ReMix: Max Payne "Tragedy of a Bullet" 3:58

By Neil Benjamin

Arranging the music of one song...

"Max Payne Theme"

Primary Game: Max Payne (Gathering, 2001, WIN), music by Kärtsy Hatakka, Kimmo Kajasto

Posted 2007-03-18, evaluated by the judges panel


And now for something completely different... Neil Benjamin, whose last mix was back in September of '04, returns with something that's unique on multiple levels. Honestly, I'm *really* not just saying that - this one's peculiar, artistic, and haunting. It surely won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're into vocalizing stuff with perhaps a bit of Radiohead influence, or have a love of all things Max Payne, you're in for a treat. I'm really glad Neil resubmitted this based on panel feedback, cleaning up the production a bit, because it's not only our first coverage of Max Payne, which was rather a landmark PC title, but it's also just compositionally intriguing. It's the type of ReMix I would put on a compilation CD illustrating the breadth and depth ReMixes can cover - nothing else on the site sounds like it, that's for sure. Mr. Benjamin wrote in his original submission email:

"i figured i couldn't do a better remix in the same style as my previous submission, 'to far away memories', so i decided to try a totally different style with this one. i tried an acoustic version of this ( with the same cheap-ass guitar :) ), but didn't like the result. though there are some sparse instrumentation, and sound effects here and there, most of the song is just my voice. it's got a bit of influence from 'radiohead', 'the black heart procession' and 'elliott smith'. the focus of the song is on max's grief. in a game where people are killed by the hundreds, i wanted to concentrate the emotion on the consequences of just a single gunshot. hence the name, 'tragedy of a bullet.'"

Pretty cool conceptually as well. Malcos writes:

"This is quite an original sub and will bring some diversity to the site. I'm in agreement with the comments already made, namely that the sparse background lends itself to the style of this piece. The mostly accapella style is quite gutsy and is pulled off well. It doesn't sound too polished, and that actually makes the piece more effective imo."

zircon and bgc represented the dissenting votes; they seemed to take more issue with the intonation and minimalist approach than others. If you've got perfect pitch and hate anything that's not 100% spot-on, yeah, you might take some umbrage on the vocal, but honestly, if you fit that description, there's literally tons of great music you'll never be able to appreciate, so I pity you. As for the minimalist approach - this type of arrangement isn't going to work for most pieces, isn't something I'd particularly want to hear zillions of permutations of, and is more suited to meditation or focus than background applications, but... I personally think it works. At times it achieves a spine-tingling effect not unlike some of the recent soundtrack work by ex-Dead Can Dance front woman Lisa Gerard. Interesting, different, expressive, and exploratory.

djpretzel

Discussion

Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
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Liontamer
on 2011-12-02 01:41:55
This must be one of the most polarizing mixes on the site. Personally, I think it's phenomenal. The emotion is so strong and heartfelt - I'm not even sure a better quality vocal would capture the same air of desperation. Great atmospheric effects, and the beat is just oppressive. I'm extremely glad that OCR took a chance on this one, it seems to have found its audience.

No idea why this mix ended up being polarizing, when it's obvious it has so much creativity and emotion behind it. There are aspects that could be improved in the execution (as were pointed out in our votes), but those were minor in the big picture. The vocals definitely weren't one of those things. The Radiohead comparison made all the sense in the world.

Whether a mix represents the mood or story of the game it's arranging makes no difference to how the judges vote. But that said, the backstory and imagery behind the mix completely justify the risky choices made here and add another unique layer of enjoyment.

The super extended intro and build. The minimalism. The vocals. Everything Neil did here comes together with such a synergy. Very, very cool.

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Palpable
on 2008-08-07 19:09:26

This must be one of the most polarizing mixes on the site. Personally, I think it's phenomenal. The emotion is so strong and heartfelt - I'm not even sure a better quality vocal would capture the same air of desperation. Great atmospheric effects, and the beat is just oppressive. I'm extremely glad that OCR took a chance on this one, it seems to have found its audience.

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ProjectSpam
on 2008-08-07 18:13:58

Alright, I didn't dig this remix before, but I have recently really gotten into Radiohead, and when this came up randomly while my iPod was on shuffle, I was amazed at how good this remix actually is. While very different from everything else on the site, the male vocalization and harmonies are just beautiful, and the minimalist percussion throughout is fitting. This is a remarkable interpretation. Wish I fell in love with it sooner.

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Mr_44
on 2008-07-29 00:56:29

I love this.

I like music to be raw and immediate; qualities which can be lost in the pursuit of perfection. It sounds like Neil was caught up in the moment when he made this, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

It's minimal, but there is a lovely narcotic effect to the whole thing that could have been compromised if it was made any busier. Excellent work.

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jayc4life
on 2008-07-19 18:30:33
Great piece to "break through" for such a memorable game.

Spine tingling.

I'm not a pitch perfect listerner but I have been listening to remixes for a while now and this one gets my vote.

What he said. I'm only finding this now but I think he's got the whole tragic feel to the game nailed to this song.

Although most of you that's posted mightn't have stopped to think about it, but maybe if you're that grief-stricken (assuming this is sung/wailed from Max's perspective, that is) then he wouldn't be too worried about whether he was pitch-for pitch perfect with the original.

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HoboKa
on 2007-10-09 04:38:33

Amen to that :D, Silent Hill does need more attention

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Inv1ctus
on 2007-10-09 04:37:16

wow this guy should remix the silent hill soundtrack! in fact someone get this guy to do it! I dont remember this track from the game but who cares its awesome! Its like the madison project meets the pixies meets videogame world, and its cool to see such alternative music on OCR.

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Fieari
on 2007-04-22 19:25:20

This song is amazingly beautiful. It's haunting, creepy, emotive, and very effective. The dissonance works as well as the harmony. I can picture something like Boondock Saints set to this, easily. Chilling and sad.

I've listened to this piece a dozen times so far, and it gets better every time, and I liked it to start with. Just listen to the difference tones made by the different voices. Hear how rhythms are created with only the voice. The high pitched piano tones merely emphasize the etherealness of it all.

The different voices, though all made by the same man, each have a distinct and specific personality to them, and this comes out in the song. Different flavors and varieties of mourning, from wailing agony to simple low-key despair.

It groans with feeling. This is awesome.

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Audity
on 2007-03-29 23:02:10

Back on VGMix 1, someone uploaded a version of this song that was either a direct rip, or had some small additions. Ever since, I've liked this theme quite a bit. I was hoping to hear more of the original in this, like at 2:12, but instead I was faced with vocals reminiscent of silent's In the Atrium.

I think 2:12 could have worked with or without drums, and "with drums" including some different sounding percussion than the ones used here; needed something more unique to fit the style of this mix.

The vocal bits remind me of the end of silent's In the Atrium OCR from Ninja Gaiden. Seriously check that mix out if you want to hear the exact same kind of "out of tune vocals." Some of them sound verbatim from that mix. I didn't like those kinds of vocals in silent's remix, and I don't like them here. It's supposed to be a style? Just sounds out of tune to me. Some of it seems stylish, but other times (which also seem deliberate), I just don't like. Regardless, I'll probably keep this just for the part that I wanted to hear (it's well-done).

Stories within mixes sometimes does not = casual listening, and that is the case here. With this, along with some other "flaws", of course people have very good reason to say it sounds terrible (though, as a fan of detail, elaboration on their part would be nice). But to not sound preachy (not that I want to), I'll stop here.

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area51999
on 2007-03-29 16:57:58

I think it's really cool. Never heard nothing like that before.

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Martin Penwald
on 2007-03-29 16:11:12

While not exactly my cup of coffee, I do acknowledge the quality of this piece. The voice sounds just fine to me, and I think it's a great idea to make a song like this one.

The thing that irks me a bit about it is the missing of any melody, or let's rhythm, until 2:12 when the drums come in. This moment, the whole thing improves quite a bit.

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TheWalkingBox
on 2007-03-27 09:31:26

Great piece to "break through" for such a memorable game.

Spine tingling.

I'm not a pitch perfect listerner but I have been listening to remixes for a while now and this one gets my vote.

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HoboKa
on 2007-03-27 00:27:49
I've always wanted to make a cappella piece similar to this. After reading the judges' decisions, I'm now a bit afraid to step up since I'm also thinking of putting no background instrumentation whatsoever, unlike this piece. After all, it is called cappella for a reason, eh?

In the same time, however, this piece inspired me that anything is possible. Very haunting and ambient stuff here. Love it. You have some nice pipes on you, too. Sure, people critisize the flaws here and there, but to me they're being too picky since the great stuff in this track overpower the minor "sloppy vocal execution" parts. Also, the instrumentation is more than enough for a genre like this. If Neil put in more instruments, the haunting voice would've been hidden in the background, thus eliminating the purpose of this remix.

Very nice work, Niel. I'm hoping that my upcoming ReMix has the same quality of this one.

Amen to that! This song is fine the way it is. It's impossible to cater to every one's taste anyways, so don't let the haters effect ya :D

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SwordBreaker
on 2007-03-23 19:02:57

I've always wanted to make a cappella piece similar to this. After reading the judges' decisions, I'm now a bit afraid to step up since I'm also thinking of putting no background instrumentation whatsoever, unlike this piece. After all, it is called cappella for a reason, eh?

In the same time, however, this piece inspired me that anything is possible. Very haunting and ambient stuff here. Love it. You have some nice pipes on you, too. Sure, people critisize the flaws here and there, but to me they're being too picky since the great stuff in this track overpower the minor "sloppy vocal execution" parts. Also, the instrumentation is more than enough for a genre like this. If Neil put in more instruments, the haunting voice would've been hidden in the background, thus eliminating the purpose of this remix.

Very nice work, Niel. I'm hoping that my upcoming ReMix has the same quality of this one.

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Wicked
on 2007-03-23 09:36:49

After listening to it several times, I have to say that I really enjoy this one. Definitely has a quartet under a street light feel to it, slightly flawed vocals and all. I think the word "charm" has been used several times but it's fitting, it definitely has charm.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)


Primary Game:
Max Payne (Gathering, 2001, WIN)
Music by Kärtsy Hatakka, Kimmo Kajasto
Songs:
"Max Payne Theme"

Tags (5)


Genre:
Ambient
Mood:
Dark
Instrumentation:
Piano, Vocals: Male
Additional:
Origin > Resubmission

File Information


Name:
Max_Payne_Tragedy_of_a_Bullet_OC_ReMix.mp3
Size:
5,565,512 bytes
MD5:
76d68b3df35d5baf3589e300e5a57e17
Bitrate:
184Kbps
Duration:
3:58

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