Game Music, Miscellaneous

DWELLING OF DUELS – APRIL 2014 FREE MONTH REVIEW

May 26, 2014 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook DWELLING OF DUELS – APRIL 2014 FREE MONTH REVIEWon Twitter

What is a free month?

Nothing but a miserable pile of AWESOME MUSIC, THAT’S WHAT.

The April 2014 edition of Dwelling of Duels failed to disappoint.  Failed miserably at disappointing.  Except for maybe the order in which the songs were placed.

Then again.

Placements in Dwelling of Duels are like points in Who’s Line Is It Anyway?.  The points don’t matter and the placements are hilarious.  Do you know the money I would pay to see the kind of music John Sessions or Mike McShane might be able to come up with if they suddenly decided they wanted to rearrange old video game music?  Yes, I’m that hipster who remembers how much more he enjoyed Clive Anderson than he did Drew Carey.

Alright enough of that.  Onto the songs!

(edit: i just realized i haven’t been making effective links to either the site, the months within the site, or the individual songs.  fixing that)

#1 – Fappleman and Princess of Light – Bucky O’Hare – Bucky O’Hate

So to the uninitiated, this is not actually a creation by Snappleman or Prince of Darkness.  This is a creation by other people who have parodied their names and created an entry with a surprisingly accurate re-creation of their combined style.  The song kinda has to rule in order to top the listings of any given category (or mooniniteG has to skip voting for a month) and this track definitely fits the bill. Everything from the over-the-top guitar pick slide to the parallel lead guitars with octaved synth leads.  This is the Snappleman and Prince of Darkness rock track tribute to Bucky O’Hare that Snappleman and Prince of Darkness wish they could pull together.  Have you met those two?  They’re among the top tier of musicians I know personally.  One of them is excruciatingly busy and the other is Greek.  The likelihood of an actual combination of their powers could potentially destroy the universe. Or at least level Brooklyn.

Anyway.

This track has all of the elements you want to hear in a rock track. Great playing, solid timing, variety in the drums, expert use of instruments, and a healthy dose of excellent mixing.    The guitar harmonies that start at 1:50 are almost spine tingling.  Everything from start to finish for this track is satchel to the wall.  Go forth and listen in good spirit.

#2 – VankiP – Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Earthworm Jim 2 – Chemical Tangerines

This track starts out as a surprising feel of almost Russian disco and then slides nicely into a rock groove.  It’s the worlds worst kept secret that I am a huge fan of the use of organs in arrangements and there are plenty to go around.  The guitar work is well done.  Most of the percussion is relatively simple and repeated but doesn’t necessarily require a massive amount of variety to get the point across. One thing that scratches at the back of my neck is that around 1:31 it feels like it repeats without doing much else.  Doesn’t take away from the great track when all is said and done but it does start to feel a bit same-ish after a while without much variation.  Very abrupt ending too.  Interesting!

#3 – Affection State – Battletoads and Double Dragon – Crazy Toads

Ok, the intro had me absolutely fooled in terms of fidelity.  When the low pass filter finished its thing and the rest of the guitars came in it figuratively slayed me. I love that I can hear pretty much everything from start to finish in this track.  There is a nice array of things happening between the percussion, the rhythm guitars, the leads, the bass.  I can hear every single thing happening.  The mixing is spectacularly done.  The bass tone is CRUSHINGLY BRUTAL in this track.  Sounds like it’s picked but nobody’s perfect and it sounds AWESOME. The overall flow of the track is also very well paced!  I can listen to the track and actually see a pattern of feel that goes along with it and it makes it very easy to want to listen to it over and over again.  Which I have.  A lot.  The fake ending was FANTASTIC too.  Totally fooled me.

#4 – Pumpkin King – Donkey Kong Country 1-3 – Kong Symphony

I’ll get this one out of the way real fast.  LONG TRACK IS LONG. Also, I’m a complete and total hypocrite.

Now that we have that out of the way.

This is one of those songs that has a whopping 8:44 timestamp and I –swear– that by the time the song is done you have no idea where the time went.  There is a wide variety of music to keep you interested and the pacing is very well done. The percussion sound set feels a bit on the sterile side however.  Maybe it’s just because of the nature of the music that it is backing but my ear wants it to be a bit on the grittier side and perhaps slightly less perfect in its quantized timing. There are parts of this that remind me of an old INXS instrumental that was done a number of years ago too, which of course is a total win as far as I’m concerned. (:  Fantastic song.

#5 – Ivan Hakštok – Gunbird 2 – Signs of Lust

One of the things that I love about free months is that every once in a while stuff comes out that I’ve never heard the source material of or even heard of the game before.

This is one of those tracks.

Never heard of Gunbird.  Or Gunbird 2: Electric BirdFlu.

That’s not actually it’s title.

Anyway.

Ivan returns bringing the HAPPY CORE to our little contest.  This is one of those songs where you can’t help but smile while listening to it.  Unless you’re a total curmudgeon.  Then be my guest and jut out your lower jaw and contemplate the world geopolitical situation and fail to appreciate this great track. Great mixing, nice use of some deliciously fuzzy synth pads, and expert instrumentalization make for a fun and lively listen.  Highly recommended listen!

FAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEEE OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

#6 – Nestalgica – Punch-Out!! – Green Gloves of Power

Well lookie here at the new take on an old and recognized favorite.  Punch Out has a very memorable soundtrack with chord progressions that cover songs generally will follow to. the. letter. This is not one of those songs that follows everything to. the. letter.  and it works!  I will admit at first to wondering how I felt about the change-up and I’ve come to the conclusion after several listens that this shortie is definitely worth listening to repeatedly! Oh man that divebomb.  You win all the things, sir.  ALL the things.

#7 – PokérusVGM – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Dungeons to Explore

Unless I’m mistaken, this is a track created using quite a few live instruments that are live mic’d.  The drum kit specifically sure -feels- like it was recorded live.  I’m going to get this part out of the way real quick: the use of some kind of compression is -very- distracting.  I can’t tell if it’s a sidechain compressor involving the kick drum and or the snare drum, but when first listening to the song it comes out as very distracting.  As the track progresses it seems like it either grows on you or just doesn’t feel as strong.  But at the beginning it’s quite a shock!

Now that I’ve gotten that little bit out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.  This track is 4:17 of INCREDIBLE COVERAGE where a link to the past is concerned.  There are some mind bending progressive elements that I would not have expected to hear at all and they got all pulled out of the woodwork.  And that bass tone.  Oh man that bass tone.  Right out of a Dave LaRue clinic on tone.  So very tasty. There are quite a few link to the past arrangements out there.  This is one for the books that is absolutely worth listening to.

#8 – GearX2 – Muramasa Demon’s Blade – Four Seasons Of Muramasa

MTL!  MTL!  M T L!  \m/

This is another game where I am completely unfamiliar with the source material and am now quite interested in hearing the source material.  If the cover is any indication of what the source material is supposed to be like, I am -dying- to hear it.  Great stuff in here.

Am I mistaken or is there a tribute to the FF7 main combat theme in there? o.O

BLAST BEATS!  TONY DICKINSON, I HEAR THOSE ARE YOUR FAVORITES!

Absolutely adore the rhythm guitar slow arpeggios later in the song.  Everything is super well played and the overall tone and sound mixes really well.  Love the 7th on the end too. 😀

#9 – Brandon Strader – Call of Duty: Ghosts – Blackwater Ops

Oh call of duty.  I suspect that this arrangement is the new fraternity house national anthem.  Which is funny because it doesn’t sound a thing like greek music to me.  Opa!

So speaking of rock anthems, this thing starts out like an 80s rock ballad anthem.  The kind of thing that you would expect to hear during the credits of the Karate Kid Meets The Breakfast Club.  If that were a thing.  It moves on from sounding entirely like an 80s slow rock anthem to picking up the feel and bringing synth leads in. I don’t think the track ever entirely escapes that 80s feel at all.

This is not a bad thing.  The 80s spawned some incredible music.  Peter Cetera would be proud.  If he actually cared about our little scene.

The acoustic interlude works well before building back into the sinister drop tuning MTL.  And then BLAM it’s over.  That was abrupt!

#10 – Hyde209 – Donkey Kong Country 2 – Lockjaw Stock and Barrel

I swear that when the percussion started in the beginning of this song that it was going to end up being a style parody of Hot for Teacher.  Faked out again!

As weird as it sounds, the entire track reminds me STRONGLY of old european demoscene tracked music meets Luigi’s Mansion.  I can’t explain -why- other than that’s just how it feels.  It’s the selection of the samples and synths that really does it actually, now that I’m thinking more about it.  It almost -feels- tracked, in fact.  I’m pretty sure it’s not but it sure feels like it is. (:

Actually, this is the Tangerine Dream rendition of music from Donkey Kong Country 2.  Thusly I decree it.  So if you’re into Tangerine Dream and that realm of music, this song is for you.  If you’re not into that kind of thing, you’re either a terrorist or don’t like 80s-90s electronica.  Which might be one and the same, actually.

#11 – ErichWK – Gunple: Gunman’s Proof – DemiSeed BOSS THEME!!

Another track where I’m completely unfamiliar with the source!  I love this month!

Aside from the fact that the mixing is really quiet compared to most of the other songs this month (those of you who are proponents of the loudness war, you might want to stop reading now), it was refreshing to actually use my volume knob!  What a concept!

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy meets the Brian Setzer Orchestra meets Yoko Kanno and we have an arrangement of Gunple!  More ska chords than a LuIzA arrangement!  This is another one of those songs where you can’t HELP but enjoy listening to it, even if you have no clue what the original source sounds like.  Very unique for this month!  DoD needs more big band ska.  Thusly I decree.

DAT SAX!!  OH LAWDY!!

#12 – Katamari – Baldur’s Gate – Heroes and Hamsters

Baldur’s Gate.  Freaking Baldur’s Gate.  I’ve been DYING to hear someone do something from Baldur’s Gate that didn’t suck.

And then someone comes out and merges Man in the Box with music from Baldur’s Gate.  HELL YES.

Keep in mind here.  We’re at track 12 placements and so far NOTHING SUCKS!  I just wanted to point that out.

The tempo for this track kicks in finally and starts to feel more like Iron Maiden than Alice in Chains.  We’ve gone from one really good thing to another really good thing and then it finally branches out and starts to sound like its own thing.  The mixing of this track isn’t quite as sophisticated as some of the others in the grand scheme of the loudness war and I’m here to say it doesn’t MATTER.

The sound of the amp noise not gated out of manually removed -is- a bit distracting at times because the tone is like a flat 6th of the key that it’s in.  Not a -huge- deal but it’s there.  I personally do love the sound of an amp but it’s there so short before being cut off that it’s almost like having another percussive instrument involved.

Absolutely fantastic song.  I’ve listened to this one willingly and repeatedly several times now.

#13 – Munzadeth – Pop’n Music 12 – Magical Voice Shower

When the toms come in, I swear i was waiting for “HER NAME WAS LOLA, SHE WAS A SHOWGIRL”

Eh?  EH???

Anyway.

This track just manages to squeak over the 2 minute minimum requirement.  The track is very interesting in how it approaches the style.  I’m not entirely sure if this ends up as menu music, a great salsa/mambo, or something you’d hear in game credits.  I like the variety of possibilities here!

Short, sweet, and to the point.  Great!

#14 – The SamAreAye – Minecraft – Wet Hands and Dry Breath

Oh for the love of Pete.

Minecraft?  Seriously? 😀

Wet Hands, Dry Breath, and unfortunately you caught me right after I finished my workout and it’s helping me to nod off into lullaby bay just off of hushabye mountain.

Our little world definitely needs more tracks with a strong piano influence.  Oh hey there flute accompaniment!  I wondered what was going to drop next.

This might be something that is just me. The flute and the piano are just a few cycles off of each other.  I swear if you’re some kind of A432 apologist or something I’m going to destroy your entire township.

Just kidding.  I might do a track in A432 just for kicks and to make people irritated with me.  Because IRRITATING IS FUN! 😀

#15 – Lauren the FluteJohn Pike – Bastion – We Can’t Go Back No More

Oh man this track starts out ULTRA STRONG.  Great vocal and background fluting.

Nitpicky moment: sing slightly less “wide” to keep uniform volume in parts where you want to be uniform.  Makes it easier to keep a good flow.

Ok, the percussion came in and … it lost me.  For a little while at least.  The piano and the percussion never seem to quite match up to each other. This might be deliberate! I’m not sure.  However, it is a bit of a distraction.

Male vocals are very serious and WAY too loud in the mix. They’re not bad by any stretch but they -really- overpower the mix.  Strangely enough, when I listen to this track in headphones the male vocal isn’t quite as strong as it was when I was listening on a stereo where it was quite overpowering.

As the song progresses it starts to gel together better.  Although now in headphones the male vocals are overpowering the female vocals in a situation where it -feels- like there are two distinct melodies happening.  Balance is rough in something like this where there are so many natural and acoustic instruments. Especially when a couple of those instruments are voices.

If I were going to go back and change anything, it would be this: the relationship between the piano, the flutes, and the tambourine (i believe it was a tambourine). Gel that together and it will carry what is by design obviously a great song to new heights in execution.

#16 – GamBit – Power Blade 2 – Underwater Mercenaries

Ahhh, lovely light-hearted rock track to pay tribute to Power Blade 2.

Actually, we’re all really paying tribute to BornInCrimson when all is said and done.  But I digress.

Other than a few spots where it seems like there are some interesting (and bizarre) relationships between lead and harmony instruments, this song is rock solid all the way through.  I would consider rebalancing the song to have a bit less rhythm guitar present later on, as it swallows up the strings that become the melody.  When the lead guitar comes back all is well in the world, but that part where it feels like the strings should be taking charge, either bring them up or back the rhythms off a bit to accommodate.  Balance balance balance.

#17 – DEMON ShineGami – Mitsume ga Tooru – Kiss My Third Eye

Hahahahah holy crap.  The introduction of the song did NOT prepare me for the crushingly metal rhythm guitars.  I love a good twist every now and again. (:

There isn’t a whole lot I can say about this track.  It’s well mixed.  I would review either the guitar tuning or intonation.  Something didn’t line up right between the melody and harmony parts and it was probably more intonation than anything else.

If it’s any consolation, intonation and tuning are my absolute bane in almost every track I do because i’m laaaaaaaaazy.

Oh hey, I actually thought the song was going to end short.  and then I checked out the timestamp on it and WE ARE IN FOR A RIDE!  9:09 of good times with Mitsume ga Tooru.

If you really wanted to be ironic, you could hook up a Roland 909 module for great fun and super profit.  IRONY.

Since this isn’t a soundtrack I’m particularly familiar with, I’m going to have to take your word on it that it’s covers of music from this game. (:

There is quite a bit of variety in feel throughout the course of what is obviously now a megamedley of various pieces from the game.  I approve!  Great transitions from one track to the next too, by the way.  Transitions are generally something that suffers in larger medleys and you’ve got something good going here.

#18 – Cyan – Dragon’s Fury – You Belong to a Dismal Skeleton

The only thing missing from the intro to this track is doom metal growl scream.  The intro actually has the feel of mud to it since EVERYTHING is fighting for the same frequency range.  I would explore some creative equalization and maybe separate things out a little bit so that the power chords don’t be all Monstro and swallow everything whole.

The guitar playing through!  The melodies and harmonies!  This is probably the most sinister song I’ve heard in a really long time. Does the original track sound anything like this?  If so, it might be the greatest soundtrack ever written.  Fidelity concerns aside, this is incredible!  How did people not appreciate it?  Actually, they probably got mired in the mud at the beginning and just clicked next song.  Which is silly.  Oh first impressions.  People gotta listen to all the notes!

When all is said and done, great track. (:  Just some fidelity matters to attend to.

#19 – valence – Mega Man 2 – Flash In the Pan Man

Dude, it takes quite a few guts to actually bring Mega Man to the table of DoD considering the absolute wealth of Mega Man music that is already out there.

So now that we have that discussion point taken care of, it takes even MORE guts to take the chord structure of the original song and tweak it out the way you did.  I LOVE it when people mess with the progressions and get new and exciting ways of interpreting it.  This is the kind of thing that needs to happen quite a bit more often if you ask me.  I’m also guilty of abusing the hell out of it so maybe I’m the wrong person to ask.  It also feels a teensy bit like you might have run out of ideas near the end and inserted a sound effect and called it good.  😀

——————————-

Now.  normally this would be the end.  I don’t typically have anything to say about the alternates because they are alternates.

Alternates?  WTF, norg?

There are frequently alternate entries that are tossed in for a variety of reasons.  Not long enough, not anonymous enough, not appropriate enough, whatever.

This month had a single alternate entry.

#ZZ – pingosimon – Wario’s Woods – Wario’s Woods Stage Clear (Instrumental)

So why am I bringing this track up?

It’s too short but it’s probably my favorite track of the month after everything is listened to.  pingosimon has a huge history of incredible music and instrumentation that he’s contributed to our little world.  Dude can sing too.  But seriously.  Make sure you give this track a listen if you normally ignore the alternates.  It’s one of the best if not THE best tracks of the entire month of possibilities.

———————————————-

That’s it and that’s all for this month!  Tune in next time for WATER MONTH!

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