ReMix: Castlevania "Swing When You're Killing"
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Nostalvania follows up his previous & superb solo piano Castlevania II ReMix with a jazz ensemble mix of the first Castlevania, continuing to make a case for the second half of his pseudonym AND for his ability to concoct catchy, crafty, & creative jazz interpretations of VGM classics:
"It's a jazz remix with piano, bass, guitar (1:18) and vibraphone (2:39). I hope you like it."
Indeed it is, sir, and indeed I do. Bass is of the upright acoustic variety, and he DOES take it for a walk, plus there's a BODACIOUS VIBRAPHONE SOLO (doesn't really work as well as "rad timbale licks," does it?), with guitar doing short chords that almost end up sounding more like an EP part at points. Bottom line? Well, aside from the gratuitous "You've never heard "Vampire Killer" quite like this!!" catchphrase, I dig that Markus can do ensemble jazz writing just as well as solo piano stuff, and the interplay between piano, vibes, bass, et al is spot on. Chimpazilla writes:
"WOW... I never expected to hear this source done this way! Really unique take on this source, and Markus can make anything sound smooth and jazzy. Very impressive!"
"I liked Markus mentioning the additions of the other instruments; the dynamic & textural shifts he employed never stopped, whether it was the understated change of the backing guitar addition or the totally different lead when he switched to vibraphone. Also, UPRIGHT BASS! There's nothing like that telltale sound hitting your ears to let you know you're in store for an excellent jazz piece. As usual, Nostalvania delivers big-time with an excellent arrangement concept from his namesake series. :-)
By the way, I'll stress this again, because people seem to be hypocritical when a ReMix is a less accessible genre like metal, rap, or dubstep instead of a fan-favorite genre like orchestral or jazz: creative VGM arrangements that don't fit the mood of the original music or "wouldn't fit in the game" are always cool and valid. Just because you can't drop a lounge jazz piece into Castlevania's NES gameplay doesn't mean it's a bad arrangement; OC ReMixes are standalone interpretations outside of the context of the games, so don't be a close-minded VGM fan - keep your mind (and ears) open!"
Testify; while explicitly approaching an arrangement with the goal of "maintaining the original vibe" or making something that "would work in the actual game" can yield amazing results, part of our mission at OCR is to prove the timelessness & universality of these melodies. The key is whether an adaptation works musically on its own, not thematically relative to the game, in other words. I think of OCR as a music site that focuses on video games, not the other way around, and thus keeping an open mind to unlikely, surprising, or highly transformative arrangements that still work on a fundamentally musical level is something near & dear to me. This is something that can take a while to click for some listeners, and perhaps never sinks in for others, but it broadens the horizons of what can be done and the power & possibility VGM can offer, so yeah... we think it's pretty critical :)
But back to the track at hand; great work as always, and I especially like how the part-writing changes up based on what's going on. Absence of drums doesn't bother me too much, although I'd love to see Markus work in a drum solo at some point in the future, should the occasion present itself. It's not quite the same as a solo piano piece, but each instrument is still exposed enough that you can easily focus on it and what it's doing, and the interactions really flow. Killing vampires never sounded so... smooth!!
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