ReMix: Chrono Trigger 'Islands in the Sky'

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Chrono Trigger

Do you KNOW that we haven't posted a single Chrono Trigger ReMix since FEBRUARY of this year?? That was ambient & DA's collab, which was a 'Corridor of Time' (aka 'Zeal') arrangement, as was Gario's CT mix before that. Can you guess which theme Avaris has chosen to arrange?? Well, they don't 'em classics for nothin', and Shaun has done a great job putting the emPHAsis on different musical sylLABles so as to distinguish his vision. Dolly gave us islands in the stream, Weezer took us to an island in the sun, and now Avaris takes us up where we belong, among the Laputans:

"The Zeal theme is a source I have wanted to tackle for a very long time. As a kid I actually remember replaying Chrono Trigger again for the sole reason of making it to Zeal so I could listen to this theme. I know this source has been done to death. To breath in some new life I focused more on the B section of the original. The mix was done entirely in Reason v6. It features tons of samples from the Roland D-50 and heavy use of the new Pulveriser device. Big thanks to Brad and OA for providing some helpful critiques, especially around the percussion. Texture wise I went with the mindset of less is more. Nowadays it is so easy to overload tracks with too much content. Part of what made the original so timeless is how strong each individual part was. In the arrangement I tried to introduce individual elements from the original in a timely fashion so every element has its own time to shine."

Gratuitous jokes about tons of CT/Zeal mixes aside, I think the ReMixer has done precisely as he describes, and the result is an icy, pensive soundscape that revels in the pure beauty of Mitsuda's progression & melody. The bass that enters at 1'25" is surprisingly monstrous, but that's nice - it brings some attitude to the ambience. Emunator writes:

"It's a pretty minimalist take on Zeal, but you can tell that everything here is very intentional and deliberate, and your simple soundscape and textures are just plain beautiful. I'm rarely this floored by a mix that's this simple in its execution, but I guess that's a sign that Shaun is doing-it-right and has really gotten the hang of his craft."

Nutritious had some more specific insights:

"The general flow is very smooth with a nice balance of synthetic and natural instruments. Nice solid groove with a lot of different elements thrown in together. Overall, he sets a great mood for the listener and keeps it going until the end of the mix. I will say the choir ahh's were a little off-putting as the abrupt note changes belie their realism. Still, their pushed back in the soundscape enough to not be a big issue. Also, I heard what sounded like a few subtle wrong notes at 2:40, 2:49, 2:57, 3:31 - maybe choir clashing with violins, I'm not sure.

Arrangement is very nice - if a bit straightforward in some of the melodic treatment, the shifting focus of embellished backing parts and tasteful incorporation of a widely covered melody line really win me here."

My thoughts exactly... I did hear the choral oddness, in particular at 2'56", and was a little surprised more judges didn't mention it, but it didn't bother me much and my brain was more-or-less willing to accept it as "tonal clusters" ;) It's such a great source, and I know we've heard it over a dozen different ways, but I keep loving each new version, and Shaun's take is no exception - stark, lovely, and vast.


Discussion: Latest 11 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2014-03-07 09:03:34
That, man, that's terrific. Now this is a perfect landscape done in audio form. Beautiful stuff, especially if you lay back and just try to visualize something in your mind while it plays. Awesome ReMix.
on 2013-11-12 19:24:28
The atmosphere in this is right on for driving home on a cloudy autumn day. Nice job!
on 2013-09-08 16:30:24
Smooth atmospherics! I was kind of thrown off with the almost-retriggering violin and the flimsy cymbal, but that's alright. By now you would notice that kind of detail. :)
AWESOME bass instrument, and great detail work with the background glitching.
on 2012-11-10 23:18:27
It's hard to go wrong remixing such a timeless (ha, ha!) theme -- but the restraint the mixer showed in avoiding over-embellishment really helps this one stand apart (if not stand out): this almost seems (imho) like an enhancement as opposed to a remix but there's no judgement in that statement - however you look at it (or listen to it), it's really good by any measure.
dANGER boy
on 2012-10-28 00:56:41
I like it, especially that phat bass that comes in. Really reminds me of the 80's-era synth bass. Yes, this is probably one of the most remixed themes but this ReMix goes to show it hasn't been exhausted yet! Nice work.
Elder Kirby
on 2012-10-27 00:54:36
The bass comes in perfectly! All the intricate details, while still maintaining the atmosphere, really make this piece.
on 2012-10-27 00:15:01
Some times I get a little apprehensive when one of my favorite songs is remixed... and remixed... and remixed. BUT! When its done right, meaning it has its own feel while staying true to the idea of the song. That my friends is art.
on 2012-10-26 06:44:15
The entire song reminds me of kind of floating along, I was trying to visualize something of wispy islands in the clouds until the melody hit at 1:58. Hmm.. It sounds like the notes were simply "permitted by the song" to be there and they made a rather hasty retreat after they were done doing the bare minimum of what they had to do. The notes cut off rather abruptly compared to the flow of the rest on the song.
on 2012-10-25 23:14:57
NEW AVARIS MIX POSTED!! IT'S A FREAKING BLUE MOON! or at least as good as one.

I really like what's now going to be the most played remix on my mp3 player. :) This guy's work always makes me want to get better.

*will post more meaningful review/comments after careful 2 year analysis*
on 2012-10-25 16:59:40
Easily my favorite Zeal mix thus far, even beating out Mazedude's classic "Island of Zeal." While Mazedude's is a beautiful, equally masterful arrangement, the minimalism of this mix and its focus on the B-section of the theme has me evaluating the society of Zeal in a new, richer way.
It's entirely personal preference, but I prize this mix's uniqueness.
on 2012-10-25 16:01:40
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