ReMix:Pac-Man "Glass Cage" 4:50

By Israfel

Arranging the music of one song...

"Start Music"

Primary Game: Pac-Man (Namco , 1980, ARC), music by Toshio Kai

Posted 2005-09-16, evaluated by the judges panel

Avant-garde, post-modern, contemporary... Pac-Man? Seriously, someone could set Israfel's latest mix, a very slick, atmospheric, highly original arrangement of the Pac-Man theme, to an interpretive dance or performance art piece and it'd totally work. Highly conceptual stuff from Mr. Dover:

"This is a minimalist take on the main Pac-man theme, you know, that short 5 second diddy that plays in the arcade version. The idea of the piece is that the theme would repeat throughout the whole mix in one form or another- and that the theme would gradually become more recognizable as the music progressed. I thought of it like a TV getting a progressively clearer reception (incidently, a TV is one of the things that 'Glass Cage' refers to).

Sure it's a bit creepy and you might think that that doesn't really fit the "feel" of pacman; but c'mon, a guy trapped in a maze while being chased by ghosts, sounds pretty freaky to me."

To me, it's the perfect vision of what Pac-Man would sound like if his brief life story were analyzed, deconstructed, and made into an hour long exploratory performance art piece with choreography by Twyla Tharp. What drives a spherical yellow man to wander around, trapped in the machinations of his own maze-like patterns? What meaning does he derive from his conspicuous consumption, a clear critique on capitalism? And will he ever reconcile with the ghosts of his past lives, which still haunt him as terrible, blue, metaphorical manifestations? Questions Namco doubtless pondered at the time. Honestly, even though I'm an English major and love the arts, I do find post-modernism and deconstruction a bit silly at times. However, even when it is, the music that it gets set to is usually excellent, and this mix is no exception. It really reminds me of some of the Blue Man group tunes, largely because of the strong chromatic percussion presence and layered, metrical reuse of motifs. The ever-flamboyant Wingless, who himself needs to be deconstructed some time by a willing class of post-grads, writes:

"I'm always impressed with artists who can mold something out of nothing. I myself was contemplating doing the Pac Man theme, but in a sort of death-defying maximilist style. But enough about you, let's talk about me.

Isra always has a keen ear for nuance, emotion, and dynamic-landscaping. I especially enjoyed the different "movements" of the piece, from the opening crawl through the insane asylum where Pac Man has been kept all these years, to the deep spiral of his spider-woven thoughts, deep deep down into that twisted heart that bleeds obsidian tears into a well of irredeemable sorrow.

Daring. Deft. Dood."

How triune. This does have to be one of the very best examples of taking an extremely short but immediately identifiable game theme and arranging it into something mature, developing, and atmospheric. I'd use the term "academic" to describe it, but that sounds rather stale and lifeless, and that's not the case here; "intelligent" would be better word choice. Might not be for everyone, but as a would-be composer I respect the heck out of it, and I think almost anyone could both recognize the source material and appreciate the highly imaginative and musically effective way it's been utilized.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2024-05-23 15:47:25

Still a regular on my list after almost 20 years! Some of my favorite remixes are those that take the source in unexpected directions. With Pacman it's been "Glass Cage" and Sinergia, so far. Great dark take that holds up!

on 2012-07-02 19:38:43

This is neat. Inspiring. -- I mean, it would inspire me if I were skillful at manipulating orchestral instruments and articulations and such .. If someone were to tell me "create a Pac-Man ReMix" I would automatically think of "electronic," .. so this is very refreshing.

on 2010-12-24 15:03:58

Wow, this blows my mind right here. The idea that a five second tune can create something as dark, creepy and suspenseful as this is fantastic. It says with that tense feeling the whole way through and doesn't get overly frantic, so this ReMix definitely works for me.

on 2010-07-25 23:22:54

I decided to do some ReMix reviewing and decided to start here. I never read djpretzel's blurb before, but I thought it was quite funny that he starts out talking about how this could be used in interpretive dance or a performance art piece, 'cause that's precisely what I did last year.

As part of a group presentation in my 3rd year Movement Class, we used this piece of music at my request. We actually didn't incorporate the music until the end stages of the project, and we were amazed that the project perfectly fit the length of the music.

The movement piece was an abstract representation of descent. We each chose our own decent: the decent into madness, decent into drug abuse, decent into depression, etc. It concluded with a collapse into a sort of "black hole" where everything became fragmented and broken.

The music fit perfectly, and I thoroughly enjoy this piece. The way that the layers grow and build throughout the piece, the contrast between the sharp percussion and the smooth strings, it all works together so well. It's a real delight to listen to, and has such an eerie feel to it. At the same time, nothing stands out so much that it overpowers the music, and in the same way it didn't overpower the movement piece. We did not have to "dance" to the music, rather the music worked with us.

Glass Cage is a solid and powerful piece. Simply wonderful.

on 2010-05-29 17:54:41

A little Foggy Woods, and a little Haunted House. Mix these two and you'll come up with Glass Cage, a mysterious Foggy Haunted house sounding mix. I like it.

on 2010-04-07 15:15:31

Very cool. I can't believe this came from Pacman! It's ridiculous what you can do with so little. This is such an epic track from such a little theme. Very nice work.

on 2009-12-02 15:37:41

Wow, pretty epic stuff for Pac Man. Like ridiculously so. The theme is totally present, but it's not a terribly compelling theme. As an academic excercise, this is really interesting stuff, though as a piece of music i'd regularly listen to, I think it gets too caught up in patterns and not enough legato melodies (choir aside) to keep my extended interest.

Super props for pulling it off though, it made the source track sound like something huge.

on 2008-12-29 05:08:07

Ooooooh (though not to be proceeded by "ahhhh").

This one is real creepy. Eerie. Disturbing. Haunting. And simple.

I'd actually like to hear this mix played live... some parts might have to be a little tailored, but I think if I were in a packed concert hall and the lights went out and that marimba started playing, I'd soil myself (well, I might soil myself even before the marimba starts :/).

on 2006-01-07 08:17:12

How very creepy. It's like your watching a Pacman horrormovie where he shares his inner thoughts. He's walking the lonely corridor. He's following a track of cheese pieces, mostly to try to still his never-ending hunger he got when he was trapped inside this cursed maze. He continues to walk. And arrives at a fork. Will he take the left? Or the right?

Pearls of sweat begins to roll down his circular body, confused as much as you can be. He takes the left, NO, the right, NO again, he takes the left.

He feels the prescense of something else. His company has so far only been his thoughts, the weird cheeseballs and the monumental walls surrounding him. He continues his walk, only to realize that he's followed by a green quilt! He quickly starts running, but the green chaser comes closer. He races through the empty halls only to find more cheese but also new forks in the road, and somehow the creepy habitants behind him manages to gather in their pursuit of our round hero. He starts to grow weak, and the haunting but yet colored creatures draws closer.

He starts to lose faith, but then he sees one lonely cheeseball at the far end of the corridor. Why it's there he doesn't know, but he wants to find out before this weirdos surrounds him and puts him at the bottom of the high score list. His heart beats drums fast like it's been drinking several mugs of coffee, and when he finally reaches it, everything fades away, and a big glowing sign descends from he roof. It says ”Stage Clear”.

At least what I think of when I hears this, the marimba israfel has chosen sounds almost exactly like if your drumming on glass bowls, and it really contributes to the title. The strings makes a fenomenal work to enhance the fear this remix gives off, never thought that Pacman could be changed into something like this. Excellent work Israfel, excellent indeed. :D

on 2005-09-28 12:39:25

This mix reminded me of Metroid music, from the more recent games, with its choir samples and atmospheric strings and percussion surrounding a vague background tune.

This is background music at its finest; it's like the subtle and changing lighting, the perfect acoustics, and moody backdrop of a play that laughs at the actors in the spotlight that believe they're the reason the audience is enthralled.

Excellent work. :D

on 2005-09-21 10:49:28

3 seconds of silence? Could that be a John Cage reference? The first thing I thought of upon seeing the name was him and the aforementioned Philip Glass. Heh.

Uh, I don't really have experience on commenting on music, but I liked it. Par for the course for Israfel's stuff, it seems.

RimFrost the Tourianist
on 2005-09-19 21:22:29

I'm thinking of Magneto in X-Men ,imprisoned in a cage made of clear plastic. Close enough.

As for the song .. i liked it 8)


on 2005-09-19 13:59:54

I'm glad to see this on ocr for a number of reasons, which have all already been mentioned here.

Brooding stuff, Israfel.

Shael Riley
on 2005-09-18 17:19:45

Finally, some inovation.

on 2005-09-18 12:20:22

Reminds _me_ of Steve Reich, particularly Tehillim... looping percussion hit by vocals and strings, although without the repeated phase shifts. I just love the backing provided by the perc, providing the solid base for all the other voices to chime in.

I give it an A/A+ :D

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Pac-Man (Namco , 1980, ARC)
Music by Toshio Kai
"Start Music"

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