ReMix: Final Fantasy VI "This Hazy Place" 4:19

By Brand New Retro

Arranging the music of one song...

"The Serpent Trench"

Primary Game: Final Fantasy VI (Square, 1994, SNES), music by Nobuo Uematsu

Posted 2009-03-16, evaluated by the judges panel

Taking another break from SoS, we've got newcomer Brand New Retro, aka Liam Fairclough, with a very unique FF6 ReMix that split the panel a bit due to an unorthodox approach. Liam explains the concept:

"As I have particularly nostalgic memories of this track, I wanted to create a version that sounded a bit distant and hazy, like a past memory. I attempted to achieve this by recording some of the synth melodies to old analogue tape, giving a slightly warbled, aged effect. I'd like to think this track evokes nostlagic childhood memories of playing this wonderful game."

Source here is 'The Serpent Trench', which Quinn mixed all the way back in 2003. It's taken six years to get another arrangement of the same track, and this one's definitely different; sounds way more like Earthbound than FF6, really, with some very quirky and extremely nuanced sound design. These are some of the most interesting, modulated textures I've heard lately, with panning, filtering, phasing, verb, and other metrics all moving in synchronicity, to wonderful, hypnotizing effect. It's clear that Liam was shooting for a very specific concept, and that he succeeded - distant, hazy, hypnotic nostalgia that's one big head-trip. There's insect-like nano-percussion, evolving, aliasing digital textures, warm analogue pads, delayed/processed vocal fx, and tweaked fx of all sizes and shapes. Arrangement's there, too, although with the approach in question time seems to slow down and there's definitely repetition involved. It's almost the *point*, however, and conceptually I think it's within the boundaries of what I'd expect. There was definitely disagreement on this, so we'll start with naysayer AnSo:

"Another thing that struck me is that the piece is pretty repetitive. If you introduced one or two more elements, maybe the source melody but with another instrument, earlier in the song it would really help. Even some chord changes for 4 bars or something."

Fair enough - my mileage varied, and yours may too. It's sort of a Catch-22 - it'd be less repetitive if it were more melodically varied, but it'd probably be less hypnotic and transporting as well. Sometimes you gotta roll with the concept and see if the overall composition works. It worked for Vinnie:

"I LOVE this. I was totally feeling your concept, and I thought it really captured the mood you were going for. The textures were unique and incredible, especially the section incorporating vocals (?) at 1:08. This had an amazing sound and it used the source well."

Cain concurs:

"The textures in this are beyond awesome. Very BT. zyko kindly summed up my thoughts: everything sounds intentional. No one with a poor sense of production could create something like this, everything had to be done with intent. Not once listening to this did I ever feel like anything was out of place. I disagree with a lot of the crits on this."

The rest of the judges decision is definitely a recommended read, but either way you should check this mix out for something different and form your own opinions. For my two cents, it's excellent & enveloping head candy that also happens to take the form of a rather well thought-out video game arrangement, and I dig it.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Master Vash
on 2012-11-25 12:30:33

I've loved this song ever since it was published here, and yet I never said how much I love it. Shame on me.

I think everyone has one of those songs that speaks volumes to them without any words, but I hadn't really found it until this one. The atmosphere is amazing. It's ambience personified. It's... wispy and ethereal, fading in and out, whispering in your ear. Like a slow, stumbling, cloudy journey through the mind. It's like the background music of life.

It makes me a little sad inside thinking about how Brand New Retro never released another track here.

on 2012-09-21 16:38:24

The intro sounds very much like Radiohead on Amnesiac.

on 2009-12-22 02:14:10

I've found myself listening to this one a lot despite the unorthodox nature of the song. It must have taken some vision to pull this off with such refinement and competence, I really like the whispers and low-fi pads. The soundscape is weird, old-school, and very unique - this mix won't be for everyone but I personally enjoyed it a lot!

on 2009-12-09 19:37:00

In contrast to a creepy, crickety sewer intro, the mix lifts it face to what must be light at the end of the tunnel at 0:28. The sound at this point emits an aura akin to the glistening speeds in F-Zero, and the drums entering at 0:48 feel kinda Donkey Kong Country 2-ish. Everything after is as darkly sweeping as the Serpent Trench itself. Almost scary.

on 2009-05-24 01:05:06

This is almost a callback to the OCR of yesteryear; it's contemplative and unstuck from big ideas and concepts. It doesn't need them... It has its source melody and it does what it wants with it when it wants to. And that's very refreshing to these ears.

I have to admit, it took a second listen for the pieces to align and click in for me. The first time through it sounded like someone slowed down and distorted the hell out of a Mario Galaxy track. But for whatever reason, that facade crumbled and I heard what was going on.

Fantastic use of sounds, vocals included. They add such a spacey lift to the dark and fuzzy material. The production, while it doesn't stand up to some of the behemoths of the past few months, doesn't fail to impress.

This is really clever stuff and I'm overjoyed that OCR still finds the time for understated yet excellent submissions such as this.

on 2009-04-13 04:38:15

The ambiance of the whole song feels great and those voices give it a nice touch.

on 2009-04-12 08:13:31

love the payoff melody halfway through. The strings sound classy :) cheers

Martin Penwald
on 2009-04-02 16:28:55

Great atmosphere. This reminds me somewhat of Wolfgang Voigt/Gas, and that's a good thing.

The repetitiveness isn't really a problem, since it is, in my opinion, actually something that is necessary to produce the kind of relaxing mood found in this remix.

Nice work.

on 2009-03-31 11:28:34

Upon my first listen I wasn't entirely sure what my opinion of this remix was. However, since then I have returned to it many a time. I LOVE the atmosphere this remix sets and it is fitting, given the source.

It's already cool to see the less ... (popular?) tracks from a game be covered.

Great job!

Brand New Retro
on 2009-03-28 00:14:08

Curious, what elements did you record to tape? I'd thought about doing that for synths earlier to get a richer tone (or at least as an interesting experiment).

I recorded a couple of the synth melodies to tape multiple times to wear the tape a little, the tape recorder is rather old and has become a touch detuned over time it added a subtle but nice, warm tone :)

Thank you for the wonderful feedback guys and I'm working on another remix as we speak, I guess it's following a similar formula but that's how I generally approach all the music I put together. If anyone is a fan of the likes of Boards of Canada, Warp etc. ...that kind of style is my inspiration :D

on 2009-03-23 10:21:49

Just popping in to mention I really like this, despite my vote. Votes are one thing and personal taste is one. Good work, very unique stuff.

on 2009-03-20 12:56:23

Ok, very engrossing track. Somehow I lost 4mins of my life and don't know where they went. So I listened to it again and again.

Big fan of the FFVI soundtrack and feel that if the game was properly remade with current tech then this would be a strong candidate to be part of the OSV. As a track it doesn't rush to get anywhere quicker than it should, everything feels deliberate and as a result it works on a number of levels.

No rush, but looking forward to your future tracks!

on 2009-03-19 22:15:12

The ambience of this track is great. It puts me in a good 'space out' mood. But then again, maybe it's because I'm tired.

I'm amazed that the theme doesn't come in explicitly until over 3 minutes in. How did that happen without me losing interest (generally I'm a melody person)? Kudos on that.

Great genre adaption.

on 2009-03-18 23:32:31

Fairly major fan of the source, so I was getting pretty excited as I read the description and heard the approach you were trying to take to this. This turned out very unique, and really succeeds at creating an atmosphere similar to the original, buried somewhere, but in this case, in the past, right around the time FFVI came out.

on 2009-03-18 05:35:00

This is engrossing. The extremely nuanced design inside really sucks me in, and there is no point throughout that jolts me out. Not even a bump. The unique sound make the whole piece stand out all that much more. The boldness of some parts really does a lot to make this more than just a one-time journey, too, as I've had this on repeat for quite some time. Easily one of my favorite mixes of all time.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

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

Tags (3)

Electronic, Synth

File Information

6,310,318 bytes


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