ReMix: Final Fantasy VI "Slam Davis"
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So dark, so grimy, so brilliant.... so Mazedude! This is one of my favorite mixes from Chris to date, and he's got a LOT, so that's truly saying something. Live trumpet adds a whole new dimension to his sound, but beyond that, this is a more sinister side of MZD that we haven't seen as much of; muted trumpet is greasy as all get-out, synth bass is filthy and cannot be bothered with hygiene, and they're both conspiring in a dimly-lit musical alley, breaking who knows how many laws. It's seedy, it's raunchy, and you'll want to take a shower when it's all over, but damn if Chris doesn't set a VERY specific mood with conviction & authenticity. I'm talking atmosphere, people, with plenty to go around. zircon writes:
"Zozo is a pretty seedy and shady location in Final Fantasy VI, something that I think Mazedude captured perfectly in his take on the theme. I absolutely love the "swampy" feel, the infusion of organic jazz elements, and Mazedude's trademark ability to turn lots of disparate and seemingly-random elements into something really cohesive and unique. I've said before that the point of this project was to stick to the mood and vibe of the original tracks; this remix is a shining example of how we achieved that goal."
Shady is right; this mix will steal your wallet if you turn your back on it. Chris gives us some background:
"A few things about this track... one, I worked in NYC as a waiter one summer during college. I drove from Jersey City, through the Holland Tunnel, to upper East Side Manhattan day after day. For a spell, to get me through the trip, I listened to the FF6 soundtrack while driving. The juxtaposition of NYC pedestrians against the FF6 music was... quite surreal. To imagine townsfolk walking around from an aerial view, while witnessing NYC townsfolk walking around on the sidewalks... was bizarre, trippy, and cool. It got me through the drive. And whenever the "Slam Shuffle" music came on in such a scenario, I couldn't help but grin as I drove.
Fast forward to this FF6 project, and I knew I wanted to tackle this particular track above all others. But what style to try? I had a few ideas in mind... Indian fusion was one, but it didn't work so well. Another concept was to mimic Miles Davis in some sort of acid jazz, featuring live trumpet. Quite a difficult concept to grasp with a computer, but I went for it... and it was sounding good. But, to make it really work, I needed a real trumpet player. To my good fortune, I was introduced to an incredible professional trumpet player, Jeff Stockham, via the local Syracuse, NY jazz band ESP (http://espjazz.wix.com/esp), and set a recording session, where thankfully, he got EXACTLY what I was going for. The recording session was a blast, and I am thrilled with the result."
Awesome; parts of the concept & texture here reminded me of Toshiyuki Honda's score to Metropolis, this seedy sort of jazz that relishes living in the underbelly of the city, reveling in relative squalor. I'm really glad Chris pursued getting Jeff to provide the live trumpet, as it seals the deal and really imbues the perfect organic component; also glad it was muted, ala Davis' signature sound, as that's perfect for this type of environment. While neither soaringly epic, aggressively brutal, nor unspeakably beautiful, Mazedude's contribution to Balance and Ruin overwhelms the listener on its own terms, excelling at presenting an insidious blend of sex, noir, dirt, & slinking, lurking threat. Visceral, brilliant, and completely singular; I'd have preferred a less obvious mix title, but that's the ONLY nit I can pick for a track that so effectively envelopes you in its world.