FATE: A Tribute to Majora’s Mask

Of all the game music that I’ve been wanting to arrange/remix as part of the Materia Collective, the music from The Legend of Zelda series has been at the top of my wishlist. Last year Materia Collective released an excellent orchestral Ocarina of Time album Hero of Time from Eric Buchholtz. This year I was able to join in on the Materia Collective album FATE: A Tribute to Majora’s Mask to cover music from the Nintendo 64 sequel.

Majora’s Mask has been one of my favorite games in the Zelda series, despite it being one of the more unusual entries. It’s been nice to see the game become more popular among the fan base, especially with the re-releases on handheld. For this album I had the opportunity to arrange the tracks “Snowhead Temple” and “Final Hours.”

Often in my approach to arranging music, I will try to imagine what a particular artist would do with the melodic and harmonic material of a piece. “Snowhead Temple” has a very loose and improvised sound, so a jazz ensemble seemed like a good fit. One of my favorite avant-guard jazz albums is Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, and it became the primary inspiration for this arrangement. You can hear this most prominently in the opening and closing sections of my arrangement.

 

The track features two soloists from Materia Collective whose performances really helped bring the piece together. Sean Schafiansky performs on Soprano Saxophone and Ken Crouch did some wonderful work on Trumpet. This arrangement was wildly different from what I’m used to creating, but it was a lot of fun and I love how it turned out.

The track “Final Hours,” aka “Last Day,” was a more straight forward orchestral arrangement for me. The original track plays during the last five minutes of the game’s three day cycle. The first time I heard it in the game it caused me to stop and just absorb the atmosphere of the game in that moment, even with the clock ticking down to the end of the world. The original track is foreboding and eerie, so I wanted to create something that evoked that same experience from when I first played the game.

 

One of my fellow Materians Lauren Liebowitz performs a solo on Flute for the opening of the arrangement. While it’s a brief cameo, it provides an appropriately haunting introduction of the main melody. I also did some sound design for this track. Throughout the piece you can hear low rumbles of the moon coming closer, boulders crashing down, and a handful of other atmospheric effects. This is one of the more cinematic sounding arrangements that I’ve done and I’m glad I was able to create it for one of my favorite pieces from Majora’s Mask.

In addition to the above tracks mentioned, I contributed vocals to a number of other arrangements on this album. This includes Nautilus T Party’s rock cover of “Ikana Castle,” titled “Ikana’s Wrath;” Fredrik Häthen’s orchestral arrangement of “Calling the Four Giants,” titled “Termina’s Last Hope;” Laura Intravia’s orchestral reimagining of the final boss music called “The True Face;” and Garrett Steele’s short but sweet arrangement of the “Missed Event 2” track. Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a full Materia Collective collaborative album without an entry from Bonnie Bogovich’s Bwak Choir. I contributed the usual chicken vocals and played some kazoo in this goofy rendition of the “Min-Game” track, titled “Mini Bwakky Cheepy Game“.

FATE: A Tribute to Majora’s Mask was an absolute blast to work on. There’s tons of great arrangements and remixes on this album, so definitely give the entire album a listen. You can find FATE: Majora’s Mask Remixed on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Google Play.

LAUNCH: StarCraft Reimagined

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the original StarCraft game. To help celebrate, Materia Collective has released an arrangement album of music from the original soundtrack. The album is split into three EP’s, with each one representing a race from the game. The separate EP’s also focus on a set of genres to represent the different races. The Zerg album “RUSH” is all high energy electronic, rock, or EDM covers. Meanwhile, the Terran have a funk and disco themed EP titled “Funk Bunker.” Finally, the Protoss album centers on acoustic and ambient arrangements on the “Nylon Pylon” EP.

I don’t have a lot of experience playing the original StarCraft. I remember playing a few custom matches against friends at party’s back in the day, but it was never a game I really delved into. Upon listening to the soundtrack again, some of the tracks that drew me in came from the Protoss race. They are wonderful ambient tracks, with really cool shifts in tone. I ended up choosing to arrange “Protoss Two” for solo piano.

 

This ended up being an interesting challenge, since the piano needs some creative solutions for imitating the long-held chords and low drones of the original track. A big inspiration for my approach came from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” for solo piano. Particularly the “Old Castle” and “Great Gates” movements, which respectively feature quiet, atmospheric passages and large bombastic chordal passages. It was a fun arrangement to work on for the “Nylon Pylon” EP and i really enjoyed the creative challenge.

LAUNCH: StarCraft Reimagined has a lot of different styles and genres represented across the three EPs. There’s something for everyone who’s a fan of the original StarCraft soundtrack or just enjoys good music. You can check out the LAUNCH LP’s on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Google Play.

SPIRA: Music from Final Fantasy X

As has been a continuing tradition of Materia Collective, the group has released another arrangement album based around one of the Final Fantasy soundtracks. This time around the focus is on the music of Final Fantasy X, from composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Junya Nakano. This double album is titled SPIRA: Music from Final Fantasy X. The albums are organized as two mixes called Zanarkand Mix and Besaid Mix.

Like many of the previous Materia Collective releases, the albums consist of covers, remixes, and arrangements from a large group of artists and musicians. The Zanarkand Mix primarily features electronic, synth, and rock arrangements, while the Besaid Mix is mostly comprised of acoustic covers. There are a few exceptions to this rule, primarily to avoid too many iterations of the same theme showing up on either album. For this project I produced two arrangements and contributed my vocal talents to a number of other artists’ tracks.

 

The first track I took on for the project was “Besaid.” The original track and its remastered counterpart are both relaxing and tranquil pieces, so I decided to go in an ambient electronic direction with my arrangement. All of the instruments are either electronic in nature or are acoustic in origin with some type of processing applied. The wave sound effects that bookend the arrangement are from field recordings that I took last summer on the coast of Maine.

 

The second arrangement I produced was “Movement in Green.” The piece was a last minute entry from me, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to work on it. Despite the limited time, I think the track came out well and I accomplished what I was aiming for overall. The track takes heavy influence from the work of Joe Hisaishi, particularly his work on the film score to Spirited Away. Like many composers, I’m a huge fan of his music, so it was a fun challenge to emulate his style in this piece.

As I mentioned, I also contributed backing vocals to other artists’ tracks for this project. This included John Robert Matz’s two tracks “Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Spaghetti),” an arrangement done in the style of a spaghetti western score, and “Bemknesyka (The Trials),” a Red Army Choir-inspired version of “The Trials” sung in the Al Bhed language from the game.

I also participated in some backing vocals for Jordan Chin’s “This is Our Story” an arrangement of “This is Your Story.”

Last, but not least, I participated in a Bwak Choir arrangement by Bonnie Bogovich of “Bravely Forward” titled “Bravely Bwakking Forward.” The track features the largest ensemble for a Bwak Choir arrangement as of this writing.

The SPIRA: Music from Final Fantasy X albums Zanarkand Mix and Besaid Mix are available on multiple services including Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp. The albums boast a large range of styles from some very talented people. If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy X soundtrack definitely check these albums out.