Sir_NutS

*NO* Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark "Theme from Special Agents B & K (Season 3)"

Recommended Posts

ReMixer name: Michael Hudak
Real name: Michael Hudak

 

Name of game arranged: Banjo-Kazooie (Primarily). Banjo-Tooie, GoldenEye 007, and Perfect Dark (Secondarily) 

Name of arrangement: "Theme from Special Agents B & K (Season 3)"
Name of song arranged: "Clanker's Cavern" (Primarily). "Rusty Bucket Bay", "Mad Monster Mansion", "Witchy World", "Atlantis", "Surface 1", "Chicago Stealth" (secondarily) 

My (awfully long, I'm so sorry!) comments: 
THE RUNDOWN: Special Agents B and K aired from 1983 to 1986. An undercover detective duo that would pursue mysteries sometimes flavored with the surreal or supernatural, the series was praised for its original premise and strong performances.
Initially airing at 10 pm on Friday nights, the show was moved to a new time slot halfway through Season 2 and successfully found a larger audience. By Season 3, higher production values allowed for some episodes to be filmed on location in Tokyo, Glasgow, and Mexico City, and the theme song was altered in accordance with the show becoming more cosmopolitan. By Season 4, many in the cast sought to end the series and pursue new projects, and so the final episode, the 90-minute “Goodbye, Farewell and Guh-huh”, aired in May 1986.

A pilot for a spin-off aired in November 1986, but “Cold War Mole: Bottles in Budapest” failed to attract eyeballs and was canceled by the network.

THE ACTUAL RUNDOWN: Really been into the “80s” as of late. Join the club, I know. Trying to emulate those old songs is fun, because the sounds used were often quite sterile on their own, but there were so many little weird one-off noises and anomalies buried in the playing and the programming, so recreating those kind of “happy accident” moments can be a kick. Initially this was to be a song from a non-existent, cheesy 80s slasher flick, a-la “Sleepaway Camp”, but making everything sound creepy and Halloween-ish on top of the 80s aesthetic was just too limiting, so a mystery/detective show that's only about 25% creepy (still 75% cheesy) suited it better. I'd actually love to do a TV show soundtrack one day, so I sometimes think about what kind of shows would suit the music I write. The toughest part of the arrangement was incorporating a bunch of Grant Kirkhope's music and having it not sound like a medley, so I added more original of my own original music to dial down the fan service just a notch.

Let me tell you tough, I am quite the fan. I reflected back on my salad days while writing this tune, and realized that from the hundreds of hours put into just Bond and Banjo alone, Grant Kirkhope might very well be my single most-listened to musician or composer, soundtrack or otherwise, EVER. I'd like to think it shows, too; I'm the kind of person who loves riffs and melodies more than “chords” (what ever are those?), and I think the wonderful music from 90s Rare, and Grant's stuff in particular, is PACKED with great melodies. They're imprinted into my songwriting DNA, in fact, so thanks Grant! You're the best! Hopefully you'll never get sick of 90s kids worshiping music you wrote decades ago.

I also realized a couple of my favorite songs by The Clash - “The Call Up” and “Rock the Casbah” - creeped into this ReMix. Joe Strummer, the eternal homie, and my favorite singer. Thanks to him, too.

---

As for Mr. Kirkhope's material that was used:

From Banjo-Kazooie

“Clanker's Cavern” - Descending chord progression used throughout much of the song. Main melody used in intro and choruses, obviously. The bridge in “CC” is also re-worked into the bridge of my song, in a different scale.

“Rusty Bucket Bay” and “Mad Monster Mansion” used 2:08 - 2:15.

From Banjo-Tooie

“Witchy World” used 1:45 - 2:00.

“Atlantis” used 4:23 – 4:38.

From GoldenEye

“Surface 1” (Itself a Bond Theme reworking. Perhaps doesn't qualify as music that can be used, but hopefully won't DIS-qualify the whole thing!) Used 0:30 – 1:00, roughly.

From “Perfect Dark”

“Chicago Stealth” used 1:15 – 1:28.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Rexy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's anything "obvious" about how Clanker's Cavern is used here.  I hear the similarity, but to my ears it's nothing more than that, a similarity.  The transformation is just too drastic to count as a remix IMO.

Also, it's also a bit plain and simplistic in places, frequently consisting of just melody, bass, and percussion.  Some of the synths are a little vanilla, especially the lead saw and the e-piano.    2:25 sounds dissonant to me, as does the transition around 3:45.  And that whole ending is just weird, I have no idea what you were going for there.

The Bond section sounds fine to me, I don't hear any overt music from the movies.

Lots of cool and entertaining stuff here, and I think the synthwave is fair if borderline, but I personally can't count the main source usage.  There's enough of it but it's too different from the original.

NO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After getting in touch with Michael, I got a more refined version of the source breakdown.  These are my notes based on that PM exchange.
 

Quote

0:00-0:13 - The main hook throughout.  It goes through the first half of Clanky Cavern's A melody (0:00-0:23), then goes over an adaptation of the descending bass in that section, and back to the first bar of the source.  The eighth measure in the sequence is original writing.
0:30-0:56 - An adaptation of the 1:26 section of Surface 1.  As this is a transformation of the B section of the Bond movie theme, I will not consider this as part of the tally.
1:00-1:13 - Return of the main hook.
1:15-1:29 - The intro to Chicago Stealth.  Take away 6 seconds to accommodate for silence.
1:45-1:55 - Transformed version of Witchyworld's A melody.
2:08-2:15 - Tiny snippets from Rusty Bucket Bay (1:24-1:28) and Mad Monster Mansion (1:25-1:28).  Michael, you are a legend!
2:16-2:29 - Return of the main hook.
2:38-2:44 / 2:53-2:57 / 3:01-3:07 - Adapting the first bar of Clanky Cavern's D section (1:26 in source).
3:15-4:00 - Last return of the main hook.  Deduct 2 seconds due to this loop happening three times with that same original conclusion.
4:23-4:37 - Abrupt use of the intro in Atlantis, getting more transformed as the track goes to a close.


My calculations gave me a total of 143 seconds - or 50.7%.  It's a bizarre treatment, with several tracks using less than 5 seconds, but there is some creative manipulation with every BGM brought to the table.  As far as the source goes, I consider this barely dominant.

The arrangement writing is suitable for this mock TV theme idea - good use of fading envelopes, careful attention to drums with some subtleties stopping repetition, a bass with an appropriate focus on 8th note runs, and those intentional "happy accidents" at 1:19 with the delayed chimes.  The soundscapes also feel much fuller than what I usually hear from him, with attention to pads, countermelodies, and other effects going through - so with everything taken in, I feel the arrangement side checks out.

Addressing MW's concerns about dissonance: I did hear those straight 4ths at 2:23 with that harmony slip at 2:25, but I didn't hear any off-scale notes at 3:45.  Nevertheless, the stray tone at 2:25 is a nice-to-have adjustment, just to bring that one C note up to C# to match the key.

The production is also okay - no instrument bleeding into another, and no part is out of balance either.  The synths and percussion chosen are all appropriate for the genre adaptation and have a wide variety of gates, attacks and releases.  The one thing that irks me, though, is the sound levels.  Yes, the peaks are close to the top, but the track itself rarely pushes itself beyond -3dB.  If he can find some places to apply compression and bring the volume higher - whether that be individual instruments, the master limiter, or both depending on what you feel works - then I'll be more comfortable with seeing it on the front page.

Yes, I'm the other way to MindWanderer - the source is more evident with the timestamps, and the writing is a vast improvement for submissions outside of the musique concrete material.  If Michael can bring the levels up, I feel this will be good to go.

YES (conditional on levels)

[EDIT: 2020/08/06 - I have read Emunator and prophetik's votes - and while I feel their sentiment in struggling to hear much of the source, I feel the transformation hasn't gone far off the beaten path to be completely unrecognizable.  The hook kept the melody but messed around with the rhythms, and with the fragmented cameos, he kept the melodies verbatim (sans the transformation on Witchyworld).  I honestly don't see this aspect as a dealbreaker, which is why I'm adamant with my feelings staying as they are.  I am, however, not objecting to the idea of Michael making source use even clearer if he decides to do a resub.]

Edited by Rexy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Off the top, I appreciate the overall concept and artist notes here. I can tell that this arrangement is coming from a place of admiration for Grant Kirkhope, which is an admiration I share myself :) 

That said, as someone who has listened to these soundtracks countless times, I would not have known this had any Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo-Tooie without looking at the artist's breakdown, and even then, I really had to force myself to hear the connection over multiple listens. I see how you got from A to B, but the end result feels way too far removed from the original content to click with me. 

From a sound design/production standpoint, this is also a mixed bag. I like the sound pallet that you used to evoke a retro feeling, it's very cohesive and does a great job conveying the concept you had in mind. The reversed sfx and fills throughout the song are also very engaging. However, many of the samples/synths were so exposed that the lack of variation/automation really became obvious. Particularly in the bass - not only is the bass pattern fairly static (which I realize is a feature, not a bug, with this genre) but the sample itself stays at a relatively flat velocity and doesn't ebb and flow with the rest of the track and is a fairly "vanilla" sound to start with. When the mix is filled out at its busiest points, it's not as noticeable, but there are just as many sections where the arrangement is so minimal that it really highlights the rigid sequencing.

I hate to come across so negative on a track that has a lot to like about it, but ultimately this just doesn't click for me as a remix. Good luck with the rest of the vote!

NO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow. so, on a personal level, this track is fine. i'd have put it on a project without question.

however, this is a great example of the clash between points 4.2 and 4.3 of the submission standards.

Quote

Your arrangement must be substantial and original.

Quote

The source material must be identifiable and dominant.

i consider this arrangement to be substantial enough for the style to be easily over any bar we might set. there's variation, it's not boom-tiss-neener-neener for the entire track like some synthwave tracks are, there's a significant amount of creativity in how the different themes are applied, and there's some real advanced theory going on (paralell fourths in a melodic minor mode, shades of In a Sentimental Mood, eh?). 

that said, this song is unrecognizable as a BK song, which doesn't mean it's bad, just that it's too far out there for this application. the clanker's cavern riff honestly is too far away to be considered a true arrangement and not just inspired by CC. as that's what the track is based on, correlations fall apart after that. i'd put the actual source usage that's identifiable and consistent at maybe 20%, if not significantly lower.

there just needs to be more source in here to really call it. the bassline is too generic to consider that enough to tie it to the original song. i love the concept and execution for what it is but i don't believe it has a home here unfortunately.

 

 

NO

Edited by prophetik music

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I don't have much to add to the conversation here, the other Js have explained the pros and the cons I'm hearing very well.  The tipping point here is the arrangement, as the source is pretty nebulous and it's very hard to make the connection.  Even if the sources are technically there I'm having a very hard time relating it to the originals. I am enjoying the simple instrumentation, it does sound more like an old electro song than the modern synthwave we're used to hear, reminds me of a band I used to listen to called System.  The mix is clean.

IMO this is a good arrangement on its own, but not a good remix.  

NO

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.