ReMix:Marble Madness "raMble and Mess" 3:04

By Justin Tense

Arranging the music of one song...

"Practice Race (Level 1)"

Primary Game: Marble Madness (Milton Bradley , 1988, NES), music by Brad Fuller, David Wise, Hal Canon

Posted 2010-01-05, evaluated by the judges panel

This one's an interesting electronica track that's definitely gonna rub some folks the wrong way. Why? Well, it's very repetitive. Sure, so's the source, but newcomer Justin Tense has crafted a 3+ minute mix where, the majority of the time, you've got the same octave-jumping 16th-note synth motif going on. Obviously, if it literally just repeated verbatim, we wouldn't be having this conversation and the panel wouldn't have passed it. Justin modulates the motif quite a bit timbrally, and the texture and accompaniment both evolve over time. In a weird way, it's like Philip Glass meets perky electronica meets Marble Madness. The artist writes:

"I grew up with the NES and the music of it’s gaming era as well as that of it’s big brother the SNES helped shaped my mindset into loving electronic music as much as I do today. I wanted to remix a track that was originally produced by the one man that has influenced me the most in my electronic music productions, David Wise. I wanted to stay faithful to the original production as its simplistic yet hypnotic tune will be forever remembered as one of the tracks to the soundtrack of my youth."

I did find myself Zenning out a bit, getting lost in the constant, incessant pattern and hypnotically following the subtle variation. I think, if you left this mix on loop for too long, you could go quite insane. In the membrane, even. Personally, in single doses, I dig it - it's a good example of taking something short, simple, and straightforward and maintaining that purity while adding depth and subtle gradation. Shariq writes:

"Source is pretty simple, so I figure this will primarily be a groovy-oriented mix. Ah, pretty cool old-school sound. I don't mind the 16-notes that much; they go just far enough and change just in time before things get annoying. Pretty good job with the variation, considering the source."

Jimmy adds:

"Aight, let's see what can be done with an 8 second loop :) Gotta admit, despite my skepticism I'm leaning on the same side as Shariq on this one. I'm a minute and a half into it, and Justin's actually done a pretty good job varying it up so far. Changing up the groove and the textures, which is pretty critical with such a ridiculously short source tune."

I think having some nostalgia for the source material helps, digging electronica certainly won't hurt, and having the patience to observe and appreciate small change over time is key. If you do have those three things going for you, chances are you're gonna dig this, otherwise maybe not so much. Either way, it's a distinct and - dare I say - challenging bit of electronica VGM action, mixing a classic NES score. Nice title, too!



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2012-07-18 11:15:07

This one took me a little while to get into because of the repetition, but there isn't a whole hell of a lot you can do all things considering and without the subtle variations, I think it could have been a lot worse. Taking a source like this one and making a ReMix out of it that is decent like this one is a nice little feat. This particular one isn't the kind of thing I'll have on repeat, but it was good and it was nice first showing. Keep it going.

on 2012-06-02 21:56:12

I listened to this one after hearing his latest remix. I really enjoyed the style in this mix, addicting describes my feeling of it. I'm actually enjoying the repetition in this one, it expands enough to keep it interesting. The song does a nice job of flowing between each variation. I never get tired of that little loop. I thought this was a great debut, nice remix.

I like discovering the subtle variations in each iteration of the loop.

on 2011-12-07 12:43:11

Tricky source to cover. As much as I like Marble Madness, seeing someone adapt to a source with less than 8 measures in length (in this case 4) looks like a really difficult task to even pull off.

But from what I'm witnessing, there's enough consideration to the chord timings in the opening pads that do help, as do the subtle rhythm synth modulations throughout. It does help to break the monotomy a bit by going into a nice little breakdown before aiming for the ending - nice move there. The production quality is definitely up there for the pitched instruments used as well, so that's definitely a plus.

People have already had the arrangement thing bang on the head, but if you're going for an electronic mix, then I'm not really sure if a muffled drum kit is the best way to go about it. In mixes like that I generally have a preference for my snares to be sharper at least, but if the intent is to take it into this more laid-back setting then I can live with it.

So I guess I'm kind of torn over this one. It does well to break the monotomy at times, though even then there's not a right lot that can be offered after those first few listens. It's still a decent debut, and I hope you'll come back to OCR with something else one of these days :)

on 2010-12-10 23:40:35

Considering the length of the source, there is a heck of a decent amount of expansion. That being said, this does carry on a little long for my tastes. I think cutting out 45 seconds to a minute could have achieved a more condensed, compact result that would have had the right amount of expansion and variations vs. repetition. Personally, I enjoyed it anyways!

Martin Penwald
on 2010-01-26 16:14:06

Nice, happy song. I can see how the 16ths may rub some people the wrong way, and I, too, would've liked for them to be more subdued, but overall, I'm okay with it. I also find the small changes and variations throughout the song very interesting to listen to; instead of just going intense/breakdown/intense, the changes are small and subtle; they're a joy to discover.

Nice work.

on 2010-01-07 15:28:46

doooo, deeee doooo, daaaa doooo.

on 2010-01-07 12:45:15

While well put together, repetition aside, could have added a bit of extra oomph to it. While some nostalgia loves love the mix , those of us with a lil less "madness" in our history wil be a tad more picky. I enjoyed the trance-ride that I got from the song, just wish there was a bit more to it as ya went along.

Overall though: Very nice and enjoyable. Quick and bubbly. And a reminder of game with more play in mind than music. I may go find the source to see the inspiration.

on 2010-01-07 03:53:43

This is a pretty happy sounding song.

On first listen, I felt like this song was pretty repetitive from about 0:33 and on. I know the variation is more subtle in the song, but perhaps the volume on some of those aspects should have been brought out a tad more for the perfect balance the way it's arranged.

It's certainly not your everyday song to appear on OCR though, that's for sure!

on 2010-01-06 15:22:38

What is just intense are those 16ths. :o

I'm still a little torn on this one, but I think that the people can decide! Power to the people! I'd enjoy it more if those 16ths were more subdued, and possibly if there were some more legato passages to mix it up.

Johnny B
on 2010-01-06 11:51:19

Most people probably noticed already, but the title of this remix is an anagram of the title of the game. That is just intense, Justin Tense.

Less Ashamed Of Self
on 2010-01-06 01:57:10

I was psyched to see a marble madness mix primarily because I'm a big fan of a different source tune from the same game. Then when I read the review saying it was an electronic song that would rub people the wrong way I got even MORE excited.

Then... meh. It's not bad, the instrumentation is solid, and I'm sure it's very loyal to the source but frankly... considering what DOESN'T pass the panel these days I'm a little surprised this one did. I just find it pretty boring.

I can deal with repetition if it's subtle... repetitive doesn't seem to be as fitting a word as obnoxious.

But hey, some mixes grow on you and at 3 minutes and change I bet I'll be eating my words soon enough.

on 2010-01-06 00:59:35

The Philip Glass reference is pretty apt. Interestin' stuff to be sure.

on 2010-01-06 00:24:55

I went ahead and walked around listening to this. At first, no side effects. Then I sat down to work on some homework...


Actually, insanity aside, this is quite good. The nostalgia factor is sadly lost on me, but I still enjoy this a great bit. Nice job, Justin!

on 2010-01-06 00:15:47

Very enjoyable; and yes this is very nostalgic. Indeed I DO have it on repeat. Great piece!

on 2010-01-05 22:41:30

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

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Marble Madness (Milton Bradley , 1988, NES)
Music by Brad Fuller,David Wise,Hal Canon
"Practice Race (Level 1)"

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