ReMix: Secret of Mana "Curious"
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It's the 20th Anniversary of Secret of Mana! One of the most memorable RPGs (and soundtracks) of the 16-bit era was released in Japan twenty years ago today, and here to mark the occasion is newcomer Melodious Punk (Kevin Fredericks; nice pun) with a very mellow, acoustic/ambient jam - he describes it better than I do:
"A remix of Secret of Mana with a focus on fretless bass, thick percussive textures, and timbrally understated melody. I admire the richness of Kikuta's tracks, and "A Curious Tale" has some fantastic melodies, as well as some very delicate interplay with timbre and tonality, particularly in the modulations that pop up in the second half of the tune. I love the idea of this music's place in the story, as the player's expectations are thwarted by the peacefulness of the "evil empire", so I made a soundscape with lots of listener freedom. Musically, I felt the bass line of this song is the most interesting part to play, so it was a lot of fun modifying the bass melody around very distinct chord changes while keeping it sonically transparent. That way, the melody on the guitars and synths could be equally understated, and the listener might hopefully find their attention shifting around the different instruments, perhaps simulating the aura of exploration which the game exemplifies."
Very thoughtful comments, and the mix reflects this attention to context & focus on nuance. Acoustic (right) & electric (left) guitar are prominent, beats are vaguely Latin and have some really cool watery/squishy effects added in - the whole piece has this underwater/subterranean vibe going on, like everyone's hanging out and chilling in a giant, happy cave somewhere. The electric guitar has a certain twang to it, almost Hawaiian at times. Overall, the texture is so unique and so pervasive that it's hard not to be carried away a bit, but Kevin's put a lot of thought into the arrangement itself as well. The resubbed version of this track fixed some minor production beefs and made the judges happy, including Nutritious, who had the chance to hang out with Kevin IRL and catch a live performance of this very mix:
"First I have to say, it was a pleasure getting to meet up and hang out with Kevin at the Reno Game Expo this past weekend. For those who don't know, he is one of the directors for the Reno Game Symphony and was the man behind the Expo. The guy is a class act and did everything he could to make it a positive and fun experience for everyone.
This also gave me the opportunity to hear a live take on this theme by Kevin's group the Tomo Club. This source tune is one of my favorites from Secret of Mana, so it was a real treat. Speaking of this mix, it's not the same as the one I heard live, but I'm really digging the arrangement approach on this one. Loving the performances as well as the overall vibe here. Sound is very clean and production is solid (I'm only hearing the remaster, not the original).
Nice work. Hoping to hear more from you in the future."
Strongly ditto that; impressive that Kevin's been able to balance making music with coordinating these events. Sounds like I gotta get out to Reno some time, myself, and check it all out. Very cool debut mix that oozes with character, just like the entire SoM soundtrack. We were honored to meet & speak with Hiroki Kikuta at Otakon a few years back, he's every bit as awesome as you might expect, and I think it's a testament to the quality AND quantity of music he poured into the Seiken Densetsu games he scored that their soundtracks are still resonating with gamers two decades later! Happy birthday, SoM!
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