ReMix:Xenogears "Back to the Sea, Black to the Fire" 3:52

By H36T

Arranging the music of one song...

"Bonds of Sea and Flame"

Primary Game: Xenogears (Square , 1998, PS1), music by Yasunori Mitsuda

Posted 2024-04-04, evaluated by the judges panel

H36T continues warming our hearts with his second Yasunori Mitsuda ReMix, a lush refurbishing of a legendary theme from Xenogears! In channeling his energy towards this arrangement, H36T's also yearning for Xenogears to finally expand into a franchise (sorry, Xenosaga, you know spiritual sequels aren't quite the same):

"I wish we could get a proper direct sequel or maybe even a prequel to Xenogears. What a wonderful game it was. "Bonds of Sea and Fire"... a legendary song from Xenogears. This song, if you know anything about Xenogears, sort of represents the past itself. The approach I used is mostly straightforward and adding pieces here and there that represent me as a musician and my influences. In that way, there is my past wrapped up in this song as well. The second half adds some newer elements and I see this as more of the "fire" to the first half's "sea". I had such a good time making this my own and adding some flavor in the second verse, as well as a little ending. That second verse was so fun to make once I got working on how to spice it up."

H36T's melodically conservative approach, while substantive, was narrowly turned down on his first attempt for not being transformative enough. However, retooling the final third's vocal segment to arrange the original song further and in a different direction was just the right touch needed to nudge this to a vote of unanimous support. Even in the midst of the voting on this one, judge prophetik music initially voted against it, but ended up coming around thanks in part to judge Emunator's power of persuasion:

"H36T weaves a new set of melodies and improvisations into the melodies of the original in a complementary fashion. I think this, coupled with the dissonance introduced in the outro and at the 2 minute mark and all of the subtle flair introduced throughout the rest of the track, is enough to push this squarely into the realm of "interpretive enough for OCR." Especially since the original sections are now more closely tied to the source tune, I think it builds an even stronger case for passing. It's an unconventional approach and maybe not the most bold or ambitious, but I wouldn't identify this as simply a MIDI rip with nothing added to the equation just because the additions are largely original writing."

As I've said many times over, we've actually got plenty of openness, room, and runway for melodically conservative arrangements, as long as they're personalized *enough* so that they distinctly stand apart from the original. Getting expansive to start then pivoting to new instrumentation with original writing accents from 1:36-3:11 was a tasteful and creative way for H36T to achieve that needed interpretation, followed by the "Mitsuda Ladies" vocal samples of the final closing section to preserve the Mitsuda vibes and finish strong. Another instance where, even if H36T may get discouraged, he sure doesn't *stay* discouraged, allowing him once more to bring the fire and become a FIVE-TIME, FIVE-TIME, FIVE-TIME, FIVE-TIME, FIVE-TIME OC ReMixer, now can you dig that, suckaaaaa! :-)



Latest 4 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
Eino Keskitalo
on 2024-04-06 10:04:31

Very chill, lovely to be "back in XG" with this tune.. tasteful personalization in the arrangement, very nice build-up / swell ... particular plus points for taking a looping VGM tune and making a _very_ nice conclusion to the arrangement!

on 2024-04-05 14:10:41

This was a nice remix to listen to. Definitely has a a nice steady pace and a pleasant atmosphere. No complaints here! 2 thumbs up! ?

on 2024-04-04 23:57:01

Alright, so this might be a first - due to a misunderstanding, both Larry AND myself did full writeups for this submission without knowing it! So, here's my full commentary, now in review form! :D

H36T continues his hot streak of modern cinematic reimaginings of classic JRPG themes, this time with a dramatic take on “Bonds of Sea and Fire” from Xenogears that leans into the idea of contrast on multiple levels. Although the final product that you’re hearing now is pristine and polished, the process wasn’t as straightforward as the end result might suggest - it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get here. I’ll let the artist explain:

“Given everything I've learned since I've made this song, it sort of pains me that I can't revisit it easily. The original file is lost to the ether and while I could try and recreate some of it and do some new things here and there...some things are best left in the past and its time to move forward. Thus we come to this song, which if you know anything about Xenogears, sort of represents the past itself. The approach I used is mostly straightforward and adding pieces here and there that represent me as a musician and my influences. In that way, there is my past wrapped up in this song as well. The second half adds some newer elements and I see this as more of the "fire" to the first half's "sea." The a bit unfortunate and I wish I could go back and fix some things and change others. But as with the past, there is no fixing this guy and he is who he is. So as god once said, "come as you are." and as such, I bring "Back to the Sea, Back to the Fire" for judgement! Maybe this old dog of a song will teach me some new tricks through evaluation.”

Astute listeners may have picked up on the fact that, despite the submission letter suggesting that the project file was lost to the sands of time, what you’re hearing now is actually a resubmission. The first iteration was initially rejected by the judges panel, albeit in a split decision, with the majority of judges taking issue with the overall conservative nature of the arrangement, especially in the first half, as well as the “choir practice” at the end of the arrangement feeling detached from the rest of the piece. These are all critiques that H36T himself preemptively called out in his own submission letter, but after the first rejection, he dug deep within himself and his hard drive and was able to recover the long-lost file to take another stab at it. Nearly a year later, we got a revised version addressing the criticism from the first submission:

“Another year, another resub! I've been pretty good so far at taking a second look at things and trying to correct errors and be more creative. Let's see if I can accomplish the same here. Funny story, in my original submission, I misspelled my own track. However, I actually liked the typo better! Something about blackening over the fire sounds cool. Anyway, though I thought I lost this track, it was sitting out in the open named something completely different. Unfortunately, that meant another track was lost LOL. Seeing as I don't know what track that was....I'm not too sad about it. As far as the update is concerned, I reworked the ending to be more related to the song at hand and added a bit more flavor in the middle. There are some technical mishaps here and there I'm sure but I'm not sweating them. Here is hoping you like this updated version! Until next time.”

A little goes a long way here - the extra personalized touches really add a lot to the first half of the arrangement, such as the lush vocal padding, tasteful orchestral percussion fills, or the hint of tension between the flute and choir at 1:37 that alludes to the more overt dissonance that appears at 2:15 and 3:11. All of these minor additions keep the first half fresh; even though H36T plays it close to Mitsuda’s original source material, you can still feel the artist’s personal touch coming through. Around the halfway mark, we dive into a more personalized, dramatic approach featuring more original flute riffing and a very cinematic-sounding supporting string section. We finally wrap up with a grand cinematic swell of strings, choir, and flute that teeters on the edge of falling apart but ultimately finds a satisfying resolution in the end (the metaphor really writes itself here.)

The contrast between original and source material, tonal and dissonant elements, relaxing and dramatic moods – between sea and fire, if you will – all adds up to a result that respects the intention of the original Bonds of Sea and Fire, while also taking it to a level that simply wouldn’t have been possible on the original PS1 hardware.

On a personal level, I have to commend H36T for his persistence and willingness to approach feedback with humility and grace. Putting yourself in a position to receive intense criticism on a piece that you’ve poured your heart and soul into that ultimately results in a binary “yes or no” vote can be intensely vulnerable. However, he’s consistently proved willing to take that feedback in good faith and channel it toward becoming a better musician, while also not sweating the small stuff in the end. To me, this ReMix is a case study in what makes a successful resubmission - humility, persistence, self-awareness, and a little bit of luck all played a factor here and I hope other budding artists take note!

on 2024-04-04 05:25:12
What did you think? Post your opinion of this ReMix.

Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
Xenogears (Square , 1998, PS1)
Music by Yasunori Mitsuda
"Bonds of Sea and Flame"

Tags (10)

New Age
Origin > Resubmission
Time > 6/8 Time Signature

File Information

6,406,194 bytes


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