ReMix: Wild Arms 'A Morning at the Abbey'
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Archangel follows up his FF5 debut from last year with another straight orchestral piece, from Wild Arms: ARMed & DANGerous, featuring TONS of woodwind work. Oboe, bassoon, and bass clarinet aren't just relegated to bit parts, counter-melodies, or brief cadenzas, they're a mainstay of this light, playful arrangement that has a bit of well-timed holiday spirit to it & also works in some woodblock, harp, pizzicato & legato strings, and various other symphonic elements. Brass players took the day off or are perhaps on an extended lunch break, but (sacrilege, coming from an ex-euphonium player) I actually think this piece works better sans horns - it keeps things a little smaller and more incidental. Jaka describes his inspiration:
"I chose to make an arrangement of the Abbey track. I was a little worried because the source is only 45 seconds long. I had never before worked with such a short piece, but as it turns out, 45 seconds is more than enough to make a nice little ditty.
I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the game at all, so I had to do a little research. It's a good thing that the track is played at the beginning of the game. It wasn't hard to find some videos on Youtube, just to get the feel of the place where you can hear it. A simple, peaceful community of, uhm, magic users and their teachers, I guess--GOD, the fanboys will have me skinned alive for this! Anyway, it all seemed very cartoonish to me, almost like an introduction to an old-school animated movie. I imagined Cecilia, the protagonist, waking up in the morning, realizing that she's late for class and getting dressed in a hurry, then running down the stairs and through the numerous hallways of the Abbey while the movie credits roll. The camera follows her and shows some typical morning scenes at the Abbey--a cat chasing a mouse in the hallway, a clumsy, absent-minded librarian dropping a huge stack of books, a young maid getting water from the well, a group of children playing with a dog in the courtyard, and so on. You all know the drill. As the track ends, Cecilia finally reaches the classroom. Then she takes a deep breath and fixes her hair one more time before entering."
Nice backstory; I see it. I appreciate not only the variety of orchestral percussion employed, but the way it's all integrated & doesn't seem superfluous - on the contrary, chimes, block, bell, and mallets all embellish and enrich both melody and accompaniment. Very classy and well done, as are the grace notes and flourishes on the wind parts that grant them a certain levity. Emunator writes:
"I'm gonna keep this pretty short because it's pretty clear to me that the production here is above the bar and the source usage definitely checks out to me as well. It's plenty personalized thanks to some really delicate, creative supporting instrumentation and variations on the melody. Cute concept too!"
Wild Arms was an amazing album to me because even relatively unassuming mixes like this were aboslutely top notch; Jaka did an excellent job making this arrangement interesting, ensuring that each instrument had a place and meaning and something to contribute, and creating a narrative story that's whimsical and light while musically quite substantive. Great work, wonderful to see another mix posted from an artist with Formidable Orchestral Chops, a close relation to the Killer Studio variety!