality encode. Unfortunately we never got one, so we're posting this as-is in 128Kbps, but it still sounds pretty darn good, and the unique blend of blues/folk/roots influences makes this a truly distinct, unique vocal mix on the site. Pitt Clemens of New Jersey band Steel Battalion writes:
"This song is about 7 years old and dates back to my college days when I was emulating some SNES classics, and upon playing Harvest Moon I noticed myself humming the themes of each season as I was playing along rushing to stuff turnips and tomatoes into my outbox. Feeling compelled to compose my own version of this music I fell back on my love of Woody Guthrie, Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt to compose a guitar and vocal arrangement with a reflection on blues and folk styles that emerged out of the American South around the turn of the century. Years and Years ago I submitted the song to which I think I got a rejection. Understandable because the original track was more or less a scratch recording. Since that time I joined a band in Paramus, New Jersey, called Steel Battalion. We performed several gigs around the North Jersey and NYC area. On one night we found ourselves short one song in the set list so I played this track for them and the band immediately took to it.
Since that time we used some studio time to record and one of the songs that were insisted upon recording (against my own objection in fact) was four seasons of the blues. Independent recording artist Chris Sulit gave us recording time, and Rob Janos our band leader made sure that the historical sound of the song was preserved, and made arrangements on mandolin, a silvertone acoustic, and even a Magnus chord-organ. Our good friend and collaborator Sunil Carris provided backing vocals simultaneously with me in order to conveyed the shared microphone sound of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan."
That's not exactly your average description or influences we see for most ReMixes, so right off the bat you know this is going to be something different. As a sidenote, listening to this I thought I heard some Led Zep, White Stripes, and Black Keys going on as well, and two out of three of those are listed on their MySpace profile, so that's pretty cool. The concept of covering all four seasons, from a source perspective, is pretty crazy, the lyrics are contextual but ALSO independent from the game, the stripped-down vocal + acoustic guitar is powerful enough on its own but gets some company later on, and vocal performances are soulful. This isn't the type of vocal you can half-ass in any way, shape, or form, and while not everyone can be Robert Plant, the lead vocal here is both demanding & powerfully, emotionally executed. There's a crucial belief & convinction to every phrase that lends the credibility & authenticity these genres demand, so huge kudos are due. OA writes:
"The lyrics walked the line between cute and cliche, but overall worked well enough, and the vocal performances were good. I think more of the organ throughout would have filled the soundscape out more, but I like how the themes progressed through the seasons. This is a definite throwback to an era before tracks got to be hyper-produced, but everything is well-miced, and there is a good room sound. The arrangement is a bit basic, but has a down-on-the-farm feel that I dig, and suits the source very well."
Some judges were concerned that this was a little too much of a medley, so let's consult the standards:
"Your submission must have a strong focus and direction. Medleys must sound like a single song, not multiple songs pasted together."
Which is basically a way of deterring arrangements that stop on a dime and go off in a completely different direction, with a new source, without thought or consideration of greater context. I don't really think that's the case here - while each season's theme is indeed discrete, the continuous vocal presence & a lot of retained instrumentation make this feel like ONE journey through four seasons, not four through one each. Vinnie sums this up:
"I love the four season concept and the live feel of the recording. The vocals are really well-suited for each section, even though the energy level and mood changes drastically ...but the song is clearly a medley, which is usually a no-no for OCR. Eh, screw it, I'm passing this. The Spring->Summer and Fall->Winter transitions could have been better, but the concept absolutely makes this feel like a single song. This song has to be a medley."
Agreed; there's one concept here that involves four parts, not four concepts linked together without reason. From a performance perspective there are definitely some rough edges, most notably the second male-female harmonization at 3'05", but this entire style isn't about perfection or refinement, so if things had been impeccable that would have been odd. Whatever points are subtracted due to a couple timing or intonation issues are, in my book at least, more than compensated for by the singularity & creativity of the arrangement, and the numerous critical performance/production components that DO work quite well. Really nothing else like it; Steel Battalion have given us our first Harvest Moon mix, which is cool enough, but it's also a completely different vision of what a game arrangement can be, and stands out to me as an example of opened doors & new opportunities for what can - and should - be explored.
YoshMaster;879306 wrote: You're right..!!! Cannot be unheard!!
Glad I'm not the only one hearing things. This remix immediately gives me the vibe of "I belong to you" and "fly away". The acoustic version of the latter in particular has a lot of mirrors to this song and the vocal style. Makes me wonder if the remixer is influenced by Kravitz.
- SwordBreaker on August 26, 2012
SwordBreaker;879263 wrote: Vocalist is confident and sounds like Lenny Kravitz to me.
You're right..!!! Cannot be unheard!!
- YoshMaster on August 26, 2012
Flexstyle;879241 wrote: I'm always a fan of songs that go off the beaten path, and a down-home pluckin' song with heartfelt vocals like this is always going to catch my ear. I love it, low MP3 bitrate and all. Gives it some more lo-fi authenticity. :-P
Exactly! I LOVE the down & gritty feel of this song (I guess blues is always pretty gritty anyway haha).
The voices are absolutely amazing, I'm so impressed!!!
This is an instant classic for me.
- YoshMaster on August 26, 2012
- SwordBreaker on August 26, 2012
- Flexstyle on August 26, 2012
"Spring" - :13-:47 (vocals sing woodwind melody from theme's :00-:32)
"Summer" - 1:22-1:32 (vocals sing :10-:20 of theme)
"Autumn" - 1:43.75-1:47.5, 1:48.75-1:57, 1:58.5-2:02 (guitar plays rising note patterns from theme's :00-:15); 2:03-2:11, 2:12-2:22 (vocals sing woodwind melody from theme's :15-:23)
"Winter" - 2:37-3:03 & 3:17-3:35.5 (vocals arrange theme's :00-:27 string melody); 3:03-3:17 (vocals arrange theme's :27-:41 backing string part)
- Liontamer on August 26, 2012
I was very impressed with this. My favorite remixes are the ones where the source material takes a back seat to artistry and a unique listening experience, and that's totally this song. This remix is also one of the few on the website where the vocals are critical to the listening experience; I don't think I would have enjoyed this quite as much without the vocalists (even though the guitar is quite nice). Both singers should be very proud of their work.
A fantastic listen.
- Thylacine on August 25, 2012
Love folk music so I'm all over this one. Maybe the mixing of the guitar could have been a little better, but the song sounds awesome other wise! This is cleverly done and super catchy. OCR needs more and more stuff like this, for sure.
- urdailywater on August 25, 2012
- djpretzel on August 25, 2012