ReMix:Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty "Solid Snake's Cigarette Break" 3:13

By Alexander Bornstein

Posted 2010-08-30, evaluated by the judges panel

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER... Newcomer Alexander Bornstein gives us this nifty jazz take on MGS2, with an appropriate-if-unapproved-by-the-surgeon-general title, writing:

"The theme from the first two Metal Gear games have long held a special musical place for me. Hearing the original HGW arrangement for the first time took the credibility of the game to a new level. It's a very expressive idea, and was versatile in conveying the heroism and emotive qualities of the Metal Gear games which themselves were very large in an emotional scope. Jazz is also amazingly versatile in expression, and hearing the minor keyed quality of the theme with the unique synergy of a piano trio and distinctly Jazz influenced harmonies (like those used by Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, or McCoy Tyner) seemed like a curious experiment. I was really excited to hear the results, and hope you enjoy this take on such a well known theme. The piano, bass, and drums were performed by myself."

I do love this theme to death, and consider it one of the most memorable modern VGM motifs, but its reputation was a little tarnished for me after watching this video illustrating the similarity to Sviridov's classical composition from 1974. I'm unaware if this was ever resolved 100%, but even if there was absolutely zero influence or even exposure, the Russian piece does at least have "first dibs" on substantive portions of that melody. There's definitely some great stuff in both pieces that's not mirrored between them at all, but the similarity is rather identifiable.

At any rate, none of that is particularly pertinent to the enjoyability of this ReMix, which does a great job concocting a smokey jazz vibe, perfect for taking a break from all that tactical espionage and getting a brief, cancerous infusion of nicotine. Is Snake a Marlboro Man, or does he prefer Camel? Or does he listen to Don Draper and go with Lucky Strike? Judges pretty much agreed that the introduction was weaker than what followed; DarkeSword writes:

"I think it's solid enough, though I wish there was more going on in that ride pattern. Walking bass is solid, comping picks up after 1:19 and really locks in. Yeah, that percussion could've worked more with the other players. It's cool though. Great arrangement, really intimate. Perfect title too. I dig."

Deia adds:

"I can agree with Vig that the performances overall are not great, but when things get going I think they do the job decently enough. I would definitely like to see you improve, because there are some great ideas going on here that will only sound better as your skill increases in playing."

I think it's really a question of timing, specifically; I think I get what the intention was in the intro, and I do love the voicings, but having the timing be immaculate (and by that I do not mean quantized, for clarification) would have let the first minute contrast as more bottled-up & neat, giving the uncorking at 1'19" a wonderful, anticipatory context. So it's not completely smooth sailing, and Snake might be coughing a couple times what cause his smokes aren't filtered, but the arrangement is solid, the recording is clean, and the performances do get the ideas across. The title suggests a mental image that I think Mr. Bornstein's arrangement delivers on, which is all you can ask, and I'm interested in seeing what he does next.

Oh yeah, because someone somewhere might actually - through some bizarre series of asinine mental backflips - infer that OC ReMix is condoning and/or encouraging smoking cigarettes in any way, let me clarify that this is NOT the case. Snake can just get cloned again, but most of us aren't so lucky, and also they're expensive, the more you know, etc.



Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2013-04-19 18:48:22

I enjoyed this one when it first came out, and still do.

The performances are nice in this one, and the source chosen is complimented in this style.

The recordings are very retro, and it kind of feels like you applied every recording technique that was used back in the jazzy days here. It of course sounds a little clearer, but still, great job on that.

on 2013-01-06 15:34:27

Snake had too few peaceful breaks like this: but I' sure the Wise Warrior would have fully savored each and every moment of such a musical respite.

on 2012-12-30 14:02:56

This is just so lovely. Goosebumps start to finish. There needs to be a spin-off to OCR that's just jazz and blues remixes. (Although, yes, why 128 :( )

on 2012-09-15 19:02:13

Didn't really feel much of anything until the music really kicks in about 1:20. After that, it was like someone woke up and picked it up. Very jazzy and cool, but not exactly my kind of jazz. Still, aside from the slow start, I dug this ReMix a bit more than I thought I would. Not bad at all.

Martin Penwald
on 2010-09-05 15:45:16

Definitely going on my jazzy remix playlist. The beginning (i.e. until 1:19) is a little rough around the edges, but everything is forgotten and forgiven once the main melody kicks in.

Very smooth and relaxed. Exactly how I like it.

Thin Crust
on 2010-09-02 17:25:25
Snake can just get cloned again

Actually, no he can't. Seems that his telomerase was inactivated a little too early in utero.

on 2010-09-02 04:46:35

Why in 128 kbps? :|

On the note, I love this rendition, well done.

JH Sounds
on 2010-09-02 01:00:31

OverClocked ReMix does not condone smoking snakes.


on 2010-09-01 19:57:34

I love this kind of jazz, and this is one of my favorite remixes in recent months. I wasn't sure it would work for this theme, but I think you pulled it off. The harmonic choices were good, the tone warm and fuzzy, the development of the theme nice. I'd like to hear that melodic line get a little thicker and/or more ornamented in places. But overall very nicely done. :-)

on 2010-09-01 11:27:11

I think the really basic drums add a ton of the character to this mix, with the lazy hisses early on, and some nice rhythms for the second half.

Doing the usually dramatic theme in such a chill way is pretty inspiring though, makes me think about a lot of other melodies in ways I haven't before. :-)

on 2010-08-31 14:48:17

Solid stuff here. Good arrangement ideas here. Definitely would like to see you push the envelope more :). Looking forward to hearing more from you.

on 2010-08-31 10:58:48

Ambience out the ass here. Absolutely screams of a smokey London wine bar, filled with light chatter, fine cigars, and the clinking of glasses, set against a wood-paneled backdrop.

Oh, yes, I dig. I really hope Mr. Bornstein keeps it up.

Chris ~ Amaterasu
on 2010-08-31 05:40:18

I like the atmosphere this piece creates, and I really started to enjoy it when it started picking up some pace, I'd also like to frequent this fictitious bar =)

on 2010-08-31 00:13:54

Heh, there's no doubt that the Russian piece is the inspiration behind the Hideo's franchise theme, they're so similar. This doesn't constitute plagiarism, I don't think, because the two themes differ enough. But, as it has been pointed out, the MGS rendition is waaaayy better. And the jazz is nice btw

EDIT: I think it was plagiarism if credit wasn't given to Sviridov, as it seems it wasn't since it took everyone by surprise when the similarity was pointed out. But I don't know that it constitutes copyright infringement, since the creative works differed enough. I'm not sure, though, since, at least in the original MGS theme the whole structure seems to follow Winter Road so closely. I dunno

Also, I take back that the MGS theme is waaaay better. After listening to Winter Road several times, I think it's extremely beautiful

on 2010-08-30 22:36:07

Omg I love Jazz and I love this!

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Konami , 2001, PS2)
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams,Norihiko Hibino,Rika Muranaka,Tappy Iwase
""Metal Gear Solid" Main Theme"

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