ReMix: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past "Dark Storm"
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Larry Oji writes:
"When you started, did you ever dream you'd get this far?"
Of course, I've answered that question before, and the truth has always been that while I DID think the idea had potential and could grow quite a bit, I never would have dreamed that I'd be sitting here, almost fifteen years later, posting #OCR03000. Numbers are just numbers, but even though there's no real substantive significance to three thousand numbered mixes, just as with the passing of each new calendar year or each birthday, it still seems like a big deal. But let's dig a bit further and answer the question, in true armchair-psychologist fashion, with another question:
"...how far ARE we??"
I use the pronoun "we" because the question's premise is a bit flawed; OCR succeeds on the strength of its community and contributors. Granted, the buck does stop with me, and sometimes I feel like I'm more willing to accept responsibility for any of our shortcomings than I am to take credit for our accomplishments. I'm thinking that's probably a good thing, in the long run. At any rate, I think we HAVE come pretty far, by most numerical measures. It's the intangibles that I'm prouder of, though, personally:
- We've released a ton of great music, much of which was directly influenced by or benefited from the community. Beyond sheer quantity, it's the collaborations, the interpretive arrangements, the community projects, and the mixes that are revised & improved based on panel feedback that tell a story more specific to OCR's existence.
- Many of the people that have participated to varying extents at different points in time are still friends today; some are even married. Whatever else happens - and the future is bright - it's always going to be motivating to me to think of the relationships that the site has facilitated.
- I believe we've been a positive influence both on individual game composers and on the larger perception & recognition of video game music as an art form.
- We have persevered, remaining operational and expanding/improving the site, for almost fifteen years. Being around a long time in and of itself shouldn't convey automatic bragging rights, but being active the entire time, gradually building on the site's foundations, and upholding our principles while expanding our scope has been a massive challenge, and it's one we've consistently risen to.
There's a famous photo of George W. Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier with a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him. We all know how THAT turned out... I actually think our mission is rather perpetual, and therefore cannot be fully "accomplished" in any meaningful sense, but in the absence of any quantitative data, I'll just say that I think we've come pretty damn far & made a pretty big dent.
We've had big plans for a long while now. Getting back to taking responsibility for our shortcomings, it's taken longer than we anticipated to realize many of these plans, and that's on me. In my defense, we've remained fully active the entire time - it's MUCH harder to hit a moving target. I'd also argue that being deliberate about policy changes and site features has contributed to our stability and perseverance. That being said, there is such a thing as being TOO deliberate. We've gotten some AMAZING support via Patreon, it's opening doors for us, and know that we are working on everything we have publicly stated & plenty of other stuff that we hope will be a pleasant surprise.
Moving on to the mix; ironically, one of the reasons I originally started OCR was to make more music myself. Of all the original motivations & goals surrounding my efforts behind the site, this one has suffered the most in recent years. I have put my time and energy into operating and improving the site - hopefully to the benefit of all, but inarguably at the expense of my own free time for making music. I'm hoping to turn that around a bit by optimizing my workflow and also keeping in mind that my personal motivation & enthusiasm for all things OCR will benefit from being more of a musical participant. Wish me luck!
I've had this arrangement floating around in my head since at least 2010, possibly earlier. It can be summed up in a single clickbait-style headline, so I'm going to:
"What if The Doors had recorded "Dark World" in the style of "Riders on the Storm"?!?"
Hence "Dark Storm" - wasn't feeling punnerific, so it's a pretty intuitive title :) Besides, Makke has that covered with his Doors-inspired "Nemesis the Doorlock," which comes highly recommended. First things first, I need to credit RHumphries at Freesound for the excellent storm sample, which was JUST long enough to use without looping/stretching. I feel like this arrangement is almost a collaboration with the weather he recorded that day, as the larger thunder claps lined up in relative serendipity with key moments. The Doors didn't have a bass player - Manzarek usually covered bass parts on keys - and the undulating EP bassline from "Riders" remains largely intact, altered for the progression. You'll probably want to turn the volume up a bit, as mastering this to modern levels was a little problematic. There are some vintage/modeling components in the signal chain, and the overall aesthetic is what I would call "dated" :) What ultimately made this mix possible was Archtop, by Impact Soundworks. It's my favorite library to date from ISW, and even if I didn't know who the heck Andrew Aversa was, I'd STILL be singing its praises. While some Real Actual Guitar Players™ will scoff, I happen to love the sound, and am happy with how it turned out, w/ NI's Guitar Rig 5 "Vintage Slapback" effect applied. With regards to rock, we usually get hard rock on the site, or metal, or prog, but I'm personally a huge fan of classic rock, which is harder to pin down but generally has a more vintage sound & more melodic focus. This is me trying to do that, and it's not easy. There are actually three EPs here, and all of them are Applied Acoustics' Lounge Lizard. Great plugin. I also didn't use Cubase for this piece, for a change; I picked up Presonus StudioOne when it was on sale, and it's very similar to Cubase while being a bit more streamlined and having a better multi-monitor implementation, for my money.
From an arrangement perspective, loosening up & slowing down Kondo's original was the core concept, and from these tweaks a style not unlike The Doors followed. I decided to double down and just go for something that straight up channeled "Riders on the Storm," especially since the source "verse" made for an EP motif that made sense for that particular vibe. The intro descending EP shimmer, with some warm distortion applied, and passages from the electric guitar part both have nods to "Riders on the Storm," but the base progression has been altered to keep it coming back to "Dark World," which should hopefully be apparent. After 4+ years of bouncing around in my head, I was just happy to be able to sit down and MAKE this mix happen, and having the right guitar and to a lesser extent EP sounds was a big part of that. It's a short piece, but it effectively conveys an arrangement idea that I think is worthwhile & which deserved to be made, which is my personal litmus test. Thanks for listening & thanks for supporting OCR during its first THREE THOUSAND MIXES - here's to the next 3K! We do this two more times and I get to make the obligatory "OVER NINE-THOUSAND!!" joke, which at that point no will remember, including me!
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