Posted 2023-04-13, evaluated by the judges panel

Mario Month continues with some love for another prominent character in the series that also features prominently in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Donkey Kong! Before we spotlight our sophomore featured arrangement from Mental, I'd be remiss in not mentioning that it's seemingly mental that the sole Nintendo composer to receive a named credit for their work being sampled or arranged in the new movie was Koji Kondo. Grant Kirkhope's love-to-hate/hate-to-love meme-riffic classic "DK Rap" was used straight from Donkey Kong 64 to introduce DK in the film, yet Kirkhope wasn't credited by name. There was also music used from Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, so the glossing over of other important music contributors wasn't just limited to Kirkhope. I also noticed a motif by David Wise from Donkey Kong Country that was used to introduce the Jungle Kingdom and that usage itself had no recognition in the credits, seemingly because it was arranged rather than directly sampled.

Though the lack of credits puts a damper on this historic occasion from a VGM appreciation standpoint, we can't bust out the pitchforks quite yet. We'd love to find out from some legal eagles on the entertainment side: why is music usage seemingly handled in inconsistant ways when it comes to movie credits? As VGM fans, we'd love Kirkhope and Wise (maybe Hip Tanaka too, due to the Kid Icarus game footage?) to get some formal credit. But we'd need to know what discourages named recognition in the first place. Is it as simple and innocuous as inertia? Does named credit automatically indicate some sort of payout? I have to wonder: would it be completely impossible for any other Nintendo composers who had their work sampled or arranged to get distinct credits in the streaming and physical releases? Lots to ponder over and consider in the quest to give credit where credit is due.

But circling back to another important quest, Mental has painted a colorful musical canvas with their extended trance take on a Diddy's Kong Quest favorite, "Stickerbush (don't call me Stickerbrush) Symphony"! Ly explains how he started in one frame of mind, and arrived at this particular palette:

"I'd like to submit one of my latest arrangements, my remix on the nostalgic soundtrack of DKC2 from David Wise.

My motivation: "Stickerbush Symphony" is one of the pieces I always wanted to remake. This arrangement becoming trance was never my intention, as it started out as synthwave. After looking for some other arrangements as reference, I noticed there was already a good amount of (synthwave) remixes, so I opted for uplifting trance. Trance is also something I never wrote before, so it was a fun challenge for me as well!

About the remix: I followed the traditional layout of starting with the kick drum and ending with the kick drum. So if it may come as a slow buildup, this was an intended design feature (which I'm not sure if it fits the rest of the OC ReMix portfolio). I tried to make the beginning and the ending more interesting though with textures and effects."

The original bookends do indeed retain interest through the beefy kick drum, pads, and swirling effects that transition effectively into and out of the source tune, so props whenever an arranger can effectively connect their own original compositional ideas with creatively arranged VGM to offer a fresh presentation. When Mental mentioned "I'm not sure if it fits the rest of the OC ReMix portfolio", I'd encourage them and anyone else on the fence about submitting their material to never overthink the process; OCR's got such a wide range of genres and instrumentation styles; definitely go ahead and automatically consider us open to it. :-D Judge prophetik music summarized the arrangement approach with some insightful pieces of play-by-play on what clicked so effectively within Ly's structure:

"nice initial hit. i appreciate the patience in the build - you've got a 7+ minute palette, using all of it is definitely the right choice. the initial hit at 0:55 where the bass comes in feels great, and the fat, short snare sounds great alongside it.

we start to get more obvious theme correlations around 1:30, and there's a great drop and extended exploration before it really starts to build hard into the complete picture. again, the patience is just very good. i didn't expect the liquidy chorus for a quarter of the track, but it was a fun shift and helped keep the half-time feel going alongside the synthy strings and distant keys.

when the wide arpy lead comes in after the 4 minute mark, you really get the feel that it's time to buckle in because now you're going to be in a ride to the finish. i loved the anticipation this built. 4:45 is a great payoff, and getting the extended outro from 6:07 onward was even better since i figured we were going to be in a downswing after the payoff finally had hit.

the track is mastered effectively and sounds great. it features source throughout and handles it in a new but recognizable fashion. excellent work - this is a track i'll definitely be coming back to."

Any lengthy piece runs the risk of overstaying its welcome, but Mental's enveloping soundscape refuses to get painted into that dark corner. (Speaking of watercolors, by the way, consider grabbing French illustrator Marcel Mosqi's art book, The Art of Marcel Mosqi: Watercolors!) The major energy shifts come from the presence of beats to drive things forward vs. dropping them out and focusing more on the warm textures and ear candy. Fellow judge Emunator loved the instrumentation building blocks paired with the compositional build, and was also impressed by the genre contrast of this piece with the vastly different style of Mental's previous Golden Sun ReMix, which -- while beautiful -- was more about tension than relaxation:

"Very subtle use of the source material, but it checks out - through the iconic Stickerbush arpeggio, to the chords that translate beautifully to strings and choir, to the delicate piano melody, it's all there. On the production front, this is very competently put together, despite being a complete 180 from Ly's previous submission in terms of style. It's not groundbreaking, but in true trance fashion, it gets better and better as the track goes on. When everything reaches maximum velocity, it sounds fantastic.

Easy vote for me once I made sure the source checks out. Can't wait to see what you surprise us with next!"

Nice range indeed, and nice work by Ly! The results don't lie either, so we're excited to see what else Mental has in mind when it comes to VGM arrangement ideas; you clearly never know what could come through next! For OCR next, we're going to serve up another colorful track for this special Mario Month; keep your eyes & ears open for some first-time game representation coupled with a new artist rolling into the community. Will Mario make her debut worth your while?? ;-)



Latest 5 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2024-03-29 11:24:23

A smooth and fluid remix that does the original justice and brings its' own flavour to the mix. Well done!

on 2023-04-29 21:06:18

Done right, Trance can be an incredible musical journey that builds and ends in the best, most natural ways, and by my ears, this is certainly done right. Over seven minutes and it stayed interesting the entire time. Gotta echo the love for the choir and piano, that was a beautiful section. Definitely a no-brainer for me to add to my playlist.

Geoffrey Taucer
on 2023-04-14 01:54:52
11 hours ago, djpretzel said:

I particularly liked the layered/distant choir, here; it blends nicely with the pads and creates an ambient oasis, but you can still make out individual articulations and voices and details, and it's quite striking; a lesser choir sample would have worked, given the usage is masked/blended, but I sure am glad we got this one instead - elevates the mix.

I came in to say almost the exact same thing. Big picture, that choir isn't a major or even necessary part of the mix, but taking the time to add those articulations is a really cool touch, some real above-and-beyond stuff. And it blends so well with the piano.

I'm usually not that into this style, but this is some really excellent work. Definitely will be coming back to this mix regularly.

on 2023-04-13 14:42:51

I particularly liked the layered/distant choir, here; it blends nicely with the pads and creates an ambient oasis, but you can still make out individual articulations and voices and details, and it's quite striking; a lesser choir sample would have worked, given the usage is masked/blended, but I sure am glad we got this one instead - elevates the mix.

on 2023-04-12 13:36:24
What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Nintendo , 1995, SNES)
Music by David Wise
"Stickerbush Symphony (Bramble Blast)"

Tags (9)

Time > 4/4 Time Signature
Time > Duration: Long

File Information

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