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OCRA-0009 - Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream


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Do you think that Nobuo Uematsu could get his hands on this album? Would you send him a copy? Do you think it has been too long since he has heard his music? Do you think he will recognize his own music in the mixes? Or will he just sue us?

I don't know if he'd sue, but I'm sure he'll recognize his own music. After all, he is involved with the Black Mages now, a rock group playing his music. Any good composer would recognize their music in a remix anyway.

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I don't think there was a single track on the release that didn't appeal to at least one of my musical tastes... I was seriously astounded by the quality and worksmanship that went into the project, and the result was nothing short of amazing. Some of the artists I picked out as having more than one song I liked, I think deserve some mention... zircon, bLiNd (name stealer :P), Sixto Sounds, pixietricks, Tweek, and Steffan Andrews. I really enjoyed the songs that incorporated a guitar, and many of the rearrangements that had a lot of orchestral sections added for a more powerful sound were incredible. Congrats to all who devoted their time and talent into the project, I hope to be able to assist in something such as this in the future. :)

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I haven't been able to seed on my computer, it never works or I can't figure it out. ><

Anyway, I've got the entire soundtrack on my computer and I listen to a different song every day. In my opinion, it's the best album that's been produced from the wonderful remixers on this site.

I made a copy of the soundtrack, and I gave it to the school that I work at. How's that for seeding?? It should be heard by over a thousand ears by the time the school year is over with ^.~

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So, this project bugs me. I'm here, you know, totally thinking "Yeah, I loved FF7, and the music was nice. This will be fun at least!" and I sat down and listened to the thing.

Sure, I got bored halfway through the first disc but I kept listening anyways. Nice production values, it's really trying to get that polished sound out and sure thing it does!

It's very nice of everyone who participated to work on something like this and I appreciate the effort.

My main beef is that it was hard for me to objectively listen to this as "just the music", because the whole "THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER TO COME OUT OF THIS PAGE!" and "HA! NOW THEY'LL TAKE VIDEOGAME MUSIC SERIOUSLY!!!!" and so on and so forth.

I think that's putting way too much context into just a bunch of songs, sorry to say. This isn't breaking any ground anywhere in terms of the music itself, it's just a bunch of people who did what they know how to do pretty well and it works on that level just fine.

Tacking so much meaning to it almost made me want to simply not listen to it at all, since I expected pretty much what I DID hear, and I knew I'd be sorely disappointed to expect something like what the hype and descriptions said (and they are pretty vague and full of blanket statements, so that also leads to, you know, interpreting them in whatever way you want!)

I think it's pretty childish to have so much talk of what this project "should mean" to the remixing community and the site here and all of that. If everyone is so confident in the piece of work then let it speak for itself! It would certainly be a lot more professional, and if it is really as good as anyone says it is then it would also be nicely humble!

For example, I personally think PianoSquall's quote on the main page is extremely disorienting. How is anyone going to take that seriously? Saviors? Come on, I'm trying here to distance the music from all the nonsense attached to it, but stuff like that isn't helping.

So with that out of the way for now, I'll say a little something about the music itself.

I said I got bored, and what I meant is that while I see what people here were shooting for, it simply felt like I've heard all of it before millions of times. No, I don't mean that the FF7 soundtrack is old and tired. I'm talking about the actual composition of the arrangements.

I'll point out the biggest example, which is the so famous One Winged Angel. I basically was interested in this project for the major reason that I wanted to see how they'd tackle stuff like this precisely due to the popularity of the original.

It's a real challenge, I'd say, to take the source material and do something that stands up to its level yet is not the same.

So, a lot of the other tracks felt like, in some way, lesser versions of these problems. My problem was that they didn't distance themselves enough from the original material.

So when I started hearing the project, it was at first a little interesting, but I quickly started to realize that there was no work done at all to develop the musical material beyond the simple "different rhythm, change instruments, repeat" approach, to put it in very simple words.

Of course this isn't the case for all of the remixes presented, but I just kept feeling that so much more could be done with what there was, and since this is a very well known soundtrack it would've been a great opportunity to break some new ground.

I think that to really get a kick out of a project that tackles such a difficult soundtrack is to try to push into directions which people aren't expecting, take the source material and really work it and bend it.

What I mean is, why couldn't, for example, the one winged angel song been composed and worked in, say, free atonality. You could take parts of the motives through the song, establish them as head-motives and work it in many different ways. It doesn't mean it has to sound like Schönberg or any of those guys, but I'm talking that there's just so much more than jazz, rock, techno or 19th century classical music.

And specially considering the original soundtrack itself IS presented in those styles, it really seems to me as lacking imagination and creativity.

So back to the point I made about the context again. If the remixing community, this website and all of that really wants to make a mark anywhere, it's going to take a lot more than this. A whole lot more.

I personally can't recommend this project as an example of anything other than an effort by a significant number of individuals really just have a great time and do stuff they liked. At least that's what it sounds like, and I think that's a good thing. It is certainly sounding like everyone had a good time making this and all of that.

But it's also just as hopeless to really go anywhere for the same reasons.

So I can illustrate my point, listen to Gradius in Classic II, Act II. This is excellent use of the material, with many modern techniques and excellent use of the instruments. See also the orchestral album for Samurai Spirits, released by SNK many years ago. Fantastic reworking of the songs, which must've been a pretty big challenge since that soundtrack is extremely stiff!

In closure, I again would like to point out that I appreciate this effort to a great degree, and I think it's not bad despite what my personal opinion is.

However, to me, remixing is about solving problems. So what problems did this solve? What issues were tackled and solved? This project really had a HUGE issue to begin with, that of it being FF7, and all of this. Was that really tackled the best way it could've been? Does this project stand as tall as the original material in originality, composition and creativity?

Those are difficult questions to answer, but in the end it's what distances something that really makes an impact by itself and something that just lives off the impact of something else.

If you want to talk about the project, say things about it and push it on Digg and everywhere else on the internet, I'm sure many more people (specially musicians) would be more interested in what the remixers have to say about those questions, and the actual work behind the compositions.

Heads up, that's all.

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So when I started hearing the project, it was at first a little interesting, but I quickly started to realize that there was no work done at all to develop the musical material beyond the simple "different rhythm, change instruments, repeat" approach, to put it in very simple words.

If you think thats the jist of the what the majority of the project is, then I don't believe you listened to the whole thing properly. Only a few tracks (probably mine included) are even near to being guilty of that.

I'm all for constructive criticism, but that sort of comment CAN'T be applied to a whole set of 45 tracks and be expected to be accepted. I would be very careful about putting phrases like "no work done at all" into a critique of anything.

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Just a quick question: I just downloaded the soundtrack (ITS AWESOME gratz to the artists) and I printed the artwork and its way too big to put in a CD cover. Can anyone tell me how to do that?

EDIT: Oh and btw i'd also need some instruction for putting the disc artwork in the right size so I can paste it onto the CDs.

Thx ^^

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Could you explain this a bit further for me? I'm not completely sure what you mean.

It means that to me remixing requires one to have a direction, and an intention, and then see what stuff gets in the way and solve it.

Say I want to remix the good'ol Mario 1-1 song, but I'm thinking here I want to do it for a string orchestra and do some other stuff with it. I have a lot of things to solve, which composition techniques am I going to use? Which form will the remix have? How far away from the original is it going to be? Should one be able to recognize the original easily or is that not so important?

Because I also picked string orchestra as my instrument(s) I have to start also thinking how I can best use the strings, and seeing which sounds I want and how do I achieve them. It's very much sorting through whatever materials you have, instruments, musical elements, and then seeing "OK, so I'm ditching half of the song because I have enough from just the first ten notes." or "I'm going to take things from all over it, but put them in other orders" and so on.

ETC, organization of the material. All of these things are challenges and they all present problems to whatever your goal is "But I want it to sound sorta like techno in this section, should I change instruments just for this or can I somehow produce the effect only with what I originally started?" or "This is not recognizable enough, maybe I should add more elements to fix it, but maybe that also mess up what I have going so far."

There's also a pretty interesting point to be made about quoting the original. Should the remix itself actually stand alone and knowing it was originally inspired or uses bits and pieces from another song isn't crucial? How much should I quote the original song, and in what ways? There's also the whole thing with collage technique, where you can just transplant parts and pieces of the original intact and mix THAT around, with other things, or with itself.

If, for example, you're trying to make a Requiem out of Super Mario's soundtrack, it's going to get tricky seeing how to employ the original material in ways which don't compromise the character of what you're trying to do. And stuff like "Should I quote the main melody as it is or should it be in minor instead?" is going to start popping up.

I hope this helps explain what I mean, and why if you're remixing a rock song as a rock song, with a rock song in mind, this is a lot "easier" than the examples I presented since most of your material is there already by genre characteristics, and there's a lot less to do since the original composer already did most of the work.

From that perspective, putting up something really well crafted and thought out in the same genre (I hate this word) becomes extremely difficult, since there are even more problems.

So there you go.

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The irony of your criticsm, Ytmh, is that the overwhelming majority of negative criticism we have received from *other* people is that we "butchered" the originals and strayed too far from the original melodies. I'm serious - you might be the only person I've seen on any forum to say we've been too conservative. Either way, I think it's impossible to generalize. "Valse Aeris" is completely different in arrangement approach and ratio of original material to source material than "End of the Beginning".

As for the press quotes and 'hype', well, unfortunately in today's world things don't "speak for themselves". That isn't how it works. With programs like Garageband and Reason, and the wide-availability of cheap (but high quality) audio hardware, anyone can release music. Literally anyone can get a homemade CD on iTunes, Napster, and Rhapsody without a label. There are hundreds of aggregator sites releasing tens of thousands of songs daily. The amount of albums released in 2005 shot up by over 150% compared to 2004, and I'm sure by the end of 2007 there will be another few hundred % on top of that.

All this translates to the fact that promotion - eg. publicity - is essential for any musical project to get noticed. You simply can't release something and expect people to flock to it just because you put it on the internet; even IF the nature of it (Final Fantasy 7) lends the release to greater public interest. Take it from me - I'm a Music Industry major and I spend the majority of my time reading books and magazine/newspaper articles on the subject, even outside of class.

There is of course a difference between "hype" and "positive attention" as well. We asked Michael Gluck to listen to the project and, if he liked it, contribute a statement we might use on the VotL site as a positive quote (this is very common in music, or any kind of media, really.) It was his word choice, not ours. Likewise, all of the people reviewing the project are doing so of their own free will. The people on the project staff, such as myself and djpretzel, have been careful to limit our 'official' word choice and not make bold statements. If you scan through the VotL site and the first post of the announcements thread, we haven't really done any hyping.

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Irony or not, as far as what other people say, it matters to me very little. Bringing up only a couple of examples is exactly what I meant when I said not every song in the entire project was made the same way.

And, about publicity? If you're so careful about what you say about the project, as you say you are, why aren't you careful about what gets posted in the official website for quotes and the like as well? Do you think that it doesn't reflect on you, if you allow it yourself on the page (talking about Mr.Gluck's quote)?

Might as well make up quotes saying it's fantastic, though what it says already is far more than that! It's not YOU saying it, right? That makes it OK, apparently.

Since you're the project coordinator-leader-whatever and you even have your own title there under your forum nickname, why didn't it occur to you that these types of things get obviously traced back to you if it's on a space you personally control (e.g front page of the project!)

And as far as your distinction of positive statements and hype? If it's on the official page, it's hype, period. It's a way to catch people who may probably be more interested in it because someone said it was good.

This sort of thing turn people away unless they were really set on listening to it in the first place.

I know it certainly made it pretty difficult for me to listen to it and try to remember it's really just a bunch of guys doing songs based on a videogame. Oh, for FREE too.

... But well, I suppose you didn't do any hyping. Sure. Yeah, it's called maybe something else in Industro-speak.

Sorry but I can't see how having ANYONE say "It doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to arrangement albums... brace yourselves for one of the most impressive and encompassing listening experiences in the world of video game music." on the main page of anything doesn't qualify as hype! What is it then?

Positive reviews are positive reviews, but when you're using positive reviews to sell your product in this manner, you're generating hype in favor of it by pushing the review before the actual product, generating expectation and piking interest.

You studied this, right? Fabricated hype is cheap, it cheapens the project and despite my criticisms I think the whole thing doesn't deserve such treatment.

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I'm definitely no scholar on the subjects presented in the last few posts, but a couple of things stand out to me.

I don't mean to take anything out of context, but it seems like you're over-complicating the bejeebers out of everything, man. Such as:

The thing about "remixing is about solving problems" - that's waaay too deep for me. I can only of course speak for myself, but I don't remix in an effort to make the world a better place or anything. I'm just showing my personal appreciation for the music, and giving myself something fun to do at the same time.

Also, obviously there's going to be "hype" in EVERYTHING. Look anywhere. Commercials, newspapers, DVD cases, cereal boxes, anything. Not to sound like a cynical jerk (really) but is one then supposed to use negative feedback to promote their product/idea? Sounds like you're stigmatizing zircon, etc. for a peculiar reason--and one that makes no sense at all at that.

Also, changing rhythm & instruments. Is this NOT something that should be done in order to reinterpret a piece of music?

WAAAAY over-complicating.

Seriously, you're more than welcome to be disappointed/dislike/express your malcontentedness in the project, and you have every right to do so. Anyone with sense and maturity understands and accepts that not everyone can be pleased, and that's fine. It's what makes the world go 'round.

But I don't understand the need to bring up solutions to things that never needed a solution in the first place. We weren't trying to alter the course of civilization or sweep mankind of into a new sense of nirvanic rapture--we just remixed a well-known soundtrack.

Again, none of my remarks have been said with the intent of offense. I'm just explaining that I think you may be way over our heads on this one, bro.

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Sorry but I can't see how having ANYONE say "It doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to arrangement albums... brace yourselves for one of the most impressive and encompassing listening experiences in the world of video game music." on the main page of anything doesn't qualify as hype! What is it then?

Yeah, that made me cringe a bit, but I suppose this is the first "all-out" release the site is making and because it's source material, Final Fantasy, is so widely known and popular, they want to do everything possible to attract every possible listener. And although I hate to admit it, that kind of stuff really does attract attention for the site, and most of the casual listeners who would be drawn in by it probably wouldn't have the same complaints as you.

Besides, when people praise you it makes you want to let everyone know.

And when you think about it, it's not really that much of an exaggeration. There's not a huge amount of video game arrangement albums, is there? So it's not much of a stretch to say this is one of the best, even if a lot of it isn't in a genre that I enjoy too much, I can still appreciate it.

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Yeah, that made me cringe a bit, but I suppose this is the first "all-out" release the site is making and because it's source material, Final Fantasy, is so widely known and popular, they want to do everything possible to attract every possible listener.

This may be the first "all-out" release OCR has done, but WE didn't write that review. The reviewer on M4G was an independent, unaffiliated 3rd party with nothing to gain by lavishing such praise on VotL. In fact, he risked credibility as a writer by being that positive. That quote, as part of his review, is an honest opinion. What are we gonna do, tell a reviewer from a respected VGM site that we're not using his review because it's too positive? Edit what he said?

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