Posted 2020-04-29, evaluated by Rexy

Mazedude (Christopher Getman) takes the "Dragonborn" theme to the lo-fi, tracker/chiptune realm, with Dhsu adding real-world piano, in this opening track off of American Pixels - but first, some updates from the world of the dude of maze:

"First, I recently released another original game soundtrack, this time for an odd hybrid piece that is both retro, and a Western, and an RPG. The game's release itself has been delayed due to COVID-19, but, they allowed me to publish the soundtrack. Our friend zykO plays guitar on it as well.

Secondly, I just unveiled the website for my next major album project in development, something else I plan to take to Kickstarter at the end of the year. And it's not VGM! Check it out!"

Words and Verses does sound like a neat concept, and certainly there's plenty of variety & inspiration to be found in the texts - should be interesting even if you're not a believer. About this specific mix, Chris writes:

"Well, it seems to me like another good time to submit an American Pixels track. It's been enough time, licenses are squared away, and... did I mention that the album won an award?

This is the opening track on the Kickstarter-funded, award-winning American Pixels album... and yet... despite the fact that it was a famous theme, despite the fact that the track succeeded in setting the tone of electronic fusion for the CD... in retrospect, I could have polished it a bit more. The intro takes way too long to build up. I see that now. Still, I love the remix, and I have to give a shout-out to Dhsu, who literally performed the piano solo SEVERAL times. After he initially recorded his part with an electronic keyboard, I tried forever to get it to mix right... and it wouldn't. The only solution - in my eyes - was to record the solo with a real piano. Dhsu was a fantastic sport and managed to get the solo recorded locally, with a real grand piano, and it shows in the final mix."

I love how giant some of these lower-fi textures can end up sounding, and chiptune paired with Dhsu on the ivories is a recipe for success. The melody/progression are relatively intact, but the instrumentation has been (obviously) altered, there's plenty of embellishment (especially with the solo), and the adventurous spirit of Jeremy Soule's original work is retained. Speaking of Soule, this mix was created & submitted before some disturbing allegations surfaced, so I reached back out to Chris to confirm that we proceed; he wrote:

"So, Dhsu and I have had some back and forth, and after much contemplation we've decided to approve submission of Dragonborn Concerto. After all, we did our work on that long before the story came out about Mr. Soule, and the remix can still serve to honor the music, and the game. True, American Pixels was geared as a project designed to honor the composers themselves, but even if the composer has a fall from grace, the arrangement created can still stand as a quality piece of music. Much like we can still look at some movies that feature an actor or actress who has done some shady things later in life, one can say "hey, that was still a good movie!"

I think everyone lands in their own space on this topic, and it's interesting to see the variety of takes... my own feelings are more or less similar to what Chris has written, but perhaps go a bit further:

  • Admiring/enjoying someone's work should never involve a blanket endorsement of their character; even if nothing ever came to light, it's entirely possible that your favorite book, movie, song, game, etc. was created by someone who's done objectionable/illegal things and would otherwise be "canceled" if the truth came to light...
  • Art isn't supposed to reflect a sanitized, flawless morality, anyways... "imagine others complexly" comes to mind, and I think so-called cancel culture often errs in drawing lines between creator & creation that are both reductionist and inflexible. It might not be possible - or desirable - to "separate the artist from the art," but the flip side is that combining one's consideration of the two should be done with great analysis & care; these tend to be scarce under a condemnatory umbrella...
  • I think that deeply flawed, bigoted, biased, even malicious people can still make great art, and I also think that admirable, upstanding, & philanthropic people can still make... not great art.
  • The only time this gets a little dicey is with the notion of commercial support; actively aiding/promoting someone whose views or actions you detest is no fun.... to me, this is where context kicks in, you look at all the specifics, & you make a personal call based on the level of support, the work in question, etc.

Of course, that's just my more-than-two-cents, and I'm perhaps concerned with Hypocrisy Reduction™ more than the average Jane/Joe. Anyhow, back to the mix! Rexy evaluated:

"Oh boy, I absolutely love the direction with this one! Sure, the structure is one run-through of the theme, but the amount of subtractive arranging is glorious - both with the genre adaptation and the articulations behind all parts. Mazedude's chiptune accompaniment soared like a mini-orchestra on their own, and Dhsu's studio-recorded piano rode those sonic waves with a gliding and expressive performance - catching both the details of the theme, and going into full improv territory at 3:18. It's a testament to both Chris's reputation for musically exploring the unknown, as well as David's skill as a pianist. I see it as a fantastic highlight to American Pixels and worth showcasing right here on OCR!"

What she said; an epic heroic melody takes on new life via the synergy of tracker/chip textures & bona fide piano. Congrats to Chris & David for the stirring homage, and be sure to check out the MazeQuest 3 OST!

― djpretzel


Latest 3 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2020-05-12 13:18:57

THIS was fantastic.
I love the idea of Low-Fi-ing the Dragonborn theme... and the chiptune bits almost merit a separate remix on their own just for that. GREAT compositional blend too between the live piano and the electronica. NICE WORK.

on 2020-05-09 01:34:33

Mazedude never fails to amaze me! Dhsu's piano actually fits in with the glitchy chip style, but sounds also mostly preserved from the original performance rather than being glitched to line up with the chip. :) 100% downloading this one. I disagree that it wasn't polished enough---it's possible to be too critical of yourself, and I think this was extremely polished. :-D

I also appreciate your more-than-two-cents. Your prose is still fun to read to this day.

on 2020-04-28 14:29:20

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

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks , 2011, WIN)
Music by Jeremy Soule

Tags (11)

Effects > Distortion
Effects > Glitching
Effects > Lo-Fi
Origin > Collaboration
Production > Live Instruments

File Information

7,860,258 bytes


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