ReMix:Final Fantasy II "Analog Freedom" 3:28


Arranging the music of 2 songs...

"Rebel Army Theme", "Town"

Primary Game: Final Fantasy II (Square , 1988, NES), music by Nobuo Uematsu

Posted 2015-06-18, evaluated by the judges panel

BONKERS really came out swinging for Rebellion; his 'Rebel Dream' was a highlight of our first flood, but this shorter synth-rock jam is just as good, and even channels ELO towards the end with some rapid-fire arpeggio flurries - always a good thing. Here are Nick's abridged (!) comments:

"It's been so long that I don't even remember when I decided to take on the beautiful town theme. It's just THAT blurred together. All I can remember from back then was thinking "What the hell am I going to do with this song?" I had an initial idea to approach it a la "Roaming... Please Wait" with the intro, but change the song into 3/4...

Further time passes, and I ponder, and I ponder. "What can I do that will do the town theme justice? That doesn't destroy the feeling of the original too much?" Straight rock wouldn't work, it'd be too contrasting. Metal is entirely out of the question. 3/4 original concept is outlandish. Eventually, I have an eye-opener. Analog warmth. This one phrase caused an explosion of ideas. I wanted to do this sounding analog, and warm with many retro elements from eras all across the last 50 years, including almost a full NES channel set in there. (Pulse 1 & 2, triangle - though triangle is processed a lot for other reasons.)

So I had my spark. I started creating new effects chains, researched synthesizers, effects (gated plate verb kick/toms, for example), tape saturation, noise, and sounds of all kinds to try and recreate within my limited digital domain. I created new instrument combinations. New instruments. One effect in particular of the 80's that I just absolutely adore and had to find a way to recreate it was what I call "80's Shimmer Guitar." And it's exactly as it sounds. The best example of this effect that I can think of is the 2nd OP to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. My creation isn't entirely faithful or the same (it's missing some parts to it), but it was good enough and it was the best I could do.

Song structure-wise, around that time I recalled I had done some analysis on the 90's synth rock ballad version of "Requiem of a Nameless Soul" on the Dracula Battle albums a few years prior. And I thought that that was a brilliant place to start structurally and almost exactly fit a lot of the ideas I had for "Town." And I thought that the intro would mesh well with my intentions. Instead of the song being silent for a measure before the melody kicks in, that measure is used as a pick-up measure for "Town's" melody. And so that's where I started. (Although the actual melodies for "Analog Freedom" would actually be the VERY last part of the music to be recorded. But I'm getting to that.)

This is the first step in reaching my middle ground between creativity and repetition. (Unlike "Rebel Dream," which is completely the opposite and my swan song to progressive rock style'd song structure.) From now on, I hope to make most of my songs this way. Though exceptions will be had depending on what the source calls for.

Time went along and I had more and more ideas, and I refined my instrumental palette more and more. And music started flowing out and out. For the first half of the song, I wrote 100% completely original accompanying lines and counter-melodies of music and did not use any of the original from either Tsuyoshi Sekito's version or Uematsu's Famicom original. But at the same time, I created intentional similarities in rhythm and used similar harmonies in order to retain the feeling of the source. Though that's not to say I completely ignored them. By the time the solo comes around, both Uematsu's original NES pulse wave counter-melody and Sekito's acoustic guitar lines are played at the same time (even though, IIRC, some of the chord tones are not 100% the same). Uematsu's on a NES pulse wave + honky-tonk heavy-chorused piano and organ. And Sekito's on pulse wave + 80's shimmer guitar + heavily-chorused and tremolo'd warm electric guitar.

...I think the song turned out really well for what limitations I had to work in. And, for once, I am truly proud of what I accomplished. Being able to accomplish 90% of what my vision was. Brandon and everyone on the team, as well as my friends and family, have been very supportive the whole time. And I'm incredibly thankful for that. It feels so good to finally feel like this weight is lifted off my figurative shoulders.

I sincerely hope from the bottom of my heart that many people can hopefully enjoy this song and perhaps feel the intention of my vision when listening."

Judges certainly did; Flexstyle writes:

"Wow, that was fantastic. I could nitpick but this song honestly really blew me away when I heard it. It's laden with source, so no worries there. I really love the guitar work in here--worthy of any '80s rock ballad "Best-Of" compilation. The chippy synths in the mix just add some fantastic character. Love the tempo changes and all that."

Chimpazilla adds:

"The lossy master has a warm feel to it, it doesn't bother me too much. Really great performances and sequencing here, arrangement is solid. Lots of fun tempo and time sig ideas. Fun listen!"

A few things to add:

  1. I love that Nick took the mix title and the analog concept as far as he could, really embedding & imbuing the whole piece with a vintage warmth.
  2. Pivoting, unpredictable arrangement, but doesn't jar - feels more exploratory & unfettered, echoing the second half of the mix title.
  3. Mellotron cameo!?!
  4. While the overall piece is quite strong, it finishes really strong, and the energy in the final minute or so is legit epic and makes me smile.

Nick's a "big concept" arranger, and I almost pity him for the extreme amounts of analysis & consideration he puts into his work. Know that it is appreciated! This is the type of exuberant, blinding celebration of music & life that I do kind of associate with certain ELO tracks, and I hope Nick takes that comparison as a compliment, because that's certainly how it's intended. Fantastic.



Latest 6 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2023-01-20 02:57:27

This is great, so much going on in a short time and very well executed. Great arrangement and excellent production.

I feel like there are a couple of references to the Beatles here:
0:00-0:16 is the intro for Because in the arpeggio
2:53-2:57 mellotron is the intro to Strawberry Fields Forever

Really cool to bring that influence into the track. Cheers!

on 2015-12-28 12:12:21

I was waiting for the rock portion to start, I just knew it was there waiting to come at you during the first minute and a half. It’s so great. Very 80s rock ballad. It almost sounds like this would make a great ending theme for Final Fantasy II.

on 2015-12-08 15:50:50

LOL It starts exactly like "Requiem for the Nameless Victims" from Perfect Selection Dracula Battle -- actually the whole track has that 80's metal ballad vibe, which I like a lot. BONKERS has a strong Naoto Shibata influence, haha. Excellent production and performance (great solos!) -- love it! :D

on 2015-07-16 14:37:55

Hey, this is an interesting sound. :P I kid, I kid. This is an impressive piece of music and I whole-heartily agree that this has all the makings of what it would have sounded like if 80's ballads had a an even better grasp of chip sounds and sound manipulation than they already did. Just wonderful. I really think this may be another one of my favorites from BONKERS. That ending as well, fine work man!

on 2015-06-19 23:51:55

Somewhere, there are going to people who hear this song and think, "Hey, that's an interesting sound", and just leave it at that. I hope the remixer knows that there are people who listened to this and were truly impressed at the quality and feel that was created for this mix!! Well done!!

on 2015-06-18 11:05:16

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

Sources Arranged (2 Songs)

Primary Game:
Final Fantasy II (Square , 1988, NES)
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
"Rebel Army Theme"

Tags (8)

Chiptune,Electric Guitar,Synth,Woodwinds
Time > 4/4 Time Signature
Time > Tempo: Variable

File Information

6,018,637 bytes


8-bit Jazz Heroes - Press Start
View All

Latest Albums

View All

Latest ReMixes