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Gario

OCR03717 - *YES* Secret of Mana "Together We Will Stand" *PROJECT*

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ReMixer & real name: Eino Keskitalo
e-mail: 
 
ReMixer: Jorito
e-mail: 

Name of game arranged:Secret of Mana
Name of Arrangement: Together We Will Stand
Name of original track: Together Always

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA-D1Tf6H6Q

MP3 link: 
FLAC link: 
 
Jorito's notes:

Eino was one of the very last people to claim a track and to check in. Since we've done quite a few collaborations already, I liked what I was hearing and Eino was quite strapped for time, I offered to help out. The whole process reminded me of the compo tracks we did, it's a very organic workflow and cranking out an enjoyable track in just a few days with a crazy deadline breathing down your neck is pretty much what we're used to.
 
This time around, my contributions were mostly in production and making some arrangement changes, but I also was able to sneak in some extra parts to spice things up. The foundation that Eino laid was also a great bed to do some creative experiments. I mean, how often do you get the chance to act as Sage Joch and steal his lines from the game script AND get to work on that one single track where using bagpipes actually makes sense? Turned out rather fun and interesting and maybe a bit eccentric in a good way.

Eino's notes:
 
I have a funny experience with Secret of Mana. My SNES-owning friends acquired the US release as an import, and sure, it's was a gorgeous action-RPG, it had multiplayer, and the ring inventory UI was very neat. I got to borrow the SNES later and played the game with another friend up until a point, where the dragon swoops in to rescue the party and at that point (perhaps due to exhaustion of playing it so much), we somehow decided this turn of events was super lame and quit.

I played the game through later on my own, but it still did not have the impact for me that its reputation would warrant. I guess I never really "got" the game! I’d be happy to give it another go with a friend or two at some point though, perhaps the penny would drop this time.

What is unquestionably great about the game is of course the music. The compositions are excellent and unique, greatly adding to the game’s identity. The tracks are also very craftily tailored to the SNES’s sound capabilities. This music is good. Even if the game is not necessarily an all-time favourite for me, I still sing a lullaby based on the music (and plot!) to my kids in the evening.

It’s also so good I claimed (in various collab formations) four tracks in total during the project’s long lifespan. It’s also so good I was only able to finish this one (the bar is high), and when I say “I finished it”, I mean Jorito did. It definitely wouldn’t have been without his generous offer for help!

The fun thing when I was claiming this track (thanks to nudging from Jorito), even at the end, there were still 3-4 fantastic tracks left for claiming. I kept listening for them, getting various ideas for each, and finally settled on Together Always, not necessarily because it was my favourite of the originals left, but I just got a couple of fun arrangement ideas for it.

One was to play the thing on the guitar. There was an alteration to the rhythm to the first lead riff that formed in my head quite naturally with the guitar in mind. The other was to mess with the time signature (like I often do), and in the chorus there’s a small gap at the end of the rhythm I would cut shorter while keeping the flow of the rhythm still pretty natural (to me at least).

After the idea stage, the execution progressed as follows:

- figure out the parts on the guitar and bass
- realise its way too fast for my skill level and will require recording in tiny tiny bits (f.e. four notes of an arp at the time)
- let this affect the arrangement, f.e. split the arp between two guitars
- make a mock-up of the arrangement structure with drums + chip sounds
- record guitar and bass in the tiny tiny bits
- improvise some stuff
- forget to record some parts
- record some parts incorrectly despite first transcribing them correctly
- spend 3x more time for timing and pitch fixes than recording
- instead of re-recording (which I didn’t have the opportunity for anyway), use the chip-style sounds to fill in for missing bits
- stretch out the arrangement via good ol’ copy & paste, add a chip solo to vary things up, don’t quite finish the ending
- send stuff to Jorito
- magic happens
- track is ready!

The particularly fun aspect of the process was that I sent a fairly dry and minimalistic track with drums, bass, guitars and a couple of simple synth tracks to Jorito, and he gives it a total maximisation make-over, including vocoded vocals and a bagpipe. Once everything was in place, the final round of mixing (which he executed, I just opined) to chisel out the excess and decide what should be the main feature of each part was quite fun and exciting. I think what emerged is a particularly fun, even joyous track, that fits the original but puts it in a crazy overdrive mode.
 
that's all, cheers
 

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This arrangement is certainly a lot of genre-defying fun, just what one would expect from these two.

There are a few production oddities.  The brass conflicts with a few of the other instruments, the robo-voice especially.  There are some strange dips in volume periodically, making it sound like the track is starting to fade out just for a second before coming back in.  This especially stands out because the arrangement is overall lacking in dynamic variation--there aren't any gaps, breakdowns, or any other breaks to prevent auditory fatigue from setting in--so those small volume changes are more pronounced.

I don't think either is a dealbreaking issue, though.  This is still clever and fun, and the production is more than adequate.  We'd need lyrics before posting this, of course, but otherwise I see no reason not to.

YES

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I was not expecting such an energetic and unique take here, and I actually had to take a moment to adjust. Nice work on pulling off such a radically different (and fun!) take on this source. I do think the second half suffers from being over-cluttered, but I was able to hear the main parts clearly enough and it doesn't bring it even close to a NO. 

Hopefully someone can confirm our correct, but I think this source was the one that Kikuta said was his favorite when he was asked (by me!) at the Otakon Q&A years ago. Fun times and this mix is lovely.

YES

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Quite a busy track here, things kick off fairly suddenly with guitar and brass riffing. The groove developed over the course of the first minute of the track was gradual and well executed. 1:24’s vocoder break was great and unexpected. The subsequent synth solo and organ afterwards were a cute addition. 2:47 presents us with another solo, and a short vocoder section closes us out. The song feels like it crams in a large amount of content for the tidy duration. A couple thoughts after listening - while things were quite busy through the course of the mix, there wasn’t really ever a time where the soundscape was too full, which is a testament to good mixing. A slightly more developed intro and outro would have been to the track’s benefit, as I feel things started and ended a little too quickly. I also felt that while the source was there, it would’ve been good to have thrown in some verbatim use of the main melody as opposed to the faster more embellished version found here. Otherwise, solid job.

YES

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The mix feels super busy right off the start. Not the cleanest production here, but it doesn't completely break down.  Loved the arrangement and those short time signature change breaks. Also any vocoding is a plus for me.

I think this song could've used a break somewhere, it's too busy ALL the time, and it gets very tiresome towards the end.  Even a 15 second section where things calmed down would've improved the listening experience tremendously.  I need to mull over this, as I'm borderline right now.  I'll finish my vote later.

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I remember this from the album eval, and my commentary is pretty close to the same as before: the arrangement suffers from having a density/business to it that gets stale over time, but the instruments are always changing so I can't quite say the arrangement gets 'static'. There's just no place for the ears to rest for a moment and appreciate what's going on, is all. For some reason there's a bit of a focus on the left ear, as well - more instruments seem to fill that side than on the right side.

Neither of these are crushing issues, though - just a bit tiring for the former issue and a bit distracting for the latter, once you notice it. The arrangement itself is certainly all there, and I can't complain with the production quality. Great work - it's certainly a solid addition to the SoM album!

YES

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