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OCR01488 - *YES* Star Fox 64 'V to the X Power'

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DZComposer (Forum UID: 26798)

Adan Leal

dzcomposer@classicalhorn.com

http://www.classicalhorn.com

Game: Star Fox 64

Song: Sector X

Composer: Hajime Wakai

Link:

Comments: V to the X power is a somewhat minimalist orchestral arrangement of the Sector X BGM from Star Fox 64.

Game Info:

Star Fox 64:

system:: Nintendo 64

developer: Nintendo EAD

publisher: Nintendo

Composers: Hajime Wakai (level BGMs); Koji Kondo (Cutscene BGMs) USF soundtrack: http://www.halleyscometsoftware.com/usf/

Release Date: Apr 27, 1997

The V stands for Vibraphone! This piece is a Vibraphone feature (bowed vibes included!). The X stands for Sector X.

I've always loved the vibraphone. The metallic, vibratic sound that can be so mysterious, happy, or swingish! This piece doesn't go into swing though.

The reason for the psuedo-minimalism is to convey the mysterious feeling from the Sector X level. You arrive at Sector X to destroy an enemy base to find that someone beat you there and destroyed it first! So, you search the area looking for signs of what happened.

The song doesn't go into the Boss battle.

This piece uses standard orchesral instruments. I used the Garritan Personal Orchestra and the Virtual Drumline 2.

One thing I used a lot is the "sizzle-suck" cymbal rudiment. The Sizzle-suck is a very light crash followed by a hard choke. The Sizzle-suck sounds a lot like a Hi-Hat, but it doesn't have the hard sound of a stick. Very common in Marching Band cymbal lines, but rare in the concert setting.

I also used bowed vibes. Bowed vibes is when you take a cello or bass bow and physically bow the bars of a vibraphone. This produces the Vibes sound without the impact of a mallet, creating an almost pad-like sound.

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http://www.zophar.net/usf/sf64usf.rar - 15 "Sector X"

Yeah, I remembered this theme from a little while ago, since TO's also mixed it, albeit with more Starship Troopers samples in there. I liked vibraphone used in the intro, displaying a similarity to the instrumentation of the original. Picks up at :34 with a fairly straightforward arrangement of the original. Samples aren't that hot or realistic, but they're put together reasonably well.

1:15 brought something new and more interpretive on the arrangement side, though the effects on the vibraphone are mudding up the track. Moved over into some strings handling the arranged melody. Don't really like the brass at 2:21 sounding relatively dry compared to the nice delay on the others instruments, as it made them seem like they weren't in the same spacey atmosphere.

The brass at the foundation of the 2:49-3:21 section REALLY sounded like it needed more body/richness, and didn't fill out the track adequately. The writing tries to sound powerful, but the brass doesn't have the processing on it to get the job done and have it translate to the listener.

Better stuff back to the vibraphone lead at 3:22-3:39. Adan pulls off a fairly simplistic soundscape well, not leaving things bone dry and empty, but at the same time allowing the simpler construction here to provide genuine contrast with other sections of the arrangement. That's the right way to go about it.

3:39-4:53 had several short sections, featuring some good periodic instrument changes to keep things interesting before amping things up for the closing section at 4:57. Ending cuts off suddenly at 5:25, so we need a fix on that.

Much like Adan's first mix here, the samples and production leave something to be desired in terms of realism. A richer feel for some of the more synthetic-sounding instruments could have been cool. There are any times here where a denser soundscape would have been more appealing, and dare I say substantive, but the minimalist instrumentation approach here was handled pretty well regardless.

The arrangement here was pretty sharp, doing a lot of creative, interpretive things with the "Sector X" variations, making use of a lot of good instrument combinations, and developing well over its 5+ minutes. On that level, this piece gets the job done. It sizzles, but it doesn't suck.

YES

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As far as I know, this guy uses mostly GPO which is actually a pretty solid sample library when used well. I've heard some great stuff out of it. I'd say that it's not being used POORLY here, but perhaps not to its full potential. This is strictly speaking in terms of the production values. However, I've heard much worse and I think this passes our bar in that area so it's not a primary concern to me. In terms of arrangement and structure this is somewhat reminiscent of Israfel's style. It's definitely not huge and dramatic the whole time but it's not supposed to be. The thematic variations are good, as are the transitions, and the piece as a whole flows well and has a solid form. No complaints in that area.

It's refreshing to hear a relatively unique approach to orchestral mixes like this, good job.

YES

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good arrangement. one of the stronger elements of this piece is the use of dynamic contrast. the transitions from piano to fortissimo are engaging, emotional, and very well done.

this is well above the bar.

one of the few things i have issue with is that it sounds like a brick has been strapped to the vibraphone's sustain pedal, especially on some of the longer 16th note runs. i don't know if that's a limitation of the sample or if it's a matter of personal taste.

anyway, a minor issue.

YES

i enjoyed this.

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The samples used here aren't the best I've ever heard. However, the arrangement is excellent, and the ReMix is very dynamic and interesting to listen to. It's due to those two factors that I say

YES

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