Retro Remix Revue Volume 2
Retro Remix Revue Volume 2
Retro Remix Revue
September 8, 2009
Retro Remix Revue
A follow up to the first album, Retro Remix Revue, Vol. 2 was first released on mid-September 2009 as a digital release on iTunes and was a project spearheaded by Blaine McGurty and Davis Jones. Blaine McGurty, who has a degree in Jazz Studies, is once again behind all the arrangements and also lends his hand at the keyboard. Davis Jones reprises his role as well and is behind the mixing, mastering, and recording of all the arrangements. The first album was an ambitious project that arranges many classic VGM pieces in a variety of styles. How well do these arrangements compare to those in the first album? You’ll just have to read on to find out!
The second volume showcases several series once more. Once again, othe album pens up with a Mario arrangement. Featured from Super Mario Bros. 3, “Overworld BGM, Athletic BGM” takes on a very jazzy style. The majority of the arrangement is dedicated to the “Overworld BGM” theme. It’s a nice subdued pace, quite similar to the original, but the addition of live instruments really helps. As the piece nears its end, the “Athletic BGM” section takes over and adds a bunch more pep to the entire arrangement. After the seamless transition, it really perks you up. I also love how towards the end, the pace is quickened even more, similar to what is done in the game when time is running out! Speaking of Mario, an arrangement from Mario Paint is also featured. “Gnat Attack Level 1” is another jazzy theme, but rather than relying on soft jazz, it takes a brassy big band kind of sound, complete with a kickass saxophone solo. It’s a big improvement, in my opinion, from the first album’s Mario Paint arrangement.
Everyone loves Street Fighter II music, right? Well, I sure hope so! If not, though, I think that the theme featured on this album will change your mind. “Guile’s Theme,” a fan favorite, gets an amazing arrangement. Opening with that big brass sound, it gradually transforms into a rock theme complete with a kickass solo on par with that found on “Big Blue” from their first album. I also love how the rock and brass culminate at the end to form this epic sound. Great job guys! I hope that another Street Fighter II theme makes it onto the next album! Earlier this year, when the physical release of Vol. 1 was released, it included a bonus arrangement featuring a medley of themes from Mega Man 2. Well, Megaman returns as well, but in an arrangement of “Junk Man” from Mega Man 7. I really like how they chose one of the later Mega Man games as they don’t get as much exposure. It’s a great theme, complete with an awesome synth solo, but I think the arrangement could have been a bit stronger if they included a few more elements. Speaking of classic music, a theme from Sonic the Hedgehog, “Marble Zone,” makes an appearance and does it kick ass! It’s another synth based arrangement, but the rock-infused intro fits so well. The various synth sounds throughout the arrangement and the amazing solo only add to the strength of the piece. I still prefer their arrangement of “Chemical Plant Zone,” but this one fits in just fine with their Sonic repertoire.
Another reprising series is the SNES’ Donkey Kong Country. While the first album featured an arrangement from the second game, this one goes back to the beginning and features one of the lesser appreciated themes. “Aquatic Ambience,” as one might suspect, is a very ethereal and calming arrangement. I love the minimalist approach taken for the most of the arrangement. Piano fades in and out, flute makes brief appearances here and there, but the synth solo featured really gives the arrangement some pizzazz. It’s a fantastic addition to the album and one of my favorites. The last series to get a reprise is The Legend of Zelda. Taken from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the ever-popular “Gerudo Valley” is probably the best arrangement on the album as well. It’s a beautiful Spanish-flavored arrangement complete with trumpet, giving it a Mariachi kind of sound. The acoustic guitar work, however, is most impressive. It just gives it this subtle edge and the acoustic guitar solo is just absolutely stunning. I could listen to this one every day!
In addition to all the reprised series, there are a few new series as well. Two platformers join the ranks. The first, “Beginning,” from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, is a nice rock and synth theme that features a lengthy (2 minute) guitar solo that destroys the one in “Big Blue” from the first album (that one clocked in at 90 seconds). It’s an amazing theme and I only hope Castlevania is featured again in the future. The other platformer, featuring everyone’s favorite little pink puffball, is Kirby’s Dreamland 3. “Iceberg,” is the most bizarre of the arrangements. When I went to Los Angeles earlier this year, I got a sneak preview of the album and they mentioned that they arranged this one “for themselves”. It has a fusion sound, complete with various synth effects, some jazz influence, and some progressive elements. It’s quirky and fun, but also fits the Kirby series music pretty nicely.
Fans of the first album may have noticed that there were no RPGs featured on the first album. Fret not! This album features three arrangements for your aural pleasure. While there are no Final Fantasy arrangements, there are some other Square RPGs featured. The first arrangement, “Sad Song, Forest Maze” from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, opens with a somber arrangement of “Sad Song”. Piano and violin give a very endearing and poignant atmosphere and it’s just as touching as the original, if not more so. My personal favorite, “Forest Maze,” from the original is featured in the latter half of the arrangement. It’s playful as ever and the extra touches here and there, such as the violin and brass accompaniments, not to mention the piano section that accentuates the playfulness even more, make for an excellent take on the original. Another Square RPG, Chrono Trigger, is also featured. “Secret of the Forest” is, for the most part, a pretty straightforward theme, but the addition of the violin and the synth keyboard flourishes do give it a nice touch. It’s not my favorite theme on the album, but it’s a fitting tribute to the original.
Last, but not least, Earthbound, also known as Mother 2, is also featured on the album. “Title Intro, Fourside,” the longest arrangement on the album, starts off with a pretty jazzy rendition of the “Title Intro” theme. It features some beautiful string work, but the most striking portion of this arrangement is the brass. There are some beautiful passages featuring brass, with what seems to be a bit of improvisation. The “Fourside” theme also keeps the jazz sound, but it sounds a bit more bossa nova in style to me. Rather than focusing on brass, acoustic guitar is played superbly as the main melody line. It’s a very nice rendition, gives it a bit of a Spanish flair, and is a fantastic addition to the album.
I was a huge fan of the original Retro Remix Revue Vol. 1 and its physical release that featured the bonus Mega Man 2 arrangement. I am an even bigger fan of Retro Remix Revue Vol. 2. There is a much more diverse array of series, styles, and stronger melodies. I think they hit this one out of the park with themes like “Beginning,” “Guile’s Theme,” and “Gerudo Valley,” but even some of the weaker themes, such as “Secret of the Forest” and “Junk Man,” still manage to keep the listener appeased. Do yourself a favorite and pick this one up via iTunes, Amazon MP3s, or preorder a physical copy from the Retro Remix Revue website. I think you’ll enjoy it. Plus, you can also hear samples as well!
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.