Remix Spotlight II

It took forever, but the second remix spotlight is finally ready to print. Since it's been so long, I'll reintroduce the concept. Remix Spotlight shows off interesting remixes and attempts to interview the composers. It's a way of sampling some of the remixing world's best among the five-hundred or so Chrono series remixes out there. Links are provided so you don't have to visit OCR and line djpretzel's pockets with adsense revenue as he niggardly tries to encourage Paypal donations for a site funded by ZDNet. Let's get started!

'The Wailing Lizard' by pancakechef

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This one was nearly lost for good. A VGMix WIP, it fell into the black hole of false promises and jerkism left in the wake of VGMix 2's downfall. Fortunately, I had it stashed in deep folder. pancakechef has another appearance on this list; he was an up and coming remixer who sadly seems to have retired. Moving on, 'Lizard Dance' is one of the most energetic, charged tracks on the Chrono Cross album, which certainly sports more thoughtful, atmospheric tracks than your usual RPG fare. The piece easily captures the fun tropical attitude of Arni and El Nido, giving the innocent task of finding scales for an angry girlfriend a wild flair. Pancakechef preserves that spirit here by rendering the song with a simple jazz arrangement. What starts as a jovial shuffle soon erupts into a four on the floor blend of brass. The sandy 'Lizard Dance' transitions to the city well, adopting a decent soundfont to keep the lizard on his feet. Sadly, it was a work in progress and terminates after the two-minute mark. It's a shame this one was never finished.

'Green Amnesia' by Disco Dan

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Aitrus: A remix of the CT piece, "Memories of Green," this piece nonetheless feels more like a CC piece, possibly due to the light guitar background, reminiscent of some of the overworld pieces in Cross. This is a nice relaxing song, definitely a song for the overworld map, when you're looking for a break from the constant battles. Around the 4:00 minute mark, it does pick up some, with background drums shifting into a doubletime, but the foreground music remaining at the same even tempo. Overall, it's a nice, relaxing piece, one I'd definitely recommend.

ZeaLitY: Amen to that. This song's breezy, dreamy sound makes me feel as if I'd just woke up on a matchless afternoon in Fiona's Forest. It seems to glide above clouds with the lightest touch in its introduction, then comes to earth amidst multitudes of leaves descending in the wind. There's not a better tribute to Fiona or her greenery out there. The soft sound is almost phantom in its sweet caress of one's ears, even when the song adopts a faster pace towards the end. It exits just as it came -- seeming to rise beyond the sky like a dreamer drawing her final conscious breath before a relaxing sleep. There are obvious imitators of Disco Dan's style post Triforce-Majeure, but none have equaled that work or this side of the remixer. "Amnesia" is accurate -- just imagine forgetting yourself among the wind of a perfect summer day. If you want a somewhat somber approach to this same feeling, try Scott Peeples's 'Requiem for a Green Revolution'.

'Far Away Memories' by Neil Benjamin

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SilentMartyr: Neil does a great job here of capturing the essense of the final song from the game. Using a guitar as the focal instrument worked very well, it separated the main notes of the origional work from the background drums very well. He slows it down a little, which adds to the emotion of the piece. He did not stray too much away from the original piece, but sometimes small changes can make just as much difference as large ones. This is shortened also, he does not included the final minute or so, where the music that is also played when Crono is revived on Death Peak is played.

ZeaLitY: Let's see what the man himself has to say:

1. What in or about the original song drew you to make a remix?

'To Far Away Times' is a song that gives closure. It's ability to make you close your eyes and sigh after going through an epic adventure across time, is what drew me in the most.

2. Are you planning to do similar mixes of Chrono trigger songs?

This song was made for submission to Ocremix.org. Looking through their list of remixes, there are a LOT of songs based on Squaresoft music. I would really like to explore the music of games that aren't covered as much. But that being said, doing another Chrono Trigger song is not out of the question. I was really proud of the acoustic style I used for 'To Far Away Memories', and I would like to do another song along those lines.

3. What is your favorite aspect or part in Chrono Trigger?

The flying-away-on-a-balloon ending.

'Underwater Palace Glitchy' by Figaro

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Glitchy stuff can be humorous. Ever accidentally bump your cartridge a little out of the slot and witness the game go crazy? Sounds like Figaro got too excited upon reaching the Ocean Palace. This is one of those "throwaway" pieces like Leis Miller's "Pure Crap" Super Mario RPG take or BEERmix. It's somewhat of a joke tune, and you'd probably never burn it to CD or put it on your mp3 player. Still, it's sort of like weird art in an art museum. You don't like it, but you still might say "hmm, that did take a smidgeon of creativity." This came around on February 8, 2003.

'Just Chill' by The Pancake Chef

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Aitrus: A remix of CC's "Predicament" (which plays if you try to scale the cliff outside of Viper Manor), this is a nice little tune. It's relaxing in the same sort of way that "Green Amnesia" is, but a little more upbeat, with both a box organ and a violin carrying the melody, making it feel almost like an old sailing song, switching up throughout the song. The background is dominated by a steady electronic drum going throughout most of the song. Overall, the effect is very nice, and I'd honestly rather play this during that part than the original song.

ZeaLitY: 'Predicament' is one of the best pieces on the Cross soundtrack, so Pancake Chef already had one point in his favor. The original brings to mind a series of trials put on by the gods in ancient Greece, or perhaps the struggles faced by Odysseus and adventurers of his kind. The song promotes that kind of grandiose sense of epic, heroic struggle. 'Just Chill' makes it a bit more earthy, and as Aitrus alluded to, the box organ is right at home on Fargo's ship -- the host of the Grand Slam tournament, where 'Predicament' is played. Perhaps one can consider this "Predicament at night", as the more laid-back style and hip beat disarm the sense of high adventure and invoke an attitude of cool strategy in its place. Pancake Chef had an ear for arranging, and he did the original justice here.

'Enter the Frog' by JigginJonT

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SilentMartyr: A techno remix of Frog's Theme, done very well. The part that always puts a large smile on my face whenever I hear it is the sound effects of the Masamune being unsheathed and Frog ribbiting. Thier placement in the song is done phenominally well, and adds so much more to the intensity of the music. Without it, the song is above average. But with it, it makes it an exteremely well done piece. I highly reccomend this to everyone, even people who do not enjoy techno (I don't listen to it anymore) will love this song.

ZeaLitY: Time for the remixer to speak!

1. Using the sound effects was genious, what brought you to add them to the song?

I'm not a techno artist per se, so when I constructed this remix I was working off stereotypes revolving around the cheesy remix genre. Cliche number one is to include a sound byte from the source material, so I pretty much took that and ran with it.

2. Obviously Frog's theme is a popular song from the Chrono Trigger OST, did the song or the character bring you to make the remix?

It was the song. I was looking to remix something from CT that had a strong melody. If a song has a strong melody, you can deconstruct it and rearrange it in all kinds of ways, while still keeping it recognizable. Frog's theme is one of the stronger melodies off the OST, so there you have it.

3. Did you ever think that having a techno based mix would make it more difficult to keep the theme of the song?

No. Refer to question 2.

'Chrono Trigger' by Juvenile

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Juvenile, a Japanese remixer, submitted this simply-named piece to the Celestia Square Enix remixing project. It's a reflective piece, apt for a retrospective look at the series or a nostalgic drifting of Chrono thoughts. Aside from the good production values, what sets it apart further from its peers is the subject matter: Chronopolis! There's something intrinsically ethereal and special about that place, felt most when you visit during Chrono Cross. The atmosphere is sterile, futuristic...yet, as Serge might say in Radical Dreamers, the air is "thick with fate". Chronopolis was the seat and carrer of Belthasar's highest machinations and plan for Project Kid, giving the facility a weighty, important feel -- similar to how the futuristic Dead Sea is slightly unnerving after spending all one's time in the colorful tropics of El Nido. After giving the theme decent treatment, the piece segues into the B section of the Chrono Trigger suite. As a deep Chrono fan -- and I hope others feel this way -- this simple, relaxed treatment layered over the Chronopolis beat provides a wonderful feeling.

Imagine that the adventure is done; Belthasar takes a last look at the empty rooms, long-bereft of operators or friends. Musing on enigma, he quietly flips the light and departs in the Neo-Epoch. It's a moving tribute to the series at large, operating with the only glimpse of the timeline's good future we've ever seen as its foundation. That relaxed percussion and the airy pianos give the song a sort of nebulous feeling, which goes well with nostalgia. The string synthesizer which comes in towards the end takes this reflection to its maximum. Serious fans know the Chrono series as something deep, engrossing, captivating -- something worthy of our level of obsession. That awareness shines through in these final moments as the song slowly exits, as if sending off the closing credits of a final game. But we know that this is not how it ends. Masato Kato wanted to make another Chrono game, and hopefully, he will have his shot. That leaves 'Chrono Trigger' as a reflection -- but not the final, or even penultimate. If Kato gets his shot, then the fun is only beginning.

That wraps it up for this one. Enjoy the music!

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