ReMix: Life Force "Surgical Strike" 4:23

By Nutritious

Arranging the music of one song...

"Thunderbolt (2st.BGM)"

Primary Game: Life Force (Konami, 1988, NES), music by Atsushi Fujio, Hidenori Maezawa, Miki Higashino, Satoe Terashima, Shinya Sakamoto

Posted 2020-11-03, evaluated by the judges panel

It's election day in America, and... okay I don't have a segue :) Let's see... without democracy, giant alien salamanders attack, and force us to defend ourselves using spaceships that can only move in two dimensions, set to completely rad chiptunes. That last part actually sounds pretty good, though... but seriously, don't take your corporate-sponsored representative democracy for granted, because things could still be much worse, and... lasers/aliens. On that note, the latest from Nutritious (Justin Medford) is a high-energy, shreddage-infused d'n'b take on the Stage 2 BGM from Life Force (NES):

"Well, this one took a while...

Started in 2017, put on self-hold for 3 years, then I finally fix it up (sorry for the delay, guys :(). The original NES track is awesome, but unfortunately too short. I can still remember going to a friend's house in elementary school to play & beat this game, Konami code-assisted, of course.

I originally planned a relatively straightforward orchestral DNB take on this, but the end product really fell short. Looking back, I'd gotten way too locked into recycling the same ideas and sounds across a lot of my music. After stepping away for 3 years (!), I finally came back to producing and am very happy I did. The end result got more into classic synth/cinematic territory blended with my original ideas and a lot more/better guitar sequencing. Hope this one does the trick and also that I'll keep the music train rolling."

I dug the extended intro on this one; more focus on sound design & depth from Justin, to such an extent that I'd like to hear some cinematic synthwave in the future, or something that explicitly *doesn't* pick up & morph into a faster-paced jam, as this does. That being said, once this train gets going, it certainly packs a wallop - tight, aggressive guitars, giant beats, hot synths, and a good sense of when to lean in & when to pull back make this a very fun ride. Jivemaster writes:

"Enjoyed the intro build-up. The mix does take a little while to get going, but once the pace picks up, we're in business. I think the leads are a bit loud in this, compared to the other elements, the drums get a little lost. Not a dealbreaker but worth mentioning. The breakdown and build-up at 2:41 was a nice addition. The lead guitar that plays us out at the outro at the end is a bit stiff. Arrangement seems fine. Production seems mostly fine apart from the mixing of the leads issue I mentioned. I think we're good here."

I actually love the outro guitar noodling for the sheer over-the-topness, and some of the late-breaking modulations to the progression are nice touches; there's a risk in arrangements with this much raw energy to overwhelm the listener, and varying certain elements helps temper that, to some extent. In terms of the drums getting lost - I can hear the kick & snare a mile away, no issues, but the accompanying cymbals are indeed fighting a losing battle, almost to the point of annihilation. Who needs cymbals ANYWAY, though, am I right?? Leave cymbals to the cymbal-minded, I always say... Just kidding, of course, but I do agree with Joel that it's not a dealbreaker. Emunator adds:

"This gets an emphatic hell yes from me! I've heard this at various stages of development and, although it doesn't feel fundamentally different from your original concept, it's amazing how much all the little tweaks and additions have made this track shine. It's easily one of Justin's strongest-produced tracks, and the fusion of rock, orchestral, and synths captures everything I love about his music in a single package."

It's good, yeah :) To me the most notable thing is how complete & engrossing the intro is, and how that points to different approaches/possibilities - I totally dig the ensuing, crazy, high-octane beats that follow, and those are something Justin always excels at, but I'd also like to see mixes that identify more with the atmosphere of the build than the subsequent mojo. Either way, it's a win - great to hear more Nutritious & more Konami/NES SHMUP magic!



Latest 2 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2020-11-08 10:32:16

Did you know that "Thunderbolt" is actually the Stage 5 theme? I'm not looking to mock or anything; I'm just curious. The actual Stage 2 music is known as "Starfield" - that's the stage that features Tetran as the stage boss. Stage 5 is the one that has you going up against the Pharaoh mask at the end of it. I'm a bit of a Konami shmup nut, so... just wanted to try and set the record straight here.

on 2020-11-03 09:40:09

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Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Life Force (Konami, 1988, NES)
Music by Atsushi Fujio, Hidenori Maezawa, Miki Higashino, Satoe Terashima, Shinya Sakamoto
"Thunderbolt (2st.BGM)"

Tags (8)

Drum and bass
Aggressive, Energetic
Electric Guitar, Strings, Synth
Effects > Distortion
Time > Tempo: Fast

File Information

7,941,425 bytes


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