Pavos (Pieter van Os) sends us his uplifting, Back to the Future-inspired piano+ pop ballad take on "The Angarian Journey," off of Golden Sun: A World Reignited:
"It's been a while (a year, I believe) since I submitted anything, since 2019 has been quite a challenging year for me. It started out pretty good, but since May I've been dealing with serious medical issues (including a high sensitivity to light which prevents me from working on music), health issues of my dad, being unjustly fired from a job which I got back with a lawyer (but that was pretty stressful), medication that was out of stock, and quite some more. Let's just say it's been eventful, but somehow it seems that happens to a lot of musicians. It's not all back to normal yet, but at least things are a lot better and I've gotten somewhat of a grip on most of the issues.
This track, as part of the Golden Sun album, was made in that... tumultuous time. I'd all but given up on finishing this on time for the album and I want give a huge thanks to the project director TSori for being so understanding. The "don't worry about it, health comes first; if you finish it that's great, but if you don't that's understandable"-mentality really helped me in trying to work on it whenever possible, but not feeling guilty when I couldn't. The same goes for my BadAss co-director David L. Puga, but that's a different song and a different album. ;) It kept working on it fun for me. Contrary to TSori's and my own expectations, I was able to finish it on time for the album. MindWanderer had some comments about production (a lack of mid-range), but that was something I wasn't able to change during that time (a huge thanks to the mastering engineer for making some final adjustments in the end).
That was months ago and I've finally found the time and state of being (after finishing directing and making a track for the new BadAss album) to put in that extra time in the production department and can finally call it done and (in my opinion) up to OCR standards. Sorry for the long intro, but I believe making music always comes from emotion and state of mind, so this will give you an extra background to this piece and why it's extra important to me.
TSori asked me to contribute to the Golden Sun album, and after some thought (my spare time is scarce these days and my personal life has been "dynamic," to say the least), I was happy to do just that! Golden Sun has always been one of my favorite handheld games and RPGs in general, and that was in no small part due to the amazing soundtrack! I picked the first overworld theme as a source, because to me that's when the adventure truly began. A world of possibilities, wonders and adventure had just opened up to you, as a player. TSori said he liked the atmosphere in my tracks with, as an example, my Magus theme, which was influenced by Dexter's "Blood Theme." That made me want to make a ReMix based on something else again, because it's so much fun to do. And I've never had more sense of wonder and adventure than with the Back to the Future theme!
With the limitations of OCR concerning non-VGM influences, I've taken what I think are the four magical notes from BttF and combined those with the first notes from the material from the Golden Sun source. I've changed some chords here and there to mimic the chord progression from the BttF theme throughout the track, and I wanted to keep the feeling magical and playful, so I've not completely filled the soundscape. I made some use of choirs and bells, but I never wanted this to feel too bombastic. Of course, the entry of the Golden Sun had to pack some punch, so I pumped up the energy in those few seconds. I couldn't resist at around the 2:13 mark and added some direct melody from the BttF theme, since they blended so well that I just had to do it. I hope that 6 seconds of non-VGM source is acceptable. ;)
The most challenging part was the ending, because BttF has such an amazing ending with their chord progression, but it didn't really fit the source material from "The Angarian Journey." So I had to make quite some changes to both sources, but in the end, it really came together very well! After listening to this, I have both the original BttF theme in my head, as well as the original Golden Sun overworld theme, so It feels like I was successful in my goal!
Now for the source breakdown:
- 0:00-0:30: I've taken the first 4 notes of the original (one time, the first 8 notes) from the original and combined it with a Back to the Future-esque bell pattern
- 0:30-0:37: Sustaining the note, but I guess that doesn't really count as source
- 0:37-0:44: The same as the first part (the bell plays the Golden Sun 8 notes here as well)
- 0:45-1:18: Original writing
- 1:19-2:13: Basically the source material from the start
- 2:14-2:21: Back to the Future :)
- 2:21-2:29: Mostly silence
- 2:30-2:38: The start of the source material with different chords
- 2:38-2:50: The Back to the Future-esque bells from the start of the mix
- 2:50-3:05: The first part of the source again, only now with some variations in the main melody
- 3:05-3:14: Also altered source, but probably altered beyond recognition (from the 0:06 mark in the YT link)
- 3:15-3:22: Slightly altered (and slowed down), but it's the part from 0:30 in the YT link from the source
- 3:23-3:37: A Back to the Future-style ending, using the first 8 notes from the source material (this was a LOT of work to figure out)
- 3:38-3:43: The first 12 notes of the source material
- 3:44-3:47: Back to the Future ending notes
Even if you're not counting the 3:23-3:37 part as source, I get a total of 126 seconds out of 227 (not counting the silence as the end of the track) of source material, which with 55% source usage should be in the clear. Counting the 3:23-3:37 part as source gives a 62% source usage.
Sorry for the long read, but hopefully you guys can enjoy this Back to the Future-style version of the Overworld theme from Golden Sun!"
A lot to unpack there, as they say :) Bummer that 2019 was rough for Pieter since (as we now know) 2020 was pretty rough for everyone; as someone with a (mild) light sensitivity, I can relate to some extent. Glad he still found time to contribute to A World Reignited and Paragons & Renegades, though! Big forte chords are large & in charge, channeling 80s-era piano sensibilities & evoking the classic BttF OST, but also (for me at least) "Chariots of Fire." I'm a fan of the "solo piano + accompaniment" approach, where it's *almost* a solo piano mix, but there's accompanying glue that holds things together and fills it out just a bit more. In this case, bells, choir bits, & some strings/pads help out, while the acoustic piano takes center stage. Album director TSori writes:
"Pavos was one of the first people I reached out to when recruiting for the album and he certainly had the most unforgettable response of anyone.
He interviewed me. Seriously. Pavos knows his stuff and here I was, a first time director trying to start an album for a game that was already a bit infamous for failed album attempts. It was actually great because it forced me to really explain my project management plans to someone else for the first time and it clued me into pieces of the puzzle I hadn't thought all the way through yet. I guess I passed, though, because he joined up and gave us this fantastic remix.
'Back to the Fields' is the perfect crossover piece. It has a sense of intimacy opening to a wider world. It feels like a triumph at the same that it feels like a precursor to something grand. I often break up this album in my head into location remixes and story telling remixes. I've mentioned how I had hoped the individual remixes would take on unique sounds and kind of paint the "cultures" of Weyard. Equally important to those though are remixes that create a sense of motion between different parts of the journey. 'Back to the Fields' does that superbly. Brimming with character and blending a sense of adventure with a feeling of 'home', it makes an excellent addition to A World Reignited."
Good on Pieter for asking TSori the tough questions :) Getting involved with an album can be a real commitment, and I think good directors will take the time to explain themselves, their vision, & their methodology to artists, when asked. Judges were unanimous but did find the piano sound itself a bit thin on the EQ side. For gigantic, loud chords like this, if it has too much bottom/mid-bottom, it's gonna cause even more issues/clutter, so I get what the artist was doing. Thankfully, for quieter & delicate sections, I think there's more clarity to the tone. I do think some humanization and pulling back on the timing of the epic lead-ins would have been preferable, as well, but nothing major; as Emunator writes:
"I will say that the arrangement felt properly dynamic and expressive and I had no qualms from that angle! 3:25 was a jarring transition but the section that followed was properly dramatic. I wished that the ending had a little more time to tail off, the fade felt quite abrupt.
This definitely had a "keyboard sampler" quality to the instrumentation, but I have to commend the work you did with what you had. The piano tone, while it wasn't the most realistic, was very responsive to the dynamics of your performance and felt very dramatic. The rest of the instrumentation took on a supporting role and as such, the lack of realism didn't hurt things as much.
I feel like if Liontamer were to vote on this track, he might say something about "not making perfect the enemy of the good" and I would wholeheartedly agree with him!:P This arrangement is ambitious and grandiose, and it's clear that you put a lot of thought and effort into executing it as best as possible within the limits of your sample libraries."
That. Plus, I dig the concept, and I like that Pavos still worked in the main Back to the Future theme as a cameo. Inspired & inspiring work from Pavos and another dynamic, emotive arrangement from A World Reignited!
Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Ballad, Pop
- Energetic, Epic
- Bells, Choir, Piano, Strings, Synth
- 5,626,176 bytes
- Size: 5,626,176 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: 8b817a8d61e3d3184db9bd4b6967115a
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