Let's get the two main issues with this Secret of Mana collaboration between SnappleMan (guitar part) and GrayLightning (everything else) out of the way right off the bat: firstly, the guitar part is flat, and secondly, the percussion doesn't emphasize and amplify the very dramatic, almost processional nature of the music as well as it could. Some judges felt the former was the larger issue, some the latter, but all concurred these were the two salient problems with an otherwise dramatic blend of orchestral, new age, and rock. I think Vigilante summed this one up nicely:
"some slight out-of-tunage in the guitar, and i wish he would have slid a bit less, but it's good to listen to none the less. not a fan of the percussion, perhaps this mix would have been better without, or just with a timpani or something. seems a bit repetitive, but the guitar does a lot for this mix. not spectacular, arrangement could use some variation, but it's solid, and the guitar works well."
Gray can and certainly has done better percussion, and SnappleMan was a bit more polished with his recent electric work on his own KillerDokko mix. Neither of these two elements prevents the mix from working on a certain level, but both combined hold it back from achieving the impact it could have had they been revised. There are several moments that help counter this, though; the extended solo string tradeoffs around 1'40" work very well, and the guitar part itself does a lot for the mix as Jesse says. It's not your typical Secret of Mana mix, and not a typically covered selection from Kikuta's works either. The intro in particular is quite strong and has a nice taut and undulating digital/analog atmosphere to it. The percussion at certain points actually *is* rather layered and effective, with some nice additions and flare; it's just that there's an equal number of moments when it's not as "there". It balances itself out and in my mind isn't as much of an issue as the tuning on the otherwise enhancing and energizing guitar part. At 2'30" when it's doubled up with itself and quite a bit louder, it sounds much better; not sure if this is simply due to it overpowering the backing track temporarily, but this is another one of the moments, along with the well-executed ending, that are quite compelling and memorable. This is a good mix, interpretive and creative, with two stopping points that may or may not be issues for listeners. Gray just informed me as I was writing this that a revision isn't possible as the project file's been lost, so this is the mix in its final incarnation: WYHIWYG. Well worth checking out in spite of an achilles' heel or two - don't let the quibbles overshadow my overall high opinion.
on 2009-12-14 01:11:28
Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this mix. Maybe it's just me, but I keep not feeling much of a cadence throughout this mix; it feels closed and stuffy.
Still it's a nice listen, lots of interesting things going on here, very rocking piece. But this just isn't striking a chord with me.
My recommendation is to go listen for yourself, but this isn't going in my playlists though.
on 2007-12-21 18:09:34
A nice listen that for a change actually does well at integrating strings and a guitar, and so sounds very rich and varied, especially with the background section nicely present without ever stickung out especially, though it is also a little uniform at times. There are some shortcomings, namely the undecided beginning, but from there the melody develops nicely except for the rather uninteresting key change at around 1:55. The rest I consider to be a very satisfying and an inspiring blend of genres in some sections(*). Other than the beginning, the end works well for the piece, using a standard semi-'grandiose' pattern.
(*) Which obviously has to do with how the song was made
on 2007-07-30 18:23:30
I agree with OA on this one. I haven't a single problem with SnappleMan's guitar. The point was to have distortion. The song begins with a mesmerizing humming and pulsing melody, flowing into a deliberate and methodical pacing that captured the spirit of the source material excellently.
As an aside, I consider myself a vg music afficianado. The Secret of Mana OST always brings back fond memories of yesteryear, back in the day when the clunky graphics of the old systems made the good games all the more special for having overcome all the drawbacks.
The Star of Darkness bgm also holds a place in my heart for being one of the best songs on an OST listened to alongside those of Chrono Trigger and the early Final Fantasies.
While this track is radically different from the original material, it evokes a feeling that Star of Darkness held and magnifies it with wonderful rockin' guitar and sweet, sweet electric violin accompanied by sparse interjections of horn.
The two parts: Snappleman's purposely out of tune and distorted guitar, and Gray's percussion, violin and horn (plus whatever effects he used) mesh very well.
Distorted Star bears the definite mark of Gray within the pacing and clear, visionary style. Gray remains one of my favorite artists on the site, and unless he changes his style dramatically, will continue to remain so.
Snappleman, while relatively young to the site, has a dedicated style with the electric guitar. While reminding me of the big hair days of 80s metal, is nonetheless very pleasing to the ears. Hearing Star of Darkness in guitar wins big points for me. The volume was all right and in my opinion, was at the right level the whole way through. Keep up the great work Snapple! I hope to hear more from you.
Sorry for the long post. I don't post often but when I do, I go all out.
on 2007-07-09 11:13:14
Snappleman's out of tune guitar has never sounded so pristine.
It brings a tear to my eye. ;_;
The tuning issue isn't the whole thing, just a few of the sections, and it's weird that both mixers didn't seem to notice, but it doesn't break anything. Overall the mix is very good with a lot of cool sections, and a pretty vibrant feel throughout.
It's also cool comparing this to more recent works from both mixers, who have grown a ton since this mix.
Good work comrades!
on 2007-03-04 10:01:55
As with many other remixes, the first time I heard this through, I didn't really like it, but then I went back through and got to appreciate what was going on.
I really like how you guys blended roman-era strings with synth and distorted electric guitar. Even though the guitar sounds a bit out of tune, it still sounds great. My favorite part of this would have to be at 1:57 - 2:17, where Snap blends in a riff from guitar to an awesome string melody by Gray.
on 2006-03-11 08:10:05
It kind of annoys me that I have had this remix in my mp3 in a half-year now and haven't reviewed it. Well here goes.
The creativity used to make this song have been pointed out enough I guess, but this track really deserved a guitar remix since serious, important, must-save-world-from-total-destruction tracks usually sounds very good with an electric guitar kicking ass in the front. The thought that the guitar was bad tuned in the beginning has never struck, and it doesn't do it now either. Although I don't know a squat about guitars and their tunage, I still enjoyed this piece to the fullest. It was very dynamic, drums, strings and guitar playing at the same time. Instruments often stood out too much, but it was still an awesome experience listening to it. Definitly a keeper.
on 2005-03-30 16:41:28
Granted, I may find as much annoying in the song as everyone else (namely the guitar), but this is actually pretty good despite those issues. The remix does a pretty good job on expanding one of the least-heard tracks in the game (for its short timespan), and really improves on the ominous feel to it.
A few improvements could have been made, but that goes without saying.
Otherwise, good job, and keep it up!
on 2004-08-23 23:19:19
Pretty cool tune. DJ Pretzel wrapped most thoughts up in the description. The out of tune guitar is only annoying because it is so pronounced, and while the tune is giant and dramatic (sounds perfectly in tune in the later sections), the thin guitar almost makes it sound like a parody of a Bruckheimer film. Regardless, you can tell both artists are incredibly talented and that a lot of work went into this tune. I think it deserves high marks for effort.
on 2004-07-26 06:18:27
Well, the problems have already been pointed out -- the out of tune guitar, for example. But I've heard a lot worse. The arrangement is a bit discordant ... but honestly, I really do like this mix. It's energetic and unusual. I'd love to hear a tightened-up, newer version myself, since this one is definitely on the right track. ^^ Not to mention it's based on one of my most favourite pieces of music in a video game.
on 2004-07-25 15:15:42
Thanks to snappleman for playing the guitar and helping me complete it. This is also a variation of my Drifting Towards the Stars mix for Secret of Mana. It's available here at OCR also.
Distorted Star is one of my older mixes, so it naturally doesn't match up to my newer stuff. I did this over a year ago and touched it up a little bit. This was a fun mix and I always had a soft spot for this one.
Thanks for the comments.
on 2004-07-24 09:49:46
Unusual and original ! I liked it
Could be placed in any adventure movie's soundtrack.
on 2004-07-24 02:50:52
Well, here goes...
This being posted quite a while after it was made can confuse some people. Gray's style has evolved quite a bit since this song, and I think the quality of his mixes has improved greatly also. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE this song. I remember when this was in the WIP forum the first time, and I got the very first version of this... Man, so much has happened since then, and I'm amazed Gray was able to see this song all the way through and actually fix it so that it would be accepted by OCR. I'm glad he did, because his endurance through this trial has beared fruit, and he achieved his goal after around a year.
Well, this song may not be the best of his works, but I will say that it definitely is a more unique piece of Gray's, especially after having SnappleMan perform the guitar. Although this piece is similar to the original, it is also very much different. Enough for me to say that it could be considered a remix of a remix, not just an improvement. Although I personally was very fond of the original, I enjoy this mix also. If you had a chance to listen to the original, you'll probably agree with me that the songs are very different.
I personally liked the older version, though it had it's flaws, it carried a slightly different tone and feel to it. I will admit the orchestration and flow of this version are MUCH better than before, and the guitars are really incomparable in quality. Still, I feel the songs portray different meanings, and I liked the meaning of the older song more... It was less airy, if you understand what I mean, it was more intense, more in your face, more decisive. More like you were flying to the star of darkness to finish what has to be done. The new version has more of a Vangelis new age feel to it, and SnappleMan's guitar is far more dominating than the original (though I can see why the other guitar was quieter ). Still, the new version takes on a new perspective, it focuses more on the distortion than on what was in the original song (thus making it more creative, and more of an interpretation, which is good ). It doesn't really follow the older version's mood at all, due to the instrumentation changes. This is one reason I sort of feel it's a remix of a remix, instead of just an updated version.
Now although I'm very fond of the original version of this remix, let me say some positive things about this mix. The instrument quality is far better, the interpretation is much deeper, and it really shows how much time Gray put into this to change the song so drastically. SnappleMan's guitar is pretty damn good, if you ask me, and I feel it enhances the song far more than the original guitar did.
A warning to those of you that have heard any of GrayLightning's more recent things, this is very different from them. This is far more new agey than his more current projects which take on a more cinematic feel, and are even more complex and shnazzy than this.
I highly recommend this download whether you've listened to the old version or not, and whether you've listened to his newer songs or not, or even if you've never listened to a song from GrayLightning. It's a great song, has a lot of elements you won't find in his more recent songs. It's a great song, and if you appreciate new age that's a little more edgy than Vangelis, you'll probably like it a lot.
Congrats to both Gray and SnappleMan on this mix, they've done a great job at remaking this, and if you take a listen, you'll agree with me.
on 2004-07-24 02:13:23
Well, I gotta' say, I really like it. But, I really hate the guitar solo in the beginning. The tuning is just so bad during that part. The rest of the guitar parts sound better as the song goes on, though. Sounds better than the version I heard many nights ago. Good job, guys!
on 2004-07-24 02:11:35
I think the main problem Gray and I had in this mix, was the freedom given to each of us. Gray pretty much gave me a completed song and said "okay, do whatever you want with the guitar, you have complete freedom." I didn't really know where to start with it, so I had Gray choose the tone that he liked best for the song.
In the end, I think it's a very good remix, but theres a problem in that I had no previous work on it, so going into it just to record the guitar was kinda awkward and unfamiliar. The issues some people may be having with it, are most likely because other than the guitar, no other elements of my style are in the song.
Anyway, it was a pleasure to work with Gray, and I'm very much looking forward to doing a full collaboration with him some time in the future.
on 2004-07-24 01:49:21
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