Posted 2008-09-06, evaluated by the judges panel

Interesting mix from newcomer Olarin, aka Bradley Mellen, which was an entry to SquareSound's Uematsu competition that our own Larry Oji judged and which zircon won with his 'Dirt Devil' entry way back when. It's sort of contemporary classical...ish... or at least close enough to coincide with our recently conducted interview of composer Patrick Zimmerli, who works in said genre and scored a single PC game back in 1997 - we wanted to juxtapose veteran Tim Wright's interview with a composer who was, like so many, only very briefly involved in game scoring. As far as we know it's the only interview he's done with regards to the game he scored, so it's also an exclusive of sorts, besides being a good read. Check it out, and check out his original stuff on his site. Back to the mix, though, Bradley writes:

"I've been meaning to put together a submission to OCRemix for a long time; recent purchase of a brand new iMac with Logic Studio made it much easier to make recordings, and the recent SquareSound competition gave me an arbitrary deadline to go ahead and get something together for.
Everything in the arrangement was recorded by myself on double bass, violoncello, and guitar."

Mr. Oji, judging the same piece a second time, writes:

"As I mentioned, some parts of the performance felt a little too loose; the harmonization from :40-:44 (and 1:33-1:36 in the background) fell a bit flat IMO. Some moments in the comping felt odd, but everything resolved well. Overall, pretty solid. My score didn't necessarily belie that (the competition was fierce), but this was one of the standouts of a packed contest. Hopefully the other Js feel this is good enough as well. Certainly hope we hear more from you, Bradley!"

Judges were a mixed bag on this one, citing loose timing and tuning on the performance and unbalanced EQing on the production. I personally had less of a problem with the timing (I agree with zyko that it adds a cafe-style intimacy) and the EQ, but the tuning did bug me the first couple times through. If you listen to it at low volumes or from another room, the issue is exacerbated, but either way I think the charm and character of the overall piece wouldn't have been compromised by some tighter tuning. I can't talk too much, though, since I can't play a single instrument as well as Bradley can play three. Arrangement is hot, and the soloing on bass is especially atmospheric, channeling an almost maudlin, Tom Waits' attic type of setting. As of right now it's been raining for almost a day, non-stop, and this type of moody, intimate instrumental is appropriate for the overcast, nesting-instinct weather. zyko does loose timing and similar atmospheres quite well himself, so his words seem especially relevant:

"i don't have as much a problem with the timing as a couple of the other judges. like anso pointed out, the timing forces the piece into the audience's personal space... it is very intimate... very cafe-like and i'm all about that.

the orchestration is certainly fantastic. i've long been a huge fan of acoustic guitars, upright basses and cellos as a unit... i think so much can be accomplished and expressed with it. the arrangement is solid, too... it effectively visits the theme, builds upon it with variation then heads into a solo section and then ends with a culmination of sorts."

This is definitely something different and unique on OCR, and in spite of some issues succeeds in creating a peculiar atmosphere and developing a solid arrangement of the well-known FF6 source.



Latest 14 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2011-12-28 19:38:00

Ah, the Phantom Forest. I got to say it's one of my personal favorite songs from the score simply because of the beauty for it :)

The recording quality may not be the cleanest all the way around, but the instruments were for the most part very well emphasized and managed to stand out well. The double bass performance comes off as ridiculously sloppy though, which makes it hard to try and keep focus here.

With those qualms out of the way early, this can be seen as a somewhat classy arrangement, with some nice layering work taken throughout and some interesting panning work with various additional layers of double bass and cello being panned in various places in the stereo field, capturing what may be seen as a more mysterious approach to the forest setting. The improv skills within the second half showed a lot of great colors as well; if anyone else on that site tried to do that kind of performance on a double bass they'd probably blister in half the duration; takes some endurance and creativity to really put that together.

So, not the best production setups seen, but with that kind of performance ability we can definitely see you going places. Hopefully you'll be back sooner than we think :)

on 2009-12-19 23:23:56
A very classy arrangement, but the sound just gives me 'bad acoustics' vibes.

Enough has been said about that, so lets focus on the strong points.

Agreed and I won't rehash that here.

This mix reminds me of the scene in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown where Snoopy, as the WWI flying ace, has already been shot down and is crossing the French countryside by night. This mix also even has a similar mood to it, a uniquely mellow, slightly dire, "searching the night" feel to it.

Ultimately though I'm ripping out my hair trying to decide if I like this or not; it does just as many things right as wrong. .

My recommendation is just go see for yourself.

on 2008-12-06 20:29:55

I love live strings and these are great, very well done.

on 2008-11-03 11:11:03

Everybody has been pretty spot-on so far with the criticism. The tuning bothered me the first time I listened to this, but on this listen right now, after a very long time, I don't even notice it. Timing I have no problem with. The reverb is so big though, I don't buy the "intimate cafe setting" scenario. It sounds more like a school performance in a gym, you know. It's a downer on an otherwise fine track. But listening past that, it's very enjoyable.

I really like the instrumentation and their collective sound, even while it is not super hifi. I like the double bass solo tremendously. The violincello has some lovely little supportive figures during the solo. Hmm.. is this a virtual quartet, or did you restrict yourself like that?

I didn't keep this when it was posted, but now I definitely will!


on 2008-09-15 17:14:42

A very classy arrangement, but the sound just gives me 'bad acoustics' vibes.

Enough has been said about that, so lets focus on the strong points.

This is a very personalized and intimate sounding mix, where it sounds like you guys set up in my back yard for a somewhat informal jazz concert.

Great solos, and though the performances are really loose, I think it works overall, and it's something nice and unique for OCR.

Arek the Absolute
on 2008-09-10 18:30:16

Very nice.

Zyko is totally right about the cafe comment.

I can dig it.

on 2008-09-09 18:21:49

I'm always interested in truly acoustic tracks here, and you've arranged a favorite of mine.

I can deal with the performance issues and tuning, BUT what I really can't deal with is the recording and post-processing. The cello barely sounds like a cello. It almost has a violin quality; too much high-end, and where's all the low-end (yes I know it was in a higher range)? There is also about 300x too much reverb on everything. I'm not sure what your recording was made with, but you could stand some better recording techniques or better equipment, or both.

The quality of the music is fantastic in general but the recording quality is just a real let down. Also, very short and the ending is "meh".

I don't mean to be harsh, but to me, this sounds like a "WIP, version 0.5". As in, you've got a great arrangement started and here's a super-rough demo to show a friend. Now you need to extend, polish, and then do a great performance with some great recording equipment. I wish you were near me, I'd offer to record it myself.

on 2008-09-09 14:37:06

I really love the style and groove but I can't really stand the off notes, the bass at the beginning is out of time too much for me to feel it before 25~ seconds. It's pretty off all the song, the instruments behind sound perfect in timing and notes, the bass takes too much place, but hey, I guess jazz songs are often like that, reason why I can't say I like all jazz. The overall sounds isn't perfect but i think it fits the song perfectly, the exact same thing, with the bass track redone would be a really great song imo

on 2008-09-09 13:51:01

I like this mix quite a bit, but I do have a couple of complaints.

First the complaints. I think the EQing really is an issue. There is a bit of 'hiss' going on, so I can't really listen to it at loud volumes or it becomes very noticeable. Also, the length bothers me a bit. For being such a jazzy, and intimate piece, it ends far too soon. Something a little longer, maybe touching the four-minute mark would help it resolve a little more for me, but it just feels like it ends when it's just getting really groovy.

But I love the feel of the track. This would not feel out of place while listening to the Waking Life OST or Coltrane. It is very jazzy and very stylish and the overall atmosphere really pulls me in. The loose timing compliments the atmosphere, and I personally love that in songs. Same with loose tuning. It honestly just sounds like there are a lot of blues notes in there, not quite being as high or as low as they're 'supposed' to go, which is another very common jazz/blues technique. To me, that's what really gives this piece its character.

Overall, it's a nice mix, and a welcome addition to my FFVI mixes and my jazz collection. =)

on 2008-09-07 18:40:12

instantly reminded me of the "Braid" soundtrack...=p

on 2008-09-07 00:37:49

Good effort, however, I have relative pitch.. so I guess you already know how I reacted to the piece. Nevertheless good effort.


on 2008-09-06 23:33:30

Oh, props. I live in the same area as djpretzel and I agree: this is perfect for the curl-up-with-a-cup-and-watch-it-pour, sure-glad-I-live-on-a-hill weather. I understand why one might fuss about the timing but, as has been said, it does create a more intimate setting, a one-on-one between composer and the listener-as-individual, as opposed to the man of the crowd. I very much appreciate the cozy atmosphere evoked by this piece and hope to see more of its like in the future.

on 2008-09-06 17:19:45

Very cool concept. Love the jazzy feel, really fits nice with the melody. My favorite part starts at 2:20, that part is really awesome.

I'm not sure if I like the processing. I feel like the piece is supposed to be set in a small cafe, but the performance is in a huge hall. I think that's personal opinion, though.

The timing doesn't bother me, but the intonation does. It's off enough that it draws my attention to it, distracting me. If that were fixed the mix would be golden.

Also, as a side note, I don't think the Judges Decision thread is visible. It's telling me I don't have access to view.

on 2008-09-06 16:52:03

What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Final Fantasy VI (Square , 1994, SNES)
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
"The Phantom Forest"

Tags (16)

Acoustic,Acoustic Guitar,Cello,Strings
Arrangement > Extended Soloing
Origin > Competition
Production > Live Instruments
Production > Live Recording
Time > 3/4 Time Signature
Time > Tempo: Moderate

File Information

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