Posted 2024-07-06, evaluated by the judges panel

I've been to Tower Records in Tokyo twice -- in 2010 I picked up the NieR soundtrack, and in 2017 I grabbed NieR: Automata's OST, soundtracks I loved enough to pony up for despite never having played the games. Just a few months ago, my wife and I (as well as Pixels & Paradiddles) attended the NieR: Orchestra Concert's stop in Atlanta [12024: the end of data] -- an amazing show with Emi Evans and J'Nique Nicole performing, plus Yoko Taro himself appearing at the end (gigundo head & all). Sufficed to say, I'm a huge fan of these scores even without the in-game nostalgia, so it only makes sense that this next ReMix is by another fan who digs the music all without having played the game. Perfect for some Christmas in July postage, The Vodoú Queen, assisted by ZackParrish & Emunator, created her own counterpart to NieR's "Snow in Summer"! VQ gives us the DL:

"Originally done for The Coop & Dyne's *17th* An OverClocked Christmas unofficial album, this is my chill take on NieR's "Snow in Summer", with quite a few very appreciated, last-minute collab additions courtesy of Zack. Although this will be my third year contributing to the album (the previous years done with tracks from Snowboard Kids, Secret of Mana, and Mega Man X3, respectively), I have been wanting to remix this song since the first time I participated back in 2021. It had taken years to finally conceptualize it in full (and giving up on a couple of not-so-great mash-up ideas for it), but I am happy it has finally come to fruition in 2023, where now I can feel confident in creating and mixing its transformative content and executing the plan to do it with.

And, honestly, I am glad I finally put my mind to the fire and kindled the courage to open up the source MIDI and take a look, otherwise I would have never known just how thoroughly complex and harmonically driven the source was.

With source usage, it is throughout the whole song, start to finish, with no repeats. I said to myself, "Why break and recreate something that is already beautiful?" Instead, I elected to *add* to it, rather than *subtract*, starting by changing the instrumentation entirely to fit a whole different genre bend. This arrangement is akin to the relaxing vibes in my remixes for "A Wish" (Secret of Mana) and "Big Snowman" (Snowboard Kids), yet it is not as somber as "The Frozen City" (MMX3). I am not a huge Christmas-y person, however, I love many things that are "Christmas-spirited/adjacent", as well as a few fairly traditional ones that make an exception (e.g. "Carol of the Bells"). I tried to encapsulate those aspects of Christmas songs I do really enjoy in this mix, such as: lots of strings, pretty bells & chimes, choirs, plenty of percussive elements, pipe organs, ritzy piano, jazzy bass, etc. -- but, employ them with a bit of a twist; a nice undertone of lo-fi/hip hop, indicative of the snappy percussion and plucky bass, as well as the low flute/whistle-y, whiny/Minimoog saw synth that has an East-West Coast/90s flair (i.e. that "oooo-weee-ooo" you hear in a lot of old skool rap tracks, such as "Big Poppa" by Notorious B.I.G.).

There... wasn't really much to my creative approach this time around, as my focus was mainly considering what I could do to showcase a different spin and feeling from its original incarnation without "breaking the mold". An... iteration that had equal parts the feelings of hope and happiness, and solemnity and loneliness that could be invoked during the (generally) joyous holiday season, against the original's more depressive emotion, that filters up and crescendo into the feeling of almost... oppression -- religious fervor turned into militaristic battle music midway through the song. I never got to play NieR (although I own the original and Automata), so this is me taking the raw emotion I felt from the source alone, without context or ties to the game, and changing it into something very... "me"... I suppose. I just know the first time I listened to the source, the choir pulled me in and the drumbeat lulled me to stay till the end, and I wanted to simply mimic that ebb and flow in a "me" manner. This one is probably one of my more "conservative" remixes, but I'm a firm believer in not all songs being created equal nor should get the same treatment, and I did not feel this one needed to be bombastic or as over-the-top with the sheer insanity some of my other pieces of work came to be. It's subtle, it's Xmas-inspired, and my hope is that this one can make it in for the holidays. I know I had only submitted one other Christmas-related track, and, sadly, MMX3/"Blizzard Buffalo" was rejected and did not make the cut. I will return to it shortly, however, I hope people enjoy this one, and this one has a chance. :D"

Two revisions and one resubmission later, this one nearly chopped the panel in half primarily due to some... let's say splashiness (a non-technical term) with some of the writing used to add color. Judge Rexy's someone who's had her own crises of musical confidence with the judges panel, swam through those waters, and eventually ended up skillful enough to join the bad guys! She's probably the best-equipped person to encourage VQ, so it's a good thing that she cast the deciding vote this piece's favor:

"The biggest positive is that the sound design is impeccable. You have [great] bells, percussion, and acoustic-sounding instrumentation to develop a haunting atmosphere. [...] As for the arrangement, it made perfect sense to turn it into a mellow jam and twist it around with a more electronic feel, so I do not need to worry about source quota. [...] I understand you wanted to go for a more additive arrangement, but it's best to think about what chord you would like to hit at any time and ride your elements around it. At the very least, you did mark your stamp on the source, which is indeed what we're looking for - and believe it or not, I've seen other dissonant works get posted on the site based on the strength of arrangement, so this should be no different. [...]

But Angelique, the best advice I can give you is to read all your feedback, stop doubting yourself, and use those words to build your skills up. You've got a lot of support, so use it well. :-)"

I choose to view her collaborators and our pesky judges & sages as Vodoú Queen's left and right flanks of support. :-D As long as VQ keeps her nose to the grindstone and her mind open to further growth opportunities, her potential's unlimited. That said, there's so much to like about the vibe here, and the instrumentation keeps things quirky yet smoove according to judge Gario:

"This is a pretty mellow arrangement, compared to what I'm used to [with] what I've heard from Vodou Queen. Maybe we should encourage more of this, 'cause it's quite a nice listen. Easy to follow the source, and the overall style is quite different and cool."

When it comes to "different and cool", Gario also knows what he's talking about! The track's music box outro also loops seamlessly back into intro, a perfect stylistic fit too given the music boxes Squenix has put out supporting the NieR series. As far as encouraging Vodoú Queen to do more in this style, I'm never sure how to categorize her work, so I don't even know how to ask to more like this, but we dig it. This one certainly glints like the winter ice thanks to those crystalline belltones. I'd tweak a few things, sure, yet this one has the trappings of an official arrange album offering, and wouldn't feel out of place at all on a future NieR album I buy at Tower Records. If she ever does that for real, I'll pick it up in Shibuya, that's a promise. :-)



Latest 2 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2024-07-08 11:06:13

I gave the original a listen, and while it sounds amazing in its' own right, I kind of like this version better. The section from around 1:07 - 2:30 was great stuff. Those sparkling bell tones were on point, as well as the all the little percussion elements. The drop at 1:04 was quality.

on 2024-07-06 18:15:22
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Sources Arranged (1 Song)

Primary Game:
NieR (Square Enix , 2010, PS3)
Music by Kakeru Ishihama,Keigo Hoashi,Keiichi Okabe,Takafumi Nishimura
"Snow in Summer"

Tags (13)

Experimental,Glitch Hop
Acoustic Guitar,Bells,Cello,Choir,Organ,Sound FX,Synth,Vocals: Female
Effects > Reversing
Origin > Collaboration
Time > 4/4 Time Signature

File Information

7,828,460 bytes


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