ReMix: Xenogears "Aveh Mountain Breakdown"
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BRILLIANT! One of my favorite arrangements so far in 2016 comes from Doc Nano (Alex Johnson-Buck), who teams up with Chris Woo on violin for a totally unexpected & completely wonderful bluegrass hoedown arrangement of "Aveh" from Xenogears:
"I submitted an embryonic version of this a few months ago before hastily withdrawing it. Must have been annoying to you all, but I'm really glad I did it, as Chris and I teamed up to produce what I feel is a much better piece. Anyway, down to the details...
Imagine a troupe of musicians riding with a caravan through the desert in a foreign land. It's before dawn, and they've already been traveling for several hours when the blazing sun finally appears over the dunes, revealing a great craggy mountain cradling the bustling city of Aveh. This song is their impression of that moment - their first contact with an exotic imperial capital - through the lens of their own familiar folk traditions.
Chris played the violin, lending the only real musicianship to the mix. All other sounds come from S90 ES, and the sequencing and mixing were done in Ableton Live. Despite the largely digital instrumentation, we strove for an energetic, organic acoustic sound. Hope you all find it interesting, even if bluegrass isn't your cup of tea! Thanks for considering our mix!"
This is Doc N's fifth posted mix, and we didn't feature anything from him last year, but DAMN it's good to see him back! I'm glad he pulled his original version and got Chris involved for this, because it's the type of genre that does benefit from whatever live musicianship you can muster. REALLY fun, dynamic stuff that handles tradeoffs effectively, exercises restraint, and just clicks in a way that makes my inner arranger smile. Who would have thought to tackle this source in this genre? To me this is a completely unobvious genre/source pairing... that works ohhhh so well! Never would have thought of it in a zillion years, but I'm certainly glad Alex did; the narrative backstory provided helps set the scene and explains how the notion came about. Larry writes:
"Even if a genre isn't one's cup of tea, having the right game as a gateway gets some fans to open up to an arrangement approach out of their comfort zone; I'm sure there may be those who don't wanna hear banjos, but would give this a shot with it taking on the Xenogears soundtrack, in this case "Aveh, the Ancient Dance," a more upbeat version of the familiar "Bonds of Sea and Flame." And, really, who wouldn't at least appreciate this approach - what a light, relaxing, and refreshing take on Aveh! Despite some of the sequencing being tight, the overall premise and execution were excellent, and Chris | Amaterasu performing his violin is always sure to be a highlight to any piece. Props to Alex & Chris for a bouncy yet understated and chill arrangement. It demonstrates how fun it can be to drastically change the mood of a source tune!"
Really great stuff; the type of arrangement I see OCR as being especially interested in encouraging, where it's not intuitive, it's certainly transformative, it involves risks on the part of the artists involved, but it all works out in the end. I love this source, we've heard it many different & compelling ways over the years, but this was a form and style I never would have anticipated, but which I can totally get into and which can almost serve as a kind of apology to bluegrass itself for my own personal effort from days of yore ;) Mad props to Alex & Chris for this; memorable, creative, well-executed, and fun!
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