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Game Music, Miscellaneous

dwelling-of-duels-march-2014-sunsoft-month-review

DWELLING OF DUELS – MARCH 2014 SUNSOFT MONTH REVIEW

Email This Post Share on Facebook DWELLING OF DUELS – MARCH 2014 SUNSOFT MONTH REVIEWTweet This Post Print This Post 04.24.14 | | 2 Comments


Sunsoft month!

What the devil is a Sunsoft?

If you’re old like me, you can remember playing Arabian and Kangaroo at the local arcade or Chuck E. Cheese or Showbiz Pizza or movie theater or bowling alley.  Getting their start in 1978, they later moved from the arcade machine mecca of quarter-guzzling mayhem to the comfort of the living room, bad throw rugs, and sofas badly in need of reupholstering for the 8-bit consoles of yesteryear.  Like several companies, they had their ups and downs as it relates to their relative commercial success (great success in the 8-bit world, mediocre sales in the 16-bit world, and then a resurgence when the PlayStation made its way to your doorstep (and I say your doorstep because I never owned one d: )).  Their library boasted titles such as Batman franchise games, Gimmick, Blaster Master, Chameleon Twist, responsibility for ports that came to be known as Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Legends, and a whole wealth of other fantastic entertainment experiences.  Get your list-on at this convenient wikipedia world wide web page unit.

Dwelling of Duels paid tribute to Batman Gremlins Gimmick Journey to Silius Sunsoft this month as just such a publisher and – once again – amazement ensued.  Here’s a gut-reaction as-I-listen rundown of this month’s spinning of straw into gold:

#1 – Midee - Batman  - Cleaning Out Axis

My broheim from The Smash Brothers! Midee hasn’t had an entry into the realm of DoD since his pairing with Prozax back in June of 2005 (also the first month I ever entered DoD) with a spectacular track.  I’ve often mentioned that the world of DoD needs more Prozax and Midee.  Well lookie here. We get at least half the wish!

This alt-rock incredible variance of styles keeps a listener crazy interested from everything offered in the track.  Brass blasts, super colossal 60′s spy riffs, excellent guitar work,  and even an accurate nod to the original theme song of the television show that made Adam West’s tights a household name. This arrangement has just about everything you could possibly want.  Unless you want djent.  Then this track can’t really help you.

Also, Midee cheats.  He’s among the best mixing guys to ever set foot into our little scene as evidenced by both this track and the old Bacon EP.  Some of the best and most well-produced material available.  He takes full advantage of this and climbs to the top of the charts after a nearly 9 year absence.  For the love of all that is holy dude, please don’t wait another 9 years to come back.  We need so much more of this.

#2 - ansgaros - Flashback – Who Was I Again?

Something from Flashback!  How could it possibly go wrong?

Well, it can’t really.  It almost borders on what my brain thinks of as Doom Metal (although it’s not really) with great metal guitar playing and THAT BASS TONE.  Good lord that stuff is thicker than Master Norg’s left thigh in Final Fantasy 8 (note: i’m not named after him.  stop asking).

Something I truly enjoy about this track that sets it apart from most metal tracks is that everything can be heard clearly. Every guitar tone, every drum hit, every note.  ansgaros has done a fabulous job of managing his mixing to make certain we can actually hear what it is that he’s trying to accomplish and share with the rest of the outside world.  It comes across swimmingly.

#3 - GearX2 - Batman – Fear Of The Detonator

Back to the Batman.

Unless I’m mistaken, we have a variety of piezo-electric acoustic guitar recordings (variax?  actual acoustic electric ?) to make up a fantastic rendition of a track from that soundtrack.  Delicious playing at that.  The rhythm stays consistent and doesn’t distract from the great playing.

If you listened to this track on speakers, I highly recommend giving it a run on headphones at least once.  Having the rhythm guitars panned hard left and right and played ever so slightly different from one side to the next is an old trick to not only widen the stereo field of the instrument but can create some thick recordings as well as giving the listener a great headphone-listening experience.  Boatloads of fun to be had.  Do it now!!

#4 - Ivan Hakštokstreifig - Gimmick! – Good Ending

Well lookie at this pair of musicians here.  What a combination!

There is no way that this could be anything other than a happy ending track.  It’s so happy my entire life has suddenly become sunshine and lollipops.  I love the marriage of sawsynth pads and clean + dirty guitar tones as the song progresses along.  The dueling guitar solos from right to left in panning is also a whole mess of fun to listen to.

#5 - Mutherpluckin’ BKGS - Gimmick! – Strange Memories of Death

Another combination act and another Gimmick song all lined up in a row.  The groupings are very interesting this month!

Here we get to a style parody of  Bruno Mars “Treasure” (which it’s actually probably not a style parody of it but it makes me think of it.  it’s just missing the the “OOOH!” on every 7th beat) brought into the world of Gimmick music.  Great keyboard playing throughout the track.  Very interesting use of panning in the background parts from time to time at different ranges.  I -love- that trick.  I was going to comment about how it’s an underutilized feature of the stereo field but it seems like more people are taking advantage of it.  It’s like people are learning stuff about mixing or something.  Double Tee Eff, mate.

That bass groove is so tasty.  Tasty like ribs falling off the bone.  Slathered in BBQ sauce.  That’s the kind of tasty I’m talking about.

#6 - Boroda-kun - Gremlins 2 – Big Problems Of Small Gremlins

Now onto the Gremlins 2 block.

Seriously.  It’s like it was planned.

The start of the guitarwork after the synth ambiance was a little bit on the abrupt side but once it gets in, it starts screaming.  The lead guitar tone is a bit on the thin side of things but the rhythm guitars are absolutely massive.  Everything is easily heard as well which satisfies my pet-peeve checklist of things that everyone needs to know.  HEAR ALL THE THINGS.

Great variety in a straight rock song.  Nothing too horrifyingly fancy.  Great track that you can sit down and appreciate.  The pregnant pause at the end is pure gold.

#7 - Mega Beardo - Gremlins 2 – The Uke Batch 

Ok seriously.  I read the title and I expected to hear Ukulele all up in this.  After a bit of the intro I also expected P-Diddy (or puff daddy or whatever the devil Sean Combs is going by these days) to bust in.  I can’t explain why it felt like that other than the intro really lends to a wicked rap-over.

The guitar parts are, to my ear, ridiculously difficult.  Which is why you don’t see _ME_ trying them.  I leave it to the experts like Monsieur Beardot to handle those parts.  The Russian Disco drums make this track work so well too.  It makes me want to get up and slam dance.  This is a good thing.  The feeling of wanting to get up and slam dance.  Not actually slam dancing.  Have you ever been slam dancing?  I recall it being rather difficult on the digestive tract.

Hey Viking Guitar.  If you ever put a band together, you should totally poach this guy.  Oh wait.

#8 - Hyde209 - Gremlins 2 – Gremlin Civilization

Is Gremlin Civilization the new Sid Meier outing?  ….. i was just asking. d:

One of the nice properties of something like DoD is the fact that sometimes the same songs are going to get covered but you get a huge variety of styles.  I absolutely love the synths used in this rendition.  The bass work is also fantastic.  It’s either a really good synth (Trillian/Trilogy?) or the strings are super new.  Or they’re not, in which case I bow to your ability to get tone out of awful things. :D

#9 - MusicallyInspiredJabo - Panorama Cotton – Paganrama Cotton

I love the introduction of the song with the combination of what sounds like piano and synth leads together and then the bringing in of the guitars.  The guitar solo panning part at the beginning is used to great effect and OH THAT PINCH HARMONIC.  Gorgeous.  The synth pads and the guitar rhythms work really well together and the lead guitar work coming in eventually lends to a great overall sound.

The tuning of the lead guitar seems to be slightly off from the rest of the playing though.  Ever so slightly.  Might be an intonation thing or just old strings.  Get it checked out to be safe.

There is also a very strange pulsing compression of some kind.  I can’t tell exactly what is causing it but it sounds like it’s on the bus and it might be pulsing from the lead guitar.  In headphones especially it’s a huge distraction.  Perhaps some manual fading work rather than using a compressor.  If that’s not what’s happening, I apologize for the mistake.  It’s what it sounds like though – you know, like when someone uses a sidechain compressor on the main bus mix to the kick drum and the release is way too long?  It sounds like this is happening with one of the instruments like the lead guitar.  It’s too obvious.  Cut back the compression a bit.

FADEOUT!!!  SOMEONE CALL JVINCION! :D

#10 - Katamari - Trip World – Trippin’ So Good - above average

Fantastic dragon quest-esque castle introduction before the MTL comes in.  Very ambitious lead guitar playing too!  The rock feel doesn’t get too boring by having a wide variety of drum patterns utilized which is a curse of quite a few arrangements out there.  Boring drums are boring  (long cat is long).

In the section that starts at about 1:56 there is a kick drum triplet pattern that is out there by itself and all alone.  I highly recommend doing something with the rhythm guitars to help emphasize that.  Like muted chords or something that will help solidify what’s happening there.  Otherwise it feels naked.  This isn’t burning man.  Appropriately clothe your kick drum pattern.  Great decisive ending!

#11 - pingosimon, ErichWK - Journey to Silius – Journey to Silius Title

For some reason, this track reminds me greatly of The Advantage or The Minibosses.  Straightforward covering of an original source song.  The mixing is spot on for the style and everything is easily heard.

THOSE BRASS BLATS! :D

I absolutely have to make mention of the recreated NES echo effect as played by guitar.  If it’s something you’re used to playing it’s a cool trick in the bag.  Learning how to do it live?  It’s bloody hard.  My hat goes off to you on the technical know-how and for pulling it off so well.  The timing in making that work is absolutely brutal.

#12 - Daniel Alm - Journey to Silius – Unmanned Intercourse

Oh man that rhythm guitar tone.  The combination with the organ.  I am an absolute SUCKER for B4 goodness.  Great combination of sounds here.

That might be the longest crash cymbal trail I’ve ever heard.  Wow!

This is probably nitpicking, but work on lead guitar vibrato.  I need to work on it too so we can bounce it off each other.  I can’t identify what it is about this that doesn’t work for me but it’s almost like there are attempts to get a good vibrato going and it comes across as just an aimless waver of some kind.

Those SFX in the middle.  They’re probably not meant to be funny but they crack me up for some reason.  In a good way.

#13 – MaxMaker – Aero the Acro-Bat 2 – Fort At Sunset

Really, really long drum intro.  Interesting choice.

I can’t explain what it is about this song.  Maybe it’s the total variety show of instruments that get used all over the map in it, maybe it’s that it seems to repeat itself.  It’s like a whole mash of rhythm hooks piled on top of each other one after another but I can’t stop LISTENING to it.  I wake up in the middle of the night hearing the song.  It’s so weird but I love it!

#14 – Cyan – Albert Odyssey – Dead, Non-existent But Still Here

Dude I haven’t heard this kind of ambient introduction to something since my tracker days in the mid 90s.  You’re like the KFMF of the VG arrangement scene. :D

The track itself lives up to the introduction SPOT ON.  This is totally what I personally would imagine it sounds like in purgatory/limbo.  Just … kinda there.  Lots of ambient sound.  Two minutes into the track and I’m still waiting to hear what the live instrument is.  THERE ARE RULES. (:  Totally enjoying the experience though.

THERE we go.  Live all up in this.

Yeah, the track title and the entire vibe are the perfect combination.  It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a good listen.  Anyone who gave up before getting 2:30 into it missed out!

There are some tuning issues between some of the instruments.  Might have been deliberate.  Felt weird.

BACK TO THE PURGATORY.  Limbo fade out.  Good times.

#15 - Larceny - Batman: Return of the Joker – Why So Serious?

Did the start marker come in a bit too soon?  It seems like the first hit was cut off ever so slightly.

Joker quotes!  Yay!

The drum parts are nice and varied if mixed a bit interestingly.  Difficult to hear the kick drum through all the rest of the sounds.  The guitar playing is noticeably out of sync with several of the drum parts.  Follow that foundation like it’s the yellow brick road.  Re-record parts or punch in if you have to, although the preference is live playing.  Then again, this is what makes DoD so awesome.  Opportunities to practice things and develop!  If it’s any consolation, most of your rhythm playing is better than mine. :D  I have to work like crazy to get things in time with the drums.

I think I heard some clipping where you hit the headroom in the mix.  Or over-saturation from a pluigin of some form.  Either way, it was a bit much.  Back it off just a bit and do some manual fader work if you have to.  It’s worth the effort.  It’s a good outing here.  Just needs a bit of polishing and it’ll shine.

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That’s it for this month!   Just in time for the new batch of entries for April’s free month to be coming in real soon. See you again in May to run down the bounty!

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