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OCR04662 - *YES* Aquaria "Underwater Caves"


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Aquaria was a game I sadly never played properly. But I immediately fell in love with the soundtrack, which was one of my first purchases on Bandcamp. With this remix I tried to represent a kind of travel through the underwater caves, including sound samples of water and bubbles. To emphasize the loneliness I also incorporated the sound of a pulse pumping slow and faster. The remix became quiet long over time but I think it is worth the trip.

UPDATE-INFOS (March 20, 2024):


The Journey:

The original remix was built up like a journey through Aquaria.
That’s the reason why most of the main parts are still existent in the new version.

– The Intro starts with a splash and the dives deep down into the ocean.
Theres a noise sound in the beginning which is rising down to emphasize this.
And there's echo sounder like sound used in the drums starting at 1:10.

– At 1:40 theres the breath of Nadja, the protagonist of Aquaria.

– The center part starts with the pulses, which become faster at the end, to increase the drama.

– The climax of the main theme ends with the waves above the sea, but it is not clear what became of Nadja.


Things I’ve changed:

For me the intro isn’t disconnected at all. Especially because parts of it are repeated I the middle section. But I changed the chord progression at 1:27 to use it as a foreshadowing of the upcoming melody starting at 1:42. So the chord progression is now more connected to the rest of the melody.

Emunator criticized the detached feeling. Although I didn’t perceived it while writing I think it underlines the journey-like character (like chapters).

Some of you mentioned the thin soundscape at the start of the main melody at 1:42, so I tried to make it fuller, with the basses coming in earlier.

The biggest change is in the middle part. Chimpazilla suggested that a spoken text could maintain the interest. Inspired by this idea I wrote a poem from the perspective of Nadja about her journey through Aquaria. In the game there’s something similar when Nadja narrates the intro: https://youtu.be/gv5xxGp7qzM?si=2WMd4Ygk-s5Hp27n&t=343

Nadjas text is introduced by »the verse«. According to the story of Aquaria »the verse« is something that flows throughout Aquaria« and »binds all as one«. The lyrics of Nadja are inspired by the text she speaks in the intro.

At the end of the spoken part I cutted about 30 seconds which were from 4:30 – 5:02 in the old version and put the climax directly behind it.

@DarkSim: Your shorter version is interesting, but too short for my taste, because the intro and outro are about the half of the whole track.


The Lyrics:

Listen to the whispers of the verse ...

Deep in the ocean down below
where dark and dangerous waters flow.
Concealed within this vivid gloam
there is a place I once called home.

But I am not supposed to stay,
’Cause loneliness drives me away.
So I'll be strong, I have no choice.
Call out in song, and use my voice.

Through coral banks and caves so vast
I seek the truth, search for my past.
Don't let my aim get out of sight
until the answers comes to light.

And while my journey sets me free
I use my strength to finally
reveal, behind the barrier,
the secrets of Aquaria.

Games & Sources:

Name of game(s) arranged: Aquaria

Name of individual song(s) arranged: The Traveller


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sfx to start with some really broad synth strokes and a pulsing beat. significant departure from the original's feel with this first part - i definitely get the loneliness feel, although it's more of a sci-fi feel with the wide juno pads. beat comes in at 1:10, and the arps and chords are focusing on the vi and IV chords only initially, but we do finally get a root chord at 1:42 as the melodic material shows up for the first time. this part is more disjointed from the earlier, more patient, more isolated early section in many ways, including freq range, vibe, and pacing.

1:42's pretty straightforward with the arrangement. the arp's still there, the melody trucks through without really stopping like the original, but there's some nice soaring pads that go along with it. there's the first big departure (other than the opening) at 3:17, with the pulse coming back underneath the melodic line. this builds up starting at 3:58, using the kick and some repetitive synths and pads to gather energy towards a tonal shift at 4:30. this is more ballad-feeling here even with the borrowed dominant chord that the remixer uses, and after some more sfx we get the last big blow of the track starting at 5:15. a high note fading out at 5:45 is the last notable element, as we get a few of the wide synths and sfx from the beginning and it's done.

as a whole, the intro doesn't feel like it's connected to the body of the work. there's not a lot that carries over into the main melodic sections. that said, the track sounds good and does a nice job of varying the instrumentation and backing elements around the melodic material, and it sounds good. i think the arrangement overall is a bit conservative and brings this down somewhat, but this is still over our bar.




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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2023/11/29 - (1Y) Aquaria "Underwater Caves"
  • 2 weeks later...

Yep, I get where proph's coming from on the intro seeming disconnected, the overall conservative approach, and the fact that it's a pass regardless. This felt to me like the kind of melodically conservative but substantively transformative arrangements that I've heard at Remix.Kwed.Org in the European side of the scene. :-) More measured than what I'm used to from Peter; interesting to hear a markedly different approach in his instrumentation and style.


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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/11/29 - (2Y) Aquaria "Underwater Caves"
  • 2 weeks later...

Ah, Aquaria. Such a lovely soundtrack. I bounced off the actual gameplay a couple of hours in, but it was a delight to listen to.

I have to agree that the big synth foghorn intro doesn't do a good job of telling you what kind of song this is going to be. It does have a certain amount of that Daft Punk-like bassy soundscape up through the 1:40 mark, but after that, while we do keep that kind of bass, it plays a supporting role and not a lead one. That said, it's not so different from a lot of scores and other cinematic music. FFVII's Bombing Mission comes to mind. Certainly not a dealbreaker.

It is indeed structurally similar to the original, other than the intro, but the instrumentation is plenty enough to differentiate itself.

I will say that the soundscape is surprisingly light. The bass is definitely there, although after the intro it seems over-filtered to me and lacks presence. The arps, pads, and hats fill out the top. But the leads are the only thing in the mids, and they're pretty simple synths that don't have the harmonics to really fill out that space. It's not until 4:30, when everything is firing at once, that the soundscape feels properly full and lush, and that's 75% of the way through the arrangement.

Still, it's pretty, it's novel, and none of my concerns are enough to send this back over.


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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/11/29 - Aquaria "Underwater Caves"
  • Liontamer pinned this topic

I'm having a hard time with this one. 

I'm all about a slow burn and being patient with a piece of music. While I don't really think this needed to be over 6 minutes long, and a significant amount could have been cut without affecting the overall track, it wasn't a dealbreaker for me. 

My big issue is I feel like I'm missing half the frequency spectrum. The only thing we have going on in the low end for a huge portion of the track is the kick drum. We occasionally have some low synth/strings but they fall out repeatedly, keeping large portions of the mix in the top half of the hearable range. Given the bladerunner-esque soundscape we're dealing with, I feel like there's a lot of missed potential in making this sound full. Given that the piece IS so long, and we have to live in these sections for large amounts of time, to me it pushes it below the bar. Suggestions from me are all in the EQ - the piece just needs more information, and it can be done by either not cutting what you've cut, or adding things in. You can spread out the instrumentation in the stereo field, which then gives you more headroom to restore some of its information without making mastering a mess. 


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Beautiful source tune, and I love how you've taken it into a more industrial, sci-fi, almost space-like direction with the big blows and synth choices. That modulated saw-like sound at 0:55 is great. Full of atmosphere.

The slow-burning intro builds beautifully, and just as the pads are filling out the soundscape and we feel like the track is above to go somewhere, it all drops out and there's about 3 minutes of what I'd call "faffing about" before the track picks up again. I've a big issue with how empty the middle section sounds. It's very thin in terms of soundscape, and also there isn't much going on to hold my interest for such a long time. Those pads/strings that came in at 1:27 played what sounded like half a chord progression, then left us hanging for 3 minutes before the natural continuation of that build is allowed to return.

To illustrate my point best, I've hastily cut your track up to connect the section from about 1:40 with that of 4:29 (with an improvised transition), and it sounds incredible. Have a listen:


I'd suggest doing something similar and cutting out a lot of unnecessary bloat from the middle of your track. 6.5 minutes is a long time to keep the listener engaged, and I don't feel there's enough in there at the moment to do so. I understand it's a tough decision to cut out hours of work, but often it's the best way to ensure that what's left is of the highest standard.

NO (resubmit!)

P.S. I love the heartbeat and breathing effects in the transitions. If you do end up doing something similar to my edit, make sure those are slightly different from each other (I copied an existing one).

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This is a really interesting arrangement. I see what you're going for but find that the constant full-stop transitions give this a very detached feeling. Using that trick once or twice would probably not cause me to bat an eye, but it gives the arrangement a very patchwork feeling without a clear focus. This *can* work, but it's clear that you're going for something with more of a cinematic bend to it - the Vangelis influence is clear, but it's missing the intentional progression and fully fleshed out soundscapes that are present in his work. The sound design that you do have is pretty cool, but the track loses its way multiple times along the way on an arrangement level, and overall feels like a sketchpad of ideas that sometimes connect smoothly.

You've got a very strong first pass here, but I think this needs to go back to the cutting room floor for another pass at editing and arrangement.

[vote updated below]


Edited by Emunator
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/11/29 - Aquaria "Underwater Caves"
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I don't recall hearing the original submission, but this in-progress re-submission sounds like it really addressed a lot of the issues raised. Love the vibes of this one -- I'm a sucker for a good retro synth atmosphere, and you've really put the WAVES into synthwave. GEDDIT? BECAUSE IT'S THE OCEAN? AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Ahem. Just gonna let that ship sail....sorry. 

That really is a long intro for an OCR submission. I was wondering when we'd actually get to the source, but we did get there about a third of the way through the track, starting at roughly 1:30something. From there forward the source is pretty audible until the sound-effects ending. I'm not gonna break out the stopwatch, but this feels like at LEAST 50% source usage, so good enough for me. No major mix issues to note, everything seems to more or less have its place. The poetry insertion does a good job of carrying the middle section, and I like how it's even roughly in sync with the rhythm of the track. Neat touch. Finale could have had an extra gear to it -- maybe something soaring over the top of everything else, just for that last, final push, but it does still work. 

Actual arrangement of the source material is pretty simple, but the track is creative, it tells a story, it's presented well, mixed cleanly enough, and it has ~vibes~ for days. I give this one a...


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I definitely voted on the original submission but I don't recall it very clearly, so I'm going into this resubmission essentially with fresh ears.

The intro hits us immediately with some tense, brooding analog buildups. The bass frequencies feel sparse and underpopulated but it leaves room to grow off of, and could easily be chalked up to a stylistic decision. I'm just used to hearing cinematic tracks like this with a bigger sub presence. Many of the synths and individual elements feel exposed and I can't help but feel like some sustained drone/ambiance used throughout the piece would help make this much more rich.

At 2:15, the soundscape starts to flesh out and I'm feeling this more - it's a slow burn, but we got here. Your sound selection across the board is pretty great, feeling modern and in-line with Aquaria's aesthetic, but bringing some of your own flair to the table as well. It's simultaneously retro and modern. I do recall the previous submission feeling quite aimless in terms of arrangement, so I'm happy to say that doesn't seem to be the case here. The dynamic curve is much more deliberate and makes for a much more cohesive experience.

The spoken word interlude is great from a conceptual level, but the vocals feel far too loud and don't blend in with the rest of the sounds. They feel pasted on top, and this highlights a general issue I'm having with this arrangement: I don't think that reverb and other creative mixing effects were utilized effectively to glue all of your elements together. Take the delay tail on the word "Aquaria" at the end of the poem. It feels like you're trying to create an atmospheric delay throw, but because there's so little diffusion on your delay, it actually feels more like you're just looping the sample over and over again, and it breaks the immersion for me.

This is tough for me - the arrangement and sound design are strong points here, but I still am left feeling underwhelmed by the atmosphere and immersion due to certain elements (specifically the vocals) feeling too loud and inconsistently mixed with the rest of the soundscape, and a general sense of sparseness in the mix due to limited bass frequencies and lack of padding elements. I do think this gets by on the strength of its arrangement and concept, but I still think there's room for improvement on future submissions if you approach this style again.

YES (borderline)

Edited by Emunator
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