ReMix: Donkey Kong Country "Where's the Ocean, Andrew?"

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Donkey Kong Country

Coming to MAGFest in January?? We sure hope you are!! In addition to TONS (not a hyperbole - if you added them all up, it'd literally weigh tons) of VGM bands, Yuzo Koshiro, Kinuyo Yamashita, Chris Huelsbeck and MORE (!!), not only will OC ReMix be there w/ our customary panel, but it will mark the stage debut of OverClocked University, OCR's official live band!! Previously performing as "OCR Live" during our panel intros, the guys & gals are takin' it to the stage for a standalone performance that should rock more than a few socks - catch 'em on Friday, Jan. 4th @ 4:00PM and get schooled!!

BUT DON'T JUST TAKE *OUR* WORD FOR IT... I'm happy to be posting their first OFFICIAL ReMix under the OCRU moniker, a sweet rock jam arrangement from DKC, to give you but a taste of their many delicious flavors - Stevo writes:

"I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan, as I've admitted to on many occasions. They're the primary influence for the style of this track, though it is also influenced by a number of post-rock and alt-rock folks. This is the second arrangement I've made for OverClocked University, and it's by far one of the strongest, I feel. Some amazing interplay between the lead guitar (Andrew) and violin (Amy), harmonizing at times and at others going off in different directions. The bridge is from 'Life in the Mines' from DKC, a nice change from the mellow Aquatic Ambiance that makes up the rest of the song. Deia does a great job holding things steady on the bass, and I hold the rhythmic fort down by playing the guitar arps through most of the song."

Great stuff, especially those lead harmonies - while watching Andrew, Stevo, Amy & Deia perform at conventions like Otakon, PAX, and MAG has been amazing, the challenging acoustics and last-minute realities of setting up for live music in panel rooms hasn't let them shine quite like this. While the incorporation of more live components still makes this a little rougher than most of their individual mixes, there's an immediacy to the production & energy between musicians that doesn't tend to occur with solo/sequenced arrangements. From the supple-but-firm synth pad swells on the intro to the call-and-answer power-shreddage bromance at 2'34", it's a concise, focused mix that plays to the strengths of having live performers working together & develops nicely to a heavier climax. Great stuff, legendary source tune, and really cool to see OCRU performing at MAG 2013 - I'm personally looking forward to it, and we hope to see you there!

djpretzel

Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Necrox
on 2015-12-22 02:05:21

I feel like the violin doesn't really fit in this mix. It just doesn't mesh well with the other instruments IMO. Everything else sounds great though. The transition to Life in the Mines is sick. The guitar solo works well as a final blow. I wish there was more from Life, but good mix.

metamorphosis
on 2015-03-25 03:31:24

If Halc and The Distortionist's respective versions hadn't completely obliterated the landscape for this particular one, I'd give this a 5/5 - as it is, it's still great, but 4/5.

Thanks for the cool work.

Diodes
on 2012-11-10 17:18:25

I'm sure Amy will read this and start mentally kicking herself for not being perfectionist enough about her violin performance...

Actually no, I'm not, because I don't see a problem here. I personally don't feel that the goal is to make everything pitch perfect (esp. when you factor in vibrato), I believe that there is a certain amount of delta around the pitch that is an acceptable range, and for my personal taste, I was within that delta. For others whose delta may be narrower, I suppose I was not.

That is not to say that I think my pitch couldn't be better. I will continue to practice, and work on improving pitch accuracy (as well as all the other aspects of playing).

I would also like to say that I try not to take a perfectionistic attitude towards these things in general. It was my goal to enjoy contributing to the remix, do the best I could given time constraints, life circumstances, etc., and learn something, and I accomplished all of those things. I feel that this makes the experience more satisfying than if I sit around and beat myself up over every little thing I could have done better.

I got a lot of satisfaction out of doing this, and I'm grateful for the the opportunity. I love this remix; I think the writing is fantastic and I want to thank Stevo for it, and I think everybody did a great job.

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Dafydd
on 2012-11-10 01:22:09
Some could call it safe
That about sums the important points up, yeah.
The great thing about this is that any changes we make will be included in future live performances, so the possible flaws of the posted mix are not necessarily detracting from the song forever. [...] The more we practice and perform as a group, the tighter our a) timing B) tuning and c) chemistry will be. It may be hard to live up to the expectations that our credentials as musicians imply as we're fused together, but we're gonna keep pushing for it! I'm sure I'm about as sensitive to timing as others are to tuning, so I can understand the hypersensitivity being an issue.

Because it's a live track that you're going to be playing again and again, it's bound to also be a work-in-progress to some extent, but at the same time, it's an OCReMix, and the one posted here won't change over time, unlike your live performance. It almost sounds like you're apologizing now, and in the way you'd expect to see in a WiP thread, and it makes me feel a little bad. When I comment on mixes in general, I nearly always have something less-than-positive to say, and the reason I share my views isn't so the mix can be improved (too late for that when it's already posted) but to give the ReMixer something helpful to think about in the future, although I admit I don't often word it in a way that can be understood as such, especially when in juxtaposition to the often limitless praise that many others give... anyway, this time, what I first said about the tuning was more a reaction to the fact that no one else seemed to have noticed what I thought, at first listen, was a pretty big issue.

That said, I'm looking forward to hearing you grow tighter as a band, as well as future recordings of this very piece, where, hopefully, both soloists are on a longer leash! I understand what you're saying about the Floyd vibe (though afaik they're notorious for, if nothing else, their long and elaborate solos), but if I were you I'd get bored playing this exact arrangement for long, and you did leave plenty of room for more... fun :)

I can kinda sorta see where some people are hearing a violin tuning issue, but it's a product of it being a live performance.

It's hard to say this without sounding like a complete asshole, but, well, a live performance is no guarantee for tuning issues. I'm sure it won't be long until it's no longer an issue though, live or not! It's hard to say this without sounding condescending, but, while the violin is as tricky a wooden box as they come, history has seen a number of people nail it eventually (and they make tens of thousands of dollars a night, if not more, which is saying something). And again, hardly anyone seems to have noticed it wasn't perfectly in tune, so I should probably just shut up about it.

I'm sure Amy will read this and start mentally kicking herself for not being perfectionist enough about her violin performance
Or she can leave the aforementioned pain, and the perfectionism, to me. I mean, perfectionists are good to have around sometimes, but they're typically horribly unproductive. And they make poor band members.
Level 99
on 2012-11-09 23:34:59

Thanks to everyone who's gone further and elaborated on their feedback. I, and I'm sure the rest of the crew, would absolutely never take offense or think negatively of getting constructive criticism like this. As was said, some people had REALLY high expectations of this. I know my own personal goal with every mix I'm a part of is to meet exceed expectations, so even if a single person had a legitimate problem with a song, I like knowing why so that it can be taken into consideration for the next time (by that I mean something that isn't a bias, eg. vocal bias, genre bias, etc.).

The violin and guitar parts were originally penned by me and then modified heavily by their respective performers. They didn't stray terribly far from what I had written though, as I wanted the piece to feel very slow and deliberate with its melody usage. Some could call it safe, I would rather it be interpreted as how close I wanted to stick to my target influence. I really wanted that smooth, buttery Floyd vibe, especially with the violin/guitar interplay. You can blame me if Amy's part is too conservative, since she was going off of what I gave her. My violin arranging is not nearly what others can do, but as we do more we're learning more and I'm sure we'll all sit down to discuss more arrangement improvements. The great thing about this is that any changes we make will be included in future live performances, so the possible flaws of the posted mix are not necessarily detracting from the song forever.

I can kinda sorta see where some people are hearing a violin tuning issue, but it's a product of it being a live performance. Even if the violin were autotuned out the ass, sure it would potentially meld better with the guitar tuning, but it would lose a lot of its personality. I'm sure Amy will read this and start mentally kicking herself for not being perfectionist enough about her violin performance, so whether or not she's going to try to improve upon it in the future is kinda moot since she is already doing so. The more we practice and perform as a group, the tighter our a) timing B) tuning and c) chemistry will be. It may be hard to live up to the expectations that our credentials as musicians imply as we're fused together, but we're gonna keep pushing for it! I'm sure I'm about as sensitive to timing as others are to tuning, so I can understand the hypersensitivity being an issue.

All the feedback has been respectful, nothing has been seen as unfriendly or petty, and I truly thank everyone for taking the time to leave their impressions here.

At the University, everyone is still learning.

Dafydd
on 2012-11-09 23:07:31
Obviously I dig it, but w/ regard to the "out-of-tune" comment, I *will* say that I think some vibrato on the solo violin would have 1. sounded nice and 2. avoided any real OR perceived pitch issues. Then again, I love me some vibrato, so maybe that's just my answer to everything...

It's funny, because this was my only gripe with "A hint of blue", where the long, nearly vibrato-less notes felt kind of dead, which was a shame. By contrast, the violin does have vibrato nearly all the time. For some reason though, it seems to be a volume vibrato (as on a vibraphone) moreso than a pitch vibrato (I don't know how that's even possible on a violin, but there it is)... The guitar here has much more vibrato than does the violin.

By the way, "Riptide" is 5 years old already? 8-O Feels like it was on the front page only last year or so. Jesus.

djpretzel
on 2012-11-09 22:10:45

Obviously I dig it, but w/ regard to the "out-of-tune" comment, I *will* say that I think some vibrato on the solo violin would have 1. sounded nice and 2. avoided any real OR perceived pitch issues. Then again, I love me some vibrato, so maybe that's just my answer to everything...

Argle
on 2012-11-09 16:03:51
Part of my reaction has to do with the fact that my expectations were through the roof knowing this was the work of 3 panel judges and one additional established mixer.

I think this also explains my reaction as well. Maybe I'm out in left field. That's entirely possible.

Dafydd
on 2012-11-09 11:28:18
Beg your pardon? What sounds out of tune? If by mutes did you mean bends, the strings being bent out of note and back in for effect?

No, by mutes I mean palm mutes. Those are awesome. It's the lead guitar and violin that, here and there, are almost painfully out of tune (this is coming from a fairly hypersensitive person, I should probably add). I can barely hear it in my headphones, but on speakers, it's very noticeable several times during 1:20 - 1:40 and elsewhere, and especially at 1:29.

Also, while by design this style was not supposed to be something that's never been heard before in music, it was something I feel has not been fully captured in other Aquatic Ambiance remixes (the lush pad backing, the violin/guitar interplay, the inclusion of Life in the Mines, etc.). So I guess I'm wondering what you meant by "never heard before".
Well, I think I was mainly referring to how most mixes of this theme seem to keep roughly the same genre, same semi-ambient feel as the source, the same tempo and so on. Most people are perfectly fine with that, and I for one don't mind mixes that stay true to the original in general, but it's almost like Aquatic Ambience is becoming the new Ice Cap Zone (I've probably heard a bunch of WiPs that sound similar to this as well, so that, while none of your fault, might be why I'm so jaded). And to exaggerate somewhat, for the majority of this mix, it's the original theme with drums and a violin on top, and for the better part of 0:50 - 2:30 the entire arrangement besides the two lead instruments is as if on autopilot (an issue I've seen several judges take with a lot of submissions through the years), and even the lead instruments mostly don't really do anything interesting.
I'm also wondering what everyone's comments about the "lack of confidence" or "tacking on" of the violin are based off of. Would really like to hear more explanation of that so that Amy and I can potentially change the part for our live performances if that specific criticism is commonplace.

I think part of the problem is the long notes, and how it sounds slow even during the faster parts. Something more marcato would probably have been fitting there. You know that little, decorative extra note the lead guitar plays at 2:22? Some more of that would have been nice, especially for the violin (it does it at times, but too rarely). The lead guitar has little fills and ad libs, like at 2:06 and 2:33, and 3:12, and the violin plays straight, long, easy notes like at 2:17. The one time the violin tries to show off is at 1:45, and it needs to do something similar more often. Something more complex, inspired or ostentatious here and there would have really made a difference, I think.

I'm not trying to counter criticism, but I would like to know more so that we can improve if it is something that merits attention :-o
If someone had issues with a mix of mine as foggily described as mine were with yours, I'd be equally eager for them to elaborate. Considering how most other people are euphoric about this mix, though, whatever issues I have with it can safely be ignored. Part of my reaction has to do with the fact that my expectations were through the roof knowing this was the work of 3 panel judges and one additional established mixer.

This is all intended to be constructive criticism, btw, and I hope I'm not coming off as unfriendly or anything...

SwordBreaker
on 2012-11-09 09:31:37

Edit: I'm also wondering what everyone's comments about the "lack of confidence" or "tacking on" of the violin are based off of. Would really like to hear more explanation of that so that Amy and I can potentially change the part for our live performances if that specific criticism is commonplace.

And thank to everyone for their comments and feedback, we all appreciate it very much!

It's just that the violin feels that it's placed on top of the track, safely following the rhythm of the guitars. The playing itself is okay, but I don't feel it's special enough or highlighted enough. Listen to Wanderer on the Offensive for a better example. I would've loved more interplay between the violin and guitars, each tackling a different portion of the track.

Hopefully that sounds helpful and isn't too vague for you. I don't want to come off as a pretentious American Idol type judge. :P

Keep up the good work, guys!

Level 99
on 2012-11-09 09:12:20
I like the guitar mutes... but seriously. Am I the only one that's bothered by stuff being out of tune?

EDIT: I also didn't feel like there was anything in this arrangement that I haven't heard before.

Beg your pardon? What sounds out of tune? If by mutes did you mean bends, the strings being bent out of note and back in for effect?

Also, while by design this style was not supposed to be something that's never been heard before in music, it was something I feel has not been fully captured in other Aquatic Ambiance remixes (the lush pad backing, the violin/guitar interplay, the inclusion of Life in the Mines, etc.). So I guess I'm wondering what you meant by "never heard before".

I'm not trying to counter criticism, but I would like to know more so that we can improve if it is something that merits attention :-o

Edit: I'm also wondering what everyone's comments about the "lack of confidence" or "tacking on" of the violin are based off of. Would really like to hear more explanation of that so that Amy and I can potentially change the part for our live performances if that specific criticism is commonplace.

And thank to everyone for their comments and feedback, we all appreciate it very much!

Dafydd
on 2012-11-06 19:42:55

I like the guitar mutes... but seriously. Am I the only one that's bothered by stuff being out of tune?

EDIT: I also didn't feel like there was anything in this arrangement that I haven't heard before.

MechaFone
on 2012-11-06 16:48:29

Fantastic! Really lost myself listening to this in the beginning, and the rest made me want to rock out. \m/ . \m/

Crulex
on 2012-11-06 13:43:44

OCU! Sounds amazing to me, but really, with some of the best ReMixers on two of the best tracks from one of the best games, can you really sa otherwise? I guess you could, but I sure don't see it. The Aquatic bits were just as gorgeous as they should be, and I could hear the Pink Floyd influence (great choice on that, BTW). Going to just say it, I fell in love with the Life in the Mines part. I've always had a soft spot for it ever since I heard Echoes on the Kongs in Concert album. This is a great debut track for OCU. It's such a great mix of beauty and epicness, and I'll be replaying this for quite a long time.

Argle
on 2012-11-06 10:09:22
My only critique is the violin. In theory, it would sound epic in a rock sound...but for some reason, it just doesn't mesh right for me in this track. Feels a bit mechanical and thrown on top just for the sake of it.

The violin sounds kind of timid to me, lacking confidence. Pretty nice track overall, though.