ReMix:Donkey Kong Country "Oceanic Aura" 4:11

By Neon X

Arranging the music of one song...

"Aquatic Ambiance"

Primary Game: Donkey Kong Country (Nintendo , 1994, SNES), music by David Wise, Eveline Novakovic, Robin Beanland

Posted 2022-09-13, evaluated by the judges panel

Neon X (Martin Höglund) debuted with a synthwave take on SMW's "Underground BGM" back in February, followed that up with a chill take on Chrono Trigger's ubiquitous "Corridor of Time" in March, and now returns to arrange another classic/iconic theme with this equally chill ReMix of "Aquatic Ambiance" that starts off mellow/ambient, drops a relaxed downtempo beat, and then eventually shifts to double-time for more of a synthwave vibe. The artist writes:

"I have been really scared of remixing/covering this classic and timeless song. It's so easy to ruin it that any changes could be devastating. I'm still afraid I have broke it, but I hope not!

First of all, the soundscape that the original has is so fragile, and, by having that in mind, I made sure to keep my sounds very close to that, but with much higher bitrate, of course, since it's SNES we're talking about. However, the sound quality in DKC is unbelievably high for an SNES game. I just took my standard synthesizer setup and started to modify and tweak them to make all instruments sound quite close to the original. Except the piano, I changed it for a pluck sound from my Obsession synth.

About my composition of this, as you can hear, I kept really close to the original to begin with, adding some small changes. For example, I added a "real" beat and all melodies are playing with my signature lead synth.

What was more interesting in composing this was how I could leave the original completely and take on another path. So, I elaborated with a splash sound to represent me diving from the original into my own composition, then immediately added a bubbling underwater effect to continue with an introduction to a Mega Man-ish melody with the pluck synth.

Dashing into a double-time beat and the Mega Man-ish melody, I hold the intensity steady and then release it into a psychedelic synthwave groove, a bit like the groove I use in the end of my "Bloody Tears" remix. If you listen more carefully, I use the original arpeggio in the background (the first you hear in this song) in this last section but change it over the chord's harmony.

I did something with the ending that came to my mind just now. When I listen to this remix, I feel I can make so many more variations of it. Some day, I might do an "Aquatic Ambience" suite or something.

Looking forward to hear what you think of this one!"

Judges were feeling everything about the original submission... EXCEPT for the ending. Of course, often frustratingly, since the ending is the last thing a song leaves you with, it can color the overall experience disproportionately. Thankfully, Martin submitted a revised version with an ending that does the overall arrangement justice... and here we are! His own comments provide a lot of insight; I love the dive/bubbles as a kind of metaphor for switching to a more interpretive (and upbeat) section, and the overall production is not only solid, but features a ton of details that go beyond. Steve Miller called and he wants the rising synth transition at 1'17" back - reminds me a lot of "Fly Like an Eagle," and works very well :) The actual bubble FX are cool, but so is the accompanying little synth pluck riff at 2'00" even, and some of the modulations to the chord progression once things go synthwave are fun, and lend some contrast & variety. As prophetik music puts it:

"there's a notable transition around 2:00 into more adaptive territory with a new synth and some great chord changes, and then a slick synthwave transition into a great IV-V-vi-I chord progression that still feels like the original while also being primo driving music."

Reflecting the judges' consensus on the initial version that Martin submitted, Chimpazilla writes:

"PLEASE finish this track because I love what's here. The production is on point and even though the master is super loud it never sounds overcompressed, so I have no production crits at all, great work. But DarkSim said it very well when he said that the extra arrangement work would elevate this mix from "passable" to "one of the best Aquatic Ambiance remixes of all time.""

Kris has picked up some serious EDM production chops over the years, so that's high praise on the production front, and happily the extra arrangement work WAS done. The end result is a much better experience that, factoring in the progression changes and the shift into doubletime, manages to provide a fresh & engaging take on a source that's had its fair share of amazing arrangements. Bravo to Neon X for the strong original submission AND the subsequent revisions that, like a good rug, really tie the room together. Excellent - enjoy!



Latest 5 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2023-01-01 07:11:15

Loved the subtle Industrial Fear/Terminator 2 main theme feel starting at 0:43 that's throughout the mix (that metallic effect), great work.

on 2022-10-14 13:39:43

Good lord this was amazing! I love the progression into double time in this one, sounded like a heroic takeoff. And the “real” beat as you called it added another notch to the overall quality of the mix. Add in some clean water and bubble sounds and this jumps up to one of my top 3 arrangements of this tune. Wonderful ReMix, Neon X!

on 2022-10-06 13:02:50

Another fine rendition of a classic.

on 2022-09-14 07:30:48

I feel I'll hear that song at the next GDQ!

on 2022-08-30 15:18:49
What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Donkey Kong Country (Nintendo , 1994, SNES)
Music by David Wise,Eveline Novakovic,Robin Beanland
"Aquatic Ambiance"

Tags (10)

Electronic,Sound FX,Synth
Time > 4/4 Time Signature

File Information

7,051,508 bytes


8-bit Jazz Heroes - Press Start
View All

Latest Albums

View All

Latest ReMixes