Posted 2018-10-09, evaluated by Liontamer
We end our initial flood of selections from Seiken Densetsu 3: Songs of Light and Darkness with a fitting piece from co-director Meteo Xavier, which feels like a blend of The Nutcracker Suite & the music from several Cirque du Soleil shows - vivid, imaginative, transporting, and... Russo-French, I guess? It's the victory jingle turned into a cinematic march, bookended by glowing, comfortable blankets of EP/bell & verb ambient ballad. What helps seal the wide-eyed wonderment aesthetic deal is the use of ambient sound FX; this almost makes the piece sound like something you'd hear at an immersive park attraction of some sort, but that's actually pretty damn cool, at least to me. He writes:
"This was my start into what became a major, decade-long involvement with the largest-sized project I've ever had an administrative hand in. I had no idea at the time that this track would shoehorn me into the 2nd main director's position for a pretty (in)famous piece of OC ReMix history. So many things happened in that time period, so many obstacles to get this awesome-but-difficult project to its proper resolution. From there to right here, as I re-listen to the incredible master so I can do my notes on them, it's been a long and wild ride that I couldn't say I'd do again, but I'm at least proud I got to do it at all.
I don't remember what inspired me to go the direction I did here. I made this track with the concept of it being a literal "dream of victory" for the heroes. They've come this far, they're already exhausted, and they drift off to sleep where they see the end of a huge battlefield, fought alongside the compatriots they couldn't bring with them on the journey proper, a rousing toast to victory, and then a sudden jolt of waking up and finding out, alas, it was just a dream. But the dream gives a glimmer of hope all the same, the hour is still night, and the dreamer nods back off to dreamland to finish their drink.
I don't typically do music quite like this anymore, to some disappointment, and even though I still wish I could've improved this mix more if I thought it would be 2018 before it would come out, I'm proud of it all the same. Weaving in so many different song locals one after the other I don't even remember how to do. I had this weird little ambient SFX of some sort of village get-together somewhere and I had it fade in and out to make it an accurate flow of dream items. That one really strong original melody just before the breakdown was, I kid you not, like 13 instruments all layered in because I'm crazy like that. The pizzicato plucking section was inspired from Secret of Mana's general sound and a few songs from there, and then I wanted it to go right back to the beginning to symbolize the dream beginning again as the dreamer nodded off."
Without reading a word of what Jeff wrote about the concept of this piece, his entire description of it was clear from the music alone, as I listened. That's some pretty coherent musical storytelling; you could argue that the sound FX make this narrative arc somewhat obvious, but the touch of sadness in the realization that this is just a dream comes through, too. This also reminds me vaguely of children's music, which I guess some people might view as a criticism or charge of triviality? They'd be dead wrong in my book: some amazing, creative musical geniuses working on media for children... in decades past, too. At any rate, the idea being that the concept, structure, & execution here are not only imaginative, but they engage the imagination... as if the listener is in a realm that is fantastical or otherwise particular. SD3:SLD director Rozovian writes:
"The victory jingle isn't a big track in the soundtrack, but it plays fairly often. Here, Meteo uses it to invoke something more epic, not just the defeat of a monster and the personal heroics of the heroes, but something with consequences for the whole world. It's as if he wanted a source like "Delicate Affection" but couldn't get it, so he put all that inspiration into a different, appropriate track. Is that a problem? Nope, not at all. I like the greatly expanded takes on tiny sources that some people manage to pull off, and this is no exception. Even with the sound effects. My favorite moment has to be when the track calms down at around the 2-minute mark, bringing in the lead melody of bells. And there's an overall sense of 80's synths that bookends the track."
Well said; ambient sound effects don't bother me by default, but I do think their use requires consideration & their application requires care. I've spent most of this writeup talking about the dream-time/wonder aesthetic this mix explores, and I think the use of sound effects under this umbrella is cogent & well-executed. This is a mix that transports you & paints not one but many pictures, a montage of slumber, fascination, celebration, and realization. Songs of Light and Darkness is, true to its name, an album of contrasts; Rozovian & Meteo steered it to achieve this aural chiaroscuro successfully, and their respective contributions reflect that passion & perseverance. Superb work on this piece from Jeff, and a job well done - legit worth the wait, which is SAYING something - to everyone involved!
Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Ballad, Cinematic, March
- Bells, Electric Piano, Hand Drums, Harp, Orchestral, Piano, Strings
- 5,760,568 bytes
- Size: 5,760,568 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: d0845c2a23b78ec40216cdc1eb8e6e04
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