ReMix: Chrono Trigger 'Islands in the Sky'
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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.
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