ReMix:Sonic the Hedgehog "Cryptic Marble" 5:15

By DistantJ

Arranging the music of one song...

"Marble Zone"

Primary Game: Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega , 1991, GEN), music by Masato Nakamura

Posted 2005-10-18, evaluated by the judges panel

I love the Marble Zone theme; it inspired one of my better (if not my best) ReMixes, Love Hurts, as well as an excellent, more recent rendition from Joshua Morse, and just feels very complete, original, and memorable to me as a self-contained piece of game music. It's one of those pieces that I'd tend to hold up as solid, irrefutable evidence that there's plenty of creative and conspicuous compositions being composed specifically for games that are just as substantive as anything you'll find elsewhere. Newcomer Sam B., alias DistantJ, becomes the first to drift away from the funk/jazz motif that's been applied to the piece thus far and go all techno/electronica on us, and fortunately both the piece itself and the mixer's abilities are flexible enough to pull it off. Sam does a good job of building to the theme verse introduction at 0'45" without giving away the source, and 1'13" sees yet another build, with the uber-identifiable E-MU Shakuhachi (aka the 'Enigma' shaku - perhaps leading to the 'Cryptic' title?) as its cliched but still effective harbinger, setting the stage for 1'47", where the power chorus kicks in. This mix actually takes the exact opposite approach that Morse's Marble Dash did - where Josh focused almost solely on the verse and only had a brief cameo appearance for the chorus, Sam embraces the chorus and makes it the focal point. I'd like to think my own take is somewhere in between the two, but what I love regardless is that a single piece can have a strong enough verse and chorus that both can be used in such different ways, to different ends, but with success either way. Kudos to Nakamura-san for giving the world a track with truly contortionist compositional flexibility when it comes to arrangement. DistantJ writes:

"Though I don't usually dedicate as much time and attention to my videogame remixes as I do my original pieces, I got a little carried away here. This is technically the third take on Marble Zone I've done, and goes a lot further than the previous ones did. I simply applied the genre-rule-bending nature of a lot of my original work to a videogame remix. There are quite a few original sections in here, too."

I hope Sam decides to apply a similar level of effort to future mixes, as you can tell this has been revised and improved via an iterative process, even if he didn't say as much himself. The original stuff is very tastefully and cohesively integrated and never feels tangential or superfluous, and while the arrangement isn't amazingly intricate or the production flooring, both are wonderfully solid. There's meat-and-potatoes patches being used, sure, and there's aspects of the bassline and backing material that are staple foods in the trance arrangement world, but there's also some spices and garnish thrown in so the cookin' ain't one bit bland. The shaku can't help but evoke a certain late 80's/early-90's nostalgia, but that mixes with some edgier stuff in an interesting stew. I'm just impressed that Sam was able to get as much mileage out of the chorus and its underlying chord progression as he did, as most of the last third of the mix is anchored as such, with the verse closing things out. The ending is a little disappointing - a bit too abrupt, the longer verb trails aren't being applied to the synth-guitar like texture that's used, so the processing also cuts out, and it feels like even a fade out would have been preferable, so this is probably the single biggest beef I'd send Sam's way. Larry sums this issue up accurately in my book, but then segues to the larger picture:

"The ending/resolution was really weak at 5:10. The synths faded out too quickly at 5:13, without any significant effects on them for a smooth-sounding fade-out. The production and texture on this came a long way from some of your previous work, Sam. You really prevented clutter and clipping from being an issue for me, and I liked the result. The arrangement really changed up a great deal, so while some may be disappointed that this didn't stay in one place very often, and some of the melodic content deserved more personal flair and interpretation, the end result got the job done."

Strong, varied material that indeed gets the job done and gives the Marble Zone chorus equal if not greater love than the verse, providing a beyond-just-competent arrangement of a beloved theme that I think a whole bunch of people are gonna dig.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2013-11-02 16:59:51

OCR Talkback #7 brought me to this mix! Anyway, on to the remix. This is an awesome arrangement of Marble Zone, great work! I'm really feeling right when the bass comes in at 0:31, the rest builds from there. The second section of the source is sounding great in this mix. The bass really shines between 2:31 and 3:00. Overall, incredible remix!

on 2012-08-24 23:39:41

This was by far my favorite zone in this game. This song brings me right back to my parents living room in the middle of the night where i'd sneak into to play. Epic mix! :grin:

on 2012-06-27 19:16:23

I don't know how I ever missed this song over the years, but it is pretty freakin' awesome. It has aged quite well apparently. I love the ethnic temple-y vibe combined with the 4-on-the-floor dance beats. Nice!

Phonetic Hero
on 2012-06-27 19:12:33

YAYAY TEMPLE JAMS!! Great mix, in a genre I absolutely love doing myself :D

on 2011-04-19 13:35:59

Taking nothing away from DJP and the others who did such amazing ReMixes for Marble Zone, but this is my favorite on the site so far. I absolutely love the 80's/90's theme going on with trance and oriental sounds intertwined into it. It's really one of those songs you can get the feel for while listening to it. The only thing I'm not so fond of is the quick ending. Seems like it could have been spaced out or done better with a fade, but terrific ReMix nonetheless.

Jedi QuestMaster
on 2010-09-28 03:01:07

I just listened to this again; can't believe this artist only has this one remix to show for.

One of the best mixes I've heard here.

on 2010-05-05 11:28:12

Starting out with a pretty lush atmosphere, the build gets pretty intense; with the melody peeking out from behind the massive bass, and the support elements overpowering it. Some nice lead ins to 1:47 really bring out the drama, and make this exciting to listen to. There is plenty of open space in this one too that makes the melodic sections that much more hard-hitting without being too over the top, and overall this is a great mix.

on 2009-11-20 14:12:17

In my first listen through I was a little hesitant but the second the chorus hit I was hooked. Very hard hitting and energetic. I love the 80's-90's touches. This mix made me want to go back to my glory days of listening to Tears for Fears and playing my old Sega. Good feelings to invoke!

Mr Azar
on 2008-11-10 23:55:54

All these years later, and still great.

on 2008-02-09 01:28:11

Every time i listen to this song, I get chills. Any Sonic music I listen too, always unlocks a flood of nostalgic memories, both related and unrelated to Sonic. I especially love the 2:20 range (i think it is). Back in the day when I played the game, I think this is what I heard coming out of my TV speakers.

on 2006-12-15 01:41:39

Oh my god...

I love this mix. I was looking into making a mix of my own for something form Sonic, downloaded this to listen to, and was blown away. Everything from the mood to the sheer smoothness in the flow grab me and keep me listening to it. I especially love the wooden flute sounds (Probably not a wooden flute, but that's the closest instrument I can compare it to at the moment).

Sheer beauty.

on 2006-10-23 02:41:46

yes yes yes YES!! This is a GORGEOUS SOULFUL piece! I get lost in it! My imagination goes wild when I listen. Excellent and beautiful. I wish to hear more remixes from this artist. :D:D:D

Oh yah I also want to say I feel bad for those who cannot feel IT. Because THIS is IT!

on 2006-08-30 11:43:23

I can't help it, I just have to post again.

Every time I listen to this, it just get's BETTER!

Other people may complain, about the long intro, but I LIKE long intros!It keeps you guessing at what your listening to until the main line hits. AND I just LOVE the majestic melody at the begining, then at 30 seconds, the floor drops out from under you, sending you flying down into that deep, beautiful tunnel of sound that is...CRYPTIC MARBLE!!!

on 2006-08-13 20:38:03

HEll yes...this mix's my first recommendation (along with duck blur) to ppl who are interested in VG mixes

Geoffrey Taucer
on 2006-08-11 10:19:53

Absolutely amazing piece. The blend of ethnic and trance elements is unique and brilliantly executed. Definitely among my favorites.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega , 1991, GEN)
Music by Masato Nakamura
"Marble Zone"

Tags (4)

Regional > Japanese

File Information

5,131,224 bytes


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