Posted 2010-01-04, evaluated by the judges panel

Well, another MAGFest has come and gone, and the long progression of continually evolving, improving, mutating ass-kickage has another chapter in its history. Brendan, Dom & co. kicked the year off right, and four days of VGM bacchanal ensued forthwith. I had originally planned to catch way more than I did, but Paris Hilton's namesake company sorta dropped the ball and OCR was left without a dedicated hotel room. Shael, Metroid Metal, virt, and Select Start were all great, and I'm a schmuck for all the other folks I missed out on - especially The OneUps. Anna wasn't feeling well Saturday night, and while I love video game music, there are in fact higher priorities. Thanks to all who attended our panel and suffered through apple juice for half price, duplicate slides, and my incessant ramblings. We got some great feedback & suggestions, made eight dollars, and later had sort of a judges pow-wow staff meeting thing where we tossed ideas around and discussed ways we can better serve both artists and visitors. Good way to start 2010, for sure.

But on to the music... Jay collabed on 'Kind of Green', but this is the first time we're seeing him and Stevo Bortz (aka Level 99, aka an integral part of the madness that is OCAD) on a separate mix of their own, and it's badass. Mr. Bortz writes:

"This is a song that was, from the get-go, envisioned to be an epic rock song. For those familiar with Final Fantasy IV's story, they know that what takes place at Castle Damcyan is a short, but pivotal and highly emotional, point in the game... The song is introduced by a dark and heavily atmospheric synth/pad/fx composition written by Avaris, and the fx present here are sprinkled throughout the rest of the song. The intro bleeds into an interpretive A section from the original Damcyan song with a basic chord lead. After the drums kick up the A sections melody gets a little more interpretive but still hovers around the original writing. A second guitar comes in and starts to compliment the first as it goes to the B section. Following this, the drums switch to prominently syncopating the rhythm guitar as the two lead guitars duel into the second B section. A new C section arises, which is an elaboration of the original chord progression from the song, with new writing on all the guitars. Wind sweeps in at the end of the section to take us to a memory of what Damcyan once was as a piano plays a major-scale progression of section A as children play in the background. And then bomb blasts at the end of this as the guitars all come back for one last bit of battling. The final section is supposed to convey a person walking through the ruins of Damcyan while a woman cries and two acoustic guitars usher an end to the dream that was Castle Damcyan.

Now, we really wanted to give feeling to the intensity of destruction at the Castle, and the broken dreams brought about by its demise. While Avaris did some FX and the intro, the majority of synths were played by AudioFidelity, along with the second lead guitar, the bass, the drums, the final mixing, the piano, and lastly adding in the ambient sounds. The song was led and arranged by me (Level 99) - providing the rhythm guitars, the first lead guitar, and the acoustic guitars later on. I hope you enjoy our remix of Castle Damcyan, and I'd like to thank OA for pushing so hard for the highest quality of mixes in the FFIV project. Thanks for listening!"

Is OA biased towards his own project's mixes? Who knows, but I agree with him on this one:

"While the arrangement does get a bit into the solos, the verse segment is played 4 times dominantly, and the chorus three times, and the rest of the song follows that chord progression of the verse. Now granted, the progression is 2 chords alternating, but I think it's pretty obvious they chose those 2 specific chords because those were the ones in the source. Otherwise why not pick a chord progression that was more interesting?

Production-wise, there's a little bit of mud, and I think the snare could stand to come out a bit more, but the guitar panning was cool, the acoustic guitar and bass sounded great. Piano was slightly thin, but overall i'd say production cleared the bar. I agree that there were a lot of solos, but there was tons of source in this, and it was clearly a (very good) Damcyan remix."

This piece just feels right to me... the energy, timing, and emotion all compensate for any other shortcomings. The voices of children, which could so easily have come off as gimmicky or just plain old poorly-mixed, were effective, spooky, and PART of the music, not just window dressing. The arrangement is on the liberal side but not ridiculously so, and the energy & atmosphere fit the narrative, epic focus like a glove. Great stuff from Jay & Stevo, who I hope to see again at M9.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2012-06-21 01:52:24

WOW.... I loved it... No need for words when music can be written like that - a rare talent.

A lot of people can play, and compose (even me) - but I can't do that... convey a succinct message through instrumentation

I loved it

on 2011-05-25 15:19:17

I've been listening to "Echoes" quite a bit lately (seeing as somehow I only recently learned about it) and every single time, something else jumps out at me.

Most recently, its this song.

Driving around in the car, it gets to the piano section towards the end, I'm thinking "Ok, its getting quieter, kind of sad, must be Edward.." Then, the sound of children playing fades in and instantly its DARK. Like, Sarah Connor's nightmare at the playground. Then the (laser?) bombs drop and it rips back into metal, and I get the chills. Like, literally my arms goose bumped.

Good work, guys

on 2010-07-09 13:14:03

This is simply amazing! The echoing children was a very cool touch that I imagine several people may have found slightly haunting. The guitars were so full of win in this ReMix. Easy example of the mix surpassing the original, in my opinion.

Martin Penwald
on 2010-01-24 11:40:14

I can't help but feel that the breakdown is in the wrong place, so to speak. I would've preferred to have it placed at the very beginning, i.e being an intro instead of a breakdown, standing for peace and happy days, which then get violently destroyed and result in the second, harder, guitar-heavy part.

audio fidelity
on 2010-01-20 22:11:11
I want to thank everyone for all the comments about the mix. They're all absolutely appreciated. What I intended with the song was to tell a story without words, and judging from some of the responses, I was at least moderately successful :nicework:

I won't speak too much but I couldn't have done any of this without Jay, as he definitely took all the ideas I wanted to implement and ran with them while adding a ton all his own.

Keep on rocking, folks. /obligatory shoutout to OA for awesome FF4 project/

i love you too buddy - lets rock out again soon :D

Level 99
on 2010-01-20 13:53:32

I want to thank everyone for all the comments about the mix. They're all absolutely appreciated. What I intended with the song was to tell a story without words, and judging from some of the responses, I was at least moderately successful :nicework:

I won't speak too much but I couldn't have done any of this without Jay, as he definitely took all the ideas I wanted to implement and ran with them while adding a ton all his own.

Keep on rocking, folks. /obligatory shoutout to OA for awesome FF4 project/

Nobbynob Littlun
on 2010-01-10 18:19:02

Regardless of your musical tastes, this is a song that - without lyrics - tells a story, and is worth giving a listen to. Nobou Uematsu would be proud.

on 2010-01-08 19:47:50

Love the call and responses going on with the original solos. I know that Larry called you guys borderline with usage of the source material, but I think it's the solos and the original rocking touches that give songs like these real character.

The breakdown at 3:20 is very emotionally jarring.

(Also I was thinking that this mix sounds a little lacking in highs, but I'm wondering now if it's these stupid headphones now that are muddying things up).

The acoustic part at ~4:40 at the end is honestly my favourite part of the mix. I know it's the closing and all, but it's all so fitting there.

Nice nice stuff. Level99, this is going to be only the first of many numbers that'll appear next to your name on this site :)

ella guro
on 2010-01-08 04:41:21

Congrats Jay and Stevo! I know you both were waiting very patiently to get posted.

I'm gonna edit this post with some thoughts as soon as I let things sink in.

on 2010-01-07 16:16:52

I think one of the more interesting things I noticed about this song is that two solos / leads were played simultaneously, panned left and right, while the rhythm kept going in the center. It gave it some stand-out character and I really like that uniqueness in production. Keep it up guys!

on 2010-01-07 03:21:37

I liked this song, but there are a few areas of repetition I felt could be cut out. The kids playing around in the background of the song about 2/3rds through is an interesting touch, as the song title suggests a desolate environment, yet there is an element of hope embedded there.

The end in particular also adds some flavor to the piece since the style seems to bring to mind a sort of resignation/acceptance. Of course all of this is made possible by the aggressiveness of the earlier portion of the song, but I think it could've used some heavier rhythm guitars, or at least more in front, to underscore the desolate mood.

All in all, pretty good, but would've loved to see a few things tweaked to tighten it up.

on 2010-01-06 14:50:02

One of the most emotional pieces on the album, this has some great transitions and separate sections that show a lot of different colors of a similar progression. The original source to me was decent but not outstanding, but this style of arrangement, especially the effect-laden acoustic outro really makes it feel.

Good stuff, homies.

Brandon Strader
on 2010-01-05 20:42:56

I'm sorry for how blunt my critique was. There's a big difference between writing for a zine and writing here, where the artists actually read what you have to say.

As for guitars being recorded the "proper way", I am really just not a big fan of the amp sim and the sound you get out of them. I prefer the half-stack or full stack with microphones recording guitars, but I realize that isn't financially feasible for most people. At any rate, you can disregard what I said about the amp-sim tone, but I still think the song would have benefited from multiple rhythm tracks.

Looking past the tones and number of tracks though, the arrangement is very well done and the song is a good adaptation and very enjoyable.

Sorry and thanks for understanding. ^_^

on 2010-01-05 20:00:17

This is the same as the version on the FFIV remix Album, right? Loved it then, love it now.

on 2010-01-05 18:28:07

Omg stevo is now an official oc remixer

level 99 is the man!!!

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Final Fantasy IV (Square , 1991, SNES)
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
"Castle Damcyan"

Tags (2)

Origin > Collaboration

File Information

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