ReMix:Gunstar Heroes "Square Zero" 3:43

By Eino Keskitalo

Arranging the music of one song...

"4 Stage"

Primary Game: Gunstar Heroes (Sega , 1993, GEN), music by Norio Hanzawa

Posted 2013-12-30, evaluated by djpretzel

There's still room left in 2013 for a couple more mixes! Up first is newcomer Eino Keskitalo with one of my favorite tracks off Be Aggressive!, a superb chip/prog/synth-rock jam that's chock full o' musicality, intricacy, & creativity. This mix seriously has it going on, with searing guitar, plenty of synths, unrelenting energy, & some very tasty drum work, especially on those fills. Eino writes - at length:

"I had given Gunstar Heroes a spin some decade ago, but really got to know the greatness of its soundtrack via following the Be Aggressive! project. Such excellent music, such an excellent project concept.. and what a kick-ass preview! Dice-Dance-Days, a superb track among many superb tracks, was left unclaimed for the longest time and I decided something should be done.

Likely inspired after collabing with Twobeers McKeg on the Shell Shocked album, the finished track is full of guitar. I'm a crappy player, so it's (almost) all recorded in bits and pieces, and edited together like a musical Frankenstein's monster. A huge learning experience for me.

The arrangement largely follows the excellent original. The structure is pretty much the original ABCDE, looped twice and a longer stretch of the A part in the middle. Even the drumming and the bassline are pretty directly transcribed from the original during the first half. Most of the parts from the source are used in the arrangement, but their balance is different from the original. There is also plenty of new material (especially on guitar).

An obnoxiously detailed walkthrough follows:

0:00-0:19 intro

The intro uses the ostinato from the original's A part (0:00-0:14), played on the chippy synth, plus the chromatic ascending/descending parts that play after each two bars.

0:20-0:36 A1

The part that properly corresponds to the original's A part. Ostinato is doubled with the guitar on the right. The chorused guitar panned wide is based on the bubbly synth line in the original, although it's been rhythmically shifted a bit (after recording it, actually). I've simplified the bassline by having it stick to F#, since I couldn't figure out how it actually goes. There's a small original guitar lead melody.

0:37-0:53 B1

Next up is the B part from the original (0:15-0:28). The synth plays the main lead in the middle. The sound is drawn from my Roland SH-201, then it goes through some tracker effect mangling, and finally through an amp simulation. The bells play the bells from the original in the distance. Most of the rhythm guitars don't come directly from the source, and I'm quite fond of the little figure that comes up at the end of this part (and again in the next part).

0:53-1:09 C1

C part in the original (0:29-0:43). Hey, it's almost distortion free! This part was fun to figure out. The chord progression is carried by the wide-panned chorused guitars. There's about five synth tracks making up the sound, I think I was inspired by a live Yellow Magic Orchestra video that was posted on the OCR forums just when I was about to work on the part. The main thing was to highlight those awesome syncopated chordy "stabs" in the first half of this part. I tried to make sense of the busy-ish source here but also kept it loose enough in the interpretation department. Even the quick bell runs are in there, quietly to the right.

1:10-1:26 D1

D part in the original (0:44-0:58). I told you I kept to the original structure! The rhythmic line in the original is played by the guitar on the right (much lower in the mix than the original) and the lead is played by a bunch of layered synths, main body drawn from SH-201 again.

1:27-1:34 transition

The short transitional mayhem E part from the original (0:58-1:02). Sounds like I didn't bother to transcribe the synths from the original here, just keeping the drums+bass and adding rhythm guitars on top. Then we go back to the A part with the ostinato on the chippy synth and the chromatic lines.

1:35-2:25 A2

It's a long stretch of the A part from the original, reinterpreted. The drums start deviating from the original arrangement from here on. Lead guitar plays original stuff over the chromatic lines and the occasional chorused guitar line. At 1:52 it appears that the melody of the B part fits into the part quite well. 02:08 the ostinato returns on the rhythm guitar to the right, and there's actually some original writing on the bass!

2:25-2:41 B2

The B lead melody is varied up and played by two synth sounds, and there is again original guitar lead writing going on. Even the bell is still there, slightly varied, though the part is pretty full.

2:42-2:59 C2

Same deal as before (no copy-pasting on the synths though, quite proud of that chippy synth line, though it's mixed quite low), with added guitar solo. The drumming is different, with some start-stop -style fills and a double-time bit.

2:59-3:31 D2

Pretty much the D part before, with drum (and even bass) variations, played twice with a (slightly murky) additional guitar in the middle during the first half.

3:32-3:41 ending

The bridge from before played twice, with altered bassline on the second go, to wrap things up.

A big thanks to Rondo and Pleiade for borrowing me essential gear for recording. Thanks to Henna, on whose acoustic I came up with a part or two. Thanks to Pirjo and Pihla, who may have played some of the guitar noises in the beginning. Most of all thanks to Dj Mokram and DusK for excellent feedback and steering during the process, raising awareness of a brilliant soundtrack and running a tight project overall. That's all. Cheers!"

Now THAT... is some epic breakdown action! Diehard GH OST fans can follow along & really grok what Eino accomplished here, which is cool, plus he sends out classy props to all the right peeps AND gets his Frankenstein reference right (monster itself was never called "Frankenstein"), which I think I've probably screwed up myself in half a dozen writeups. Bottom line? This guy can make some serious music, but he's equally adept at describing everything he's done, which has been carefully considered & crafted. This type of walkthrough is really above & beyond the call of duty, but it serves as an excellent example of the type of detail and play-by-play that can be very helpful, to listeners as well as arrangers trying to deconstruct things & learn from the process. A very fun, driving, pumped piece of rock arranging that honors the original while augmenting it considerably, this mix was a great addition to Be Aggressive! & an excellent introduction to Eino's music, which we'll be hearing more of VERY soon!



Latest 5 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2015-12-21 15:02:00

Great rock remix. It’s intense, and action packed. All without relying on super-fast solos and riffs. The synth instruments and the rock instruments do a great job complimenting each other without overpowering one another.

on 2014-01-01 18:22:24
I remember back in the day when Stevo was telling me this track had unanimous NOs. Extremely happy to see this track hit the front page.

Well, the critique was spot on. But thankfully, a few mixing tweaks can go a long way! I had to raise the leads in the mix so they would actually be on top of the mix. I'm really glad the bar is as high as it is, as this track is much better for it. I'm proud to have been part of the excellent album, and very happy to see my track on the front page (with an embarrassingly long quote from the submission letter essay too)!


on 2013-12-31 10:22:07

The synth work on this is pretty sick, man. I can totally picture something like this on a modern military action scene (running and gunning type stuff). Great sound, neat arrangement and solid ReMix all around.

on 2013-12-30 21:56:05

I remember back in the day when Stevo was telling me this track had unanimous NOs. Extremely happy to see this track hit the front page.

on 2013-12-30 16:49:02

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

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Gunstar Heroes (Sega , 1993, GEN)
Music by Norio Hanzawa
"4 Stage"

Tags (6)

Progressive Rock,Rock
Electric Guitar,Synth
Time > Tempo: Fast

File Information

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