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Rebellion: Inspired by the Music of Final Fantasy II

Final Fantasy II: Rebellion

Tracklist

Disc 1

01 Preluematsude (Prelude) 4:09
02 The Last March (The Imperial Army) 4:33
03 Rebirth (Revival) 3:16
04 Rebel Dream [Main Theme (FF1), The Rebel Army, Find Your Way (FF8), Main Theme] 6:07
05 Leon Is a Fucking Dick (Battle Theme 1) 4:05
06 garLACTUS Win [Victory, Fanfare (FF7)] 2:19
07 Deuces (Ancient Castle) 2:50
08 Firion N Maria (Will Take You to the Rebels) [The Rebel Army] 5:13
09 Analog Freedom (Town, The Rebel Army) 3:27
10 the final WON (Battle Theme A, Victory) 4:00
11 Rebellion (Dead Music, The Rebel Army) 4:31
Disc length 44:30
Disc 2

01 Heroes of Dawn [Chaos Temple (FF1), Reunion, The Rebel Army, Deep Under the Water (FF3), Dead Music (FF1)] 6:48
02 Snakeyes (Battle Theme B) 6:35
03 Grind My Crank (Tower of the Magi) 4:03
04 Personification of Evil (The Emperor's Rebirth, Escape!) 3:53
05 A Kingdom Fallen (Main Theme) 6:27
06 Torchlit (Dungeon) 5:38
07 GG but ___ Solos Win [Victory, The Winner (FF8)] 2:46
08 Castellum Infernum (Castle Pandemonium) 3:49
09 Imperial Rapture (Battle Theme 2) 6:14
10 Finally (Finale) 1:28
Disc length 47:41

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Notes

Final Fantasy II: Rebellion
Comments from album director Brandon Strader and ReMixers
Album freely available at http://rebellion.ocremix.org

A great album is the sum of its parts as much as any social movement or revolution is the culmination of efforts from brave individuals. The sheer amount of dedication that went into creating Rebellion will be difficult to properly appreciate; many of the involved artists worked on their music for months. Some of them worked on particular songs for over a year. At the end of this journey, it was the combined vision, talents, and dedication of each artist that created an album with its own personality. A smooth experience that seemingly has its own narrative, from one song to the next.

I'm eternally grateful to the artists that returned to work on Rebellion after the completion of the first album, Random Encounter. I am equally grateful to those who are making their first appearance, and those who have chosen to be on the final album covering Final Fantasy 3. Without your hard work and sacrifice, this album would not have been possible. To the fans -- I hope that listening to this album fills you with as much joy as it has given me these past several years.

Thank you for the rebellion, and may our random encounter continue to bring us liberation.

- Brandon Strader

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1-01. Jeff Ball - "Preluematsude"
Source: "Prelude"

Brandon Strader: Jeff, like the other artists involved, is top class both as a musician/composer and as a person. He went above and beyond with this interpretation of the classic "Prelude," providing a nice warm, electronic sound, with some soaring violin melodies later in the song. A true delight and great introduction to an album saturated with more diverse and dynamic compositions.

Jeff Ball: The "Prelude" itself is literally just an arpeggiated chord progression, since this was before Uematsu had put any melody with it. So, in this case, all you have to work with is a string of notes, which meant I had to use some creativity. I ended up taking the original arpeggio and mixing up the chords a bit, along with glitching the hell out of it. To this, I added some surrounding melodic material over some beats. Throw in some chord extensions, some live violins, then cook in the oven at 375° for 15 minutes, and you'll get something that sounds like an underwater cityscape. I kinda wanted the remix to be a gradual unfolding into the original chord progression, so you don't actually hear the full string of chords until the violins come in at 2:21, then the real heart of the piece happens at 3:00.

1-02. Dr. Manhattan - "The Last March"
Source: "The Imperial Army"

Brandon Strader: Dr. Manhattan is neither a doctor nor a city, but his methodical riffs apply metropolitan levels of creativity that may leave you needing medical attention. If he did have a medical degree, he'd have a Ph. Drop D. Alright, sorry. I honestly didn't expect this result when I asked him to cover the song. He went so far beyond anything I could have imagined, and produced a song that, in my mind, stands among the shredding greats of our time. Between the structure, the solos, and the attention to detail with the effects, you just have to hear this remix. Stop reading this and listen.

1-03. Brandon Strader - "Rebirth"
Source: "Revival"

Brandon Strader: "Rebirth" is pretty close to the kind of music I have been working towards making for a long time. It's kinda undefinable, IT'S NOT DUBSTEP STFU, with a lot of elements that are not dubstep. It's the kind of hybridization between electronic and organic instrumentation that I've been trying to achieve since the original version of "Celestial Entrance." It's possibly the brutalest metal I've ever forged and it shall be upon the Final Fantasy 2 album. The basilisk in FF2 is lizard-like, so it almost has Argonians, which is cool. It hadn't occurred to me until just now, but this might be a hipster remix.

1-04. BONKERS - "Rebel Dream"
Sources: "Main Theme" (FF1), "The Rebel Army," "Find Your Way" (FF8), "Main Theme"

Brandon Strader: Named after my mental state upon hearing his new remixes, BONKERS continues to amaze. I would take up begging as a full-time gig if it meant we could get new BONKERS remixes for FF3 -- but for now, I hope you feel as entitled and honored as I do to be able to experience the magnificence of "Rebel Dream" and "Analog Freedom." As for "Rebel Dream," it's a truly artistic take on the overworld theme that mingles in with "Find Your Way" from FF8. BONKERS' artistic choices and overall ability leave me in a depressed state of inadequacy.

BONKERS: I'll be shorter about this one. I have mixed feelings, to be completely honest. This song will probably be hit or miss for most people and you'll probably not be able to tell when listening to it that I worked harder on this than I have on anything else in my entire life. Through the worst depression of my life, trying to bring creativity from the depths of my body where it seemed there was none at all. (Seems pathetic to the idle observer maybe. I don't know...)

If you read my "Town" writeup, a lot of what happened there applies to this as well. But the vision was different from the beginning, from all the way back to 2011. Originally, I wanted to create something with epic four-part harmony choral vocals from section C (added section from PSX version) onward. And I wanted to use the same sound palette for consistency for the listeners who had heard Random Encounter. But as some time went on, I listened to Random Encounter and I was not impressed with myself due to some production choices (and performance) and that fuggin AWFUL lead Sync synth. But Random Encounter was a big breakthrough in general and I struggled with those as a huge learning process as well. So it's natural I wouldn't have thought of the things I do now, back then. And through this project, the struggle would multiple tenfold.

I struggled just finding ideas to start the song off. But then I had a moment of creative genius (IMO) when fiddling on the piano one day. I was creating my own harmonies for a piano/keyboard interpretation of FF1 main theme and something in my mind clicked. "HEY, this can be bridged to Rebel Army theme, I think!" And that ended up being the intro, a keyboard (mostly. The counter melody on the harp near the end is still playing FF1 parts ;) ) arranged seamless transition from FF1 to FF2. To the layman, maybe this intro will be awkward and not make any sense. But I still wanted some semblance of consistency from my FF1 songs to FF2. And I guess this was one way to do it.

But after that, another brick wall. Until I was talking to Brandon one day and he suggested something along the lines of mixing up "Find Your Way" from FF8 in there. And I had considered something like that before but dismissed it. But something made sense here and another click came. And that paved the way for the basic first section that would interweave "Find Your Way" with the world map theme from FF2J, and what would ultimately become something the song plays and relies on HEAVILY.

From that point, doing barebones work was fairly straightforward but a lengthy drawn-out process with many do-overs for probably 6+ months. But during this time, I knocked out a LOT of my sound design ideas for the song and my intention on the production. To be mixed and sound as if listened to from listener perspective in the audience of a concert hall while still having a middle ground between sounding good and entirely muffled. Please refer to my mixing diagram here for an easy picture of what I intended. (https://i.minus.com/iXfnPiUouTZl7.png) This rather than, say, from drummer perspective (where drums are full stereo width), whereas from listener perspective they are fairly narrow and go about 30% width, maybe.

As time went on and my ideas became more complex, this turned into a mixing nightmare. I struggled with this as much as I did on the songwriting. And I don't think it turned out quite the way I had envisioned. But alas, I suppose that's part of the process. You don't magically stop sucking. You suck a little less each successive time you try. So I'd imagine one or a few or even all of you probably will have major issue with my mix/master. So please feel free to criticize the CRAP out of me!

From a recording perspective, this was unbelievably terrible. I basically had to record every line one or two bars at a time and then stop to retune my bass or my guitar because I couldn't get the intonation very good for shit on a stick, or I'd have to change the open note tuning of a string to get a certain note a certain way because it sounded abysmal otherwise. Basically, this whole song is nothing but damn punch-in's. I spent months upon months upon months recording, re-recording, trying to get the best I could out of what I had. The only thing that wasn't punch-ins was the solo probably. Fortunately, I could get those all in one take basically.

Well, that's about all I can muster about this song at the time being (June 26th, 2013, age 22). I really just am lost about this song. I don't even know... sorry, guys, if I'm coming off all angsty and whatnot. I just can't stand not to do my absolute best, pushing myself as hard as I can to create something unique without disturbing much of the originals.

The song structure is definitely really fuckin' odd. Probably every section is unique in some way. Even if it repeats a previous section, it's redone in a different way. And I think this will probably and ultimately backfire and create an unpleasant listening experience. I don't think you could even classify this song as prog, or metal, or whatever. I really am just that damn clueless about this song. And I think it will have to be the last time I ever do something this stupid that goes against everything ingrained in modern culture about repetition in music. Or music at all in any period of history. I will try to do better in the future... if I can get my creative mojo back once I get my life on track where it needs to be if I want to have any future in audio or a future at all. *sigh* (Sorry again. :| )

Anywho, I better stop while I can. I hope someone can enjoy this song in some way. I don't expect it to be popular or liked by many. But what can I say... guess I march to the beat of my own drummer sometimes.

(July 21st, 2013) I made some revisions to this song that I feel are a vast improvement (after having a few weeks break after finishing it initially) that comes closer to my vision described my original submission comments. (Despite the depressed tone of said comments. It's been a long road.)

1-05. Kidd Cabbage - "Leon Is a Fucking Dick"
Source: "Battle Theme 1"

Kidd Cabbage: Hi. My name is Jon. I like heavy metal, making heavy metal, and swear words. Sometimes, I mix all three of these. Sometimes, I tune my guitar down to drop X and chug around. Other times, I make weedlies and put them on top of the chugs. Usually, there are more chugs than weedlies, though. The guitar's all gug-gug-gug and the drums are like wham pam pa pow! And then the guitar is like a lot!

Strader was all "You want to make a track for this FF2 project," and I'm all "lol ya." Then I plugged in my guitar, tuned it down to the sound of my fart, and slapped around on it for a while. Don't share my production secrets.

I'm fairly certain this song has a bass guitar, too.

1-06. Darkmoocher - "garLACTUS Win"
Sources: "Victory," "Fanfare" (FF7)

1-07. mellogear - "Deuces"
Source: "Ancient Castle"

1-08. PrototypeRaptor - "Firion N Maria (Will Take You to the Rebels)"
Source: "The Rebel Army"

1-09. BONKERS - "Analog Freedom"
Sources: "Town," "The Rebel Army"

BONKERS: I honestly have to say it's been a journey working on the FF2 project. The last year and a half of my life has solely depended basically upon nothing else but working on these two songs.

It's been so long that I don't even remember when I decided to take on the beautiful town theme. It's just THAT blurred together. All I can remember from back then was thinking "What the hell am I going to do with this song?" I had an initial idea to approach it a la "Roaming... Please Wait" with the intro, but change the song into 3/4. This was back when my initial approach to FF2 was to have consistency with the sound set I crafted for Random Encounter so people would recognize that certain sound of my Random Encounter tracks. I had to get a little creative with the melody to make it feel right in 3/4.

So a little time goes by and I realize that the soundset I made for FF1 SUCKED. HARD. The lead synth choice alone was enough to just say "You know what, screw this crap. My ears want to die. Why, WHY did I choose to use a sync'd Prophet V-type lead?!"

Further time passes, and I ponder, and I ponder. "What can I do that will do the town theme justice? That doesn't destroy the feeling of the original too much?" Straight rock wouldn't work, it'd be too contrasting. Metal is entirely out of the question. 3/4 original concept is outlandish. Eventually, I have an eye-opener. Analog warmth. This one phrase caused an explosion of ideas. I wanted to do this sounding analog, and warm with many retro elements from eras all across the last 50 years, including almost a full NES channel set in there. (Pulse 1 & 2, triangle -- though triangle is processed a lot for other reasons.)

So I had my spark. I started creating new effects chains, researched synthesizers, effects (gated plate verb kick/toms, for example), tape saturation, noise, and sounds of all kinds to try and recreate within my limited digital domain. I created new instrument combinations. New instruments. One effect in particular of the 80's that I just absolutely adore and had to find a way to recreate it was what I call "80's Shimmer Guitar." And it's exactly as it sounds. The best example of this effect that I can think of is the 2nd OP to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. My creation isn't entirely faithful or the same (it's missing some parts to it), but it was good enough and it was the best I could do.

Song structure-wise, around that time I recalled I had done some analysis on the 90's synth rock ballad version of "Requiem of a Nameless Soul" on the Dracula Battle albums a few years prior. And I thought that that was a brilliant place to start structurally and almost exactly fit a lot of the ideas I had for "Town." And I thought that the intro would mesh well with my intentions. Instead of the song being silent for a measure before the melody kicks in, that measure is used as a pick-up measure for "Town's" melody. And so that's where I started. (Although the actual melodies for "Analog Freedom" would actually be the VERY last part of the music to be recorded. But I'm getting to that.)

Continuing on song structure, the last few years have been a real hard battle and lesson with repetition and perspective in relation to both the listener and creator. I spend so many countless hours both working on songs and even just thinking about them and brainstorming hoping for inspiration, that I lose perspective on the overall song and it makes me want to make every section completely different. I lose perspective. Not only for me, but for the listener. The listener only hears the finished product. I hear the same single section a hundred times or more probably by the time I'm done arranging just that one section. So I'm already repetitive'd out. And I've never stopped to think about it and song flow in relation.

This is the first step in reaching my middle ground between creativity and repetition. (Unlike "Rebel Dream," which is completely the opposite and my swan song to progressive rock style'd song structure.) From now on, I hope to make most of my songs this way. Though exceptions will be had depending on what the source calls for.

Time went along and I had more and more ideas, and I refined my instrumental palette more and more. And music started flowing out and out. For the first half of the song, I wrote 100% completely original accompanying lines and counter-melodies of music and did not use any of the original from either Tsuyoshi Sekito's version or Uematsu's Famicom original. But at the same time, I created intentional similarities in rhythm and used similar harmonies in order to retain the feeling of the source. Though that's not to say I completely ignored them. By the time the solo comes around, both Uematsu's original NES pulse wave counter-melody and Sekito's acoustic guitar lines are played at the same time (even though, IIRC, some of the chord tones are not 100% the same). Uematsu's on a NES pulse wave + honky-tonk heavy-chorused piano and organ. And Sekito's on pulse wave + 80's shimmer guitar + heavily-chorused and tremolo'd warm electric guitar.

When those are all going on, this is one of the few times the two NES pulse waves and the triangle are all playing together at the same time. The song builds and builds, and then it takes a small break (and this is where the original counter-melodies/accompanying lines end) to a soft Mellotron both referencing and inspired by "Strawberry Fields" to gain a moment's rest before blasting into the ending.

Happily and solemnly connecting to that moment to remind you that you are in the town of the Rebel Army. And that these two songs are forever linked in your experiences in the game. As you first hear the two together at the start of the game, you end up at the Rebel Army headquarters and then venture out into the solemn yet upbeat town.

I did not do any analysis or research on the "Rebel Army" theme's original counter-melody or chord structure/progression. Instead, I took the melody and I created my own counter-melody and progression to it to give the feeling I desired. I am SUPER happy with the result. In fact, this small clip is my favorite part of the song! XD

OK, so it's mid-last year. And I'm exactly up to the point arrangement-wise thus told. But there is still no melody. This is where things come to a standstill. I was at a loss. Nothing I did seemed to fit or would work well with my intentions. So I stopped and went back to working on "Rebel Dream" for a while. Months go by, and every moment of every day I am constantly thinking of both of these songs and what is missing and what I need to do to keep on refining them and perfecting them as much as I can. And then it takes a turn for the worse. Depression. I was jobless and was feeling immense pressure (from myself) to do these songs as perfect as I could. To try and reach my vision in my mind's eye that would do the source justice. I lost all motivation, all desire. Yet perish the thought my mind could not. For about 4 months, from Sept. to the end of January, my day consisted of getting up, doing my Dailies (daily household tasks), eating breakfast, watching The Young and the Restless/other daily shows, and then spending ~12 hours sitting in front of my computer doing basically nothing but trying to come up with ideas and the motivation to complete these songs right. I did not even play games. At this point (May 22nd, 2013), I haven't played a single-player game since August of last year. No, I didn't deserve fun (depression talking). I didn't deserve anything until I could finish these songs. This was nothing but months of pure mental anguish and torture. And until recently (as many of my friends and acquaintances will tell you), I still haven't been in a good place mentally.

But somehow, in February, I managed to find that last spark of inspiration for "Analog Freedom" that I needed (while still depressed, basically). I thought it'd be a GREAT idea to use the 80's shimmer guitar again for the 1st section of "Town's" melody. And it turned out to be just BEAUTIFUL. Amazingly beautiful. From there, I figured that I might as well experiment with some distorted leads for the rest of the song after the drums kick in. And, amazingly enough, I crafted something that fit in with the other warm instruments and guitars in those sections. A few weeks later and 100% of the music was officially in.

I stopped to give my ears a rest and worked on "Rebel Dream" some more. Then I came back and spent more weeks refining the mix more and more. Trying to perfect it as much as I could.

The bass is a bit rounded and not super-heavy in the low end (but is in the sub range). This is intentional to try and be somewhat in line with a lot of music prior to the 90's. I had to concede and open up the high end a bit more than I originally intended to in order to create definition and not muddy up the imaging/instrumentation of the song.

For mastering, I decided to learn Mid/Side mixing, decoding and recording information. And this is where I probably made the most concessions... I had no idea whether M/S mastering was prevalent in the 90's and prior. And I made the song somewhat loud, so it wouldn't be an inconsistency within the album and not a discrepancy within modern music. (My copy of "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey is quite quiet by modern standards). But I did use analog modeled effects processors on the Mid and Side channels in trying to maintain my vision.

I think the song turned out really well for what limitations I had to work in. And, for once, I am truly proud of what I accomplished. Being able to accomplish 90% of what my vision was. Brandon and everyone on the team, as well as my friends and family, have been very supportive the whole time. And I'm incredibly thankful for that. It feels so good to finally feel like this weight is lifted off my figurative shoulders.

I sincerely hope from the bottom of my heart that many people (joojs included) can hopefully enjoy this song and perhaps feel the intention of my vision when listening.

I probably missed some stuff here and there... it's been a long year and a half. But if I go on any longer, you guys will probably roll your eyes and think "When will he shut up?!"

1-10. W!SE the all.E - "the final WON"
Sources: "Battle Theme A" (Dawn of Souls), "Victory"

Brandon Strader: The man, the myth, the one-who-cannot-be-named, I'll just call him Jordan. He truly is the Voldemort of music, but he's also the Harry Potter; two halfs of the same soul that produce some truly amazing remix-based horcruxes. That is to say, he puts a small portion of his soul into every remix, and you can tell. Give this one two listens, three, keep going until you can finally understand the complexity of this mix. Then do what I did and weep at your own inadequacy. Then weep some more from the beauty of this song.

W!SE the all.E: Hey, Sir J here. AKA W!SE the all.E, AKA The Realest Green Lantern, AKA Heir to the Bill Gates Dynasty, AKA a bunch of other names.

This track is admittedly a Katamari-clusterfuck-flavored jambalaya mixing of many ideas. To explain it as simply as possible without going into my usual long-winded novels, on Brandon Strader's FF1 album, Random Encounter, I made an arrangement of the "Victory" fanfare entitled "Epic Win" in which I did some kind of barbershop dubstep quartet/wannabe-Tim Exile kind of thing thinking it was revolutionary and innovative and hot shit and all that jazz. I know I'm usually my harshest critic, but, truthfully speaking, after the album went live I realized I had made a terrible mistake because that remix just sounded... embarrassingly cheesy and lame and anything but "Epic." XD

So, I PM'd Professor Strader asking him to let me hold on to the "Victory" fanfare source tune for the rest of the album series in order for me to avenge myself and make amends for that lackluster remix, so to speak. The "Victory" fanfare is a notably simple source with only a few variations with each FF title, but Brandon gave me ample wiggle room and creative freedom to run the train off the rails and into any dimensions that I wanted.

Therefore, I essentially cranked out "Victory" ReMix after ReMix, seeing how far I could take the source. I love the final order that the album is in, but ideally for anyone interested in trying to make sense from my perspective, I've deliberately arranged the different "WINs" to kind of go in some kind of "Sir J canon" order with the hopes that *this* particular arrangement would be the conclusion (hence the title, "the final WON.")

((**Spoiler Alert: I ended up recording a few more arrangements after this one which may or may not appear on a future FF album. ;P))

So "the final WON" is obviously grandiose and incredibly over-the-top because it is a nod to the previous genre variations I traversed through. Something along these lines is what my head-canon producer process was like:

1. "Epic Win" (what started it all)
2. "garLACTUS Win"
3. "GG but ____ Solos Win"
4. **SPOILER possible-future track**
5. **SPOILER possible-future track**
6. "the final WON"

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I do like how Brandon chose to use these particular WINs for this album and save the others possibly for the future one since they're kind of like an "epilogue" to my WIN series, so WIN #4 and #5 can be enjoyed as a babies-ever-after kind of thing, I guess.

TL;DR
-Suffered creator backlash/old shame from my first "Victory" fanfare arrangement, "Epic WIN"
-Decided to make several more new versions in an attempt to "avenge/redeem" myself
-Imagined and created this version, "the final WON," as a closer for the whole shebang

1-11. Brandon Strader, Chernabogue, Detective Tuesday - "Rebellion"
Sources: "Dead Music," "The Rebel Army"

Brandon Strader: Since Chernabogue originally made 2 attempts at the structure for this, I shall open up with his comments first: "This mix was first started a long time ago, when the FF2 project started recruiting in 2012. My first attempt to remix this track was a brutal metal mix. But later, Brandon suggested to change it, as it wouldn't fit the theme. So I wrote another arrangement, more acoustic/dramatic-oriented in a very short amount of time. Brandon decided to take ideas from both arrangements to create the final mix.

I contributed by writing a short prayer in Latin and doing some background vocals. In the end, I really love the final mix, and am proud to be part of such a cool album. See you all in FF3...!"

I am very appreciative to Chernabogue and the lot of work he put in. And I apologize to him for asking for more and more, and then ultimately changing the song completely. :P It was much more of a change than "Requiem for a Dying World," which was basically me slowing it down by 50% and switching between Mellotrons and orchestral strings like a crazy person. Ultimately, I am hoping that this mix will strike you as much less divisive, as it is quite enjoyable.

That's not to discredit the lot of work Chernabogue put into this of course, as the final structure is very much inspired by Chernabogue's structure of his second attempt. He originally wanted to end with FF1's "Dead Music," but for this mix I chose to go with the Rebel Army theme because it felt much more natural, and contextually it was PERFECT. And I like the fact that the album features "Rebel Army" as: solo piano, electronica, acoustic, metal, and... that thing BONKERS did... :P Very important motif.

Chernabogue said his choir vocals were sort of church-styled(?), so I tried to expand on that with a little reverb to really bring out the cathedral sound to them. :P I love it. I love that this is also the first overtly Christian mix I was able to make for the site with his help.

I am calling this "Rebellion" because this song really expresses my feelings of what the album and the concept of "Rebellion" means to me. That's why it starts with "Dead Music" and ends with "Rebel Army." Though we may lose loved ones and randomly encounter many unfortunate events, in the end we must remain strong and have the resolve to carry on. Chernabogue's Latin prayer is the ribbon that ties up the mix perfectly.

Tuesday, a.k.a. Detective Tuesday, a.k.a. Anton, brought a really incredible sax solo for the song. It's so much more complex and jazzy than I could have imagined, but I knew what the man was capable of after hearing him jam at MAGFest 12. When pressed for a statement, this is all he had to say: "Brandon made me do it."

I picked this to be the final album post, and named it after the album, because in my mind it represents the message I wanted to put across with this album. The structure follows a conceptual rise and fall that many people today can relate to. It begins with the theme when the party is incapacitated, and ends with the Rebel Army theme such as to imply that, despite some loss or defeat, the rebellion will not be swayed. The world today is in turmoil just like that world of Final Fantasy 2. Chernabogue and Detective Tuesday did incredible work on this song arranging and writing their respective parts (lyrics, vocals, sax solo) and made the song what it is. They gave it the spark of identity that made it a true song rather than just an idea, just as all the artists brought that spark of life to this album. Thank you, all.

2-01. PacificPoem - "Heroes of Dawn"
Sources: "Chaos Temple" (FF1), "Reunion," "The Rebel Army," "Deep Under the Water" (FF3), "Dead Music" (FF1)

Brandon Strader: PacificPoem is a kind gentleman I found on YouTube who had done a live performance on the piano of various Final Fantasy themes. I contacted him with a similar request and didn't ask him to limit himself to FF2 only. I wanted something that felt inclusive to all THREE (yes, 3) albums, and felt like somewhat of a summarization of what all 3 of them represent. PacificPoem knocked it out of the park, bringing this intimate piano performance. It is dynamic, and played passionately and expertly; each note fits into the performance. Nothing juts out or seems unnatural. This is just a very refined and skillfully performed piece, and I am very thankful to PacificPoem for escaping YouTube momentarily to take a chance on OCR and this album!

PacificPoem: Here's a piano medley. I actually like these arrangements quite a lot and, for once, I've done proper transitions between the songs.

2-02. zykO - "Snakeyes"
Source: "Battle Theme B" (Dawn of Souls)

2-03. XPRTNovice - "Grind My Crank"
Source: "Tower of the Magi"

XPRTNovice: You seriously don't want to hear the first time I tried to mix this. Brandon wanted me to do this, and I thought, "Cool, I'll try my hand at something prog-metal-ish."

It was ass. I spent 8 months creating an utter failure, then promptly threw it away and accomplished this mix in less than 24 hours. Many thanks to Brandon for mastering.

Warning: Guitar, clarinet, and drunken yelling are live recorded in my basement, where both of these things go together.

2-04. Tuberz McGee - "Personification of Evil"
Sources: "The Emperor's Rebirth," "Escape!"

2-05. Sixto Sounds - "A Kingdom Fallen"
Source: "Main Theme"

Sixto Sounds: this is just a last minute addition to the ff2 project. i had the idea for this remix a few years ago and then i kind of forgot about it. found it recently and shared it with a few people when brandon asked me to finish it for his project. this really isn't the kind of remix i typically make, but i have some really fun new sounds courtesy of the chipsounds vst and the refx nexus 2 sid expansion as well as the electronic library for superior 2. i plan on learning these tools and using them more often to change things up a little. you are witnesses at the new birth of sixto sounds mk ii. hope you enjoy my new direction.

2-06. Viking Guitar - "Torchlit"
Source: "Dungeon"

2-07. Sir Jordanius feat. Brandon Strader - "GG but ___ Solos Win"
Sources: "Victory," "The Winner (FF8)"

2-08. Brandon Strader - "Castellum Infernum"
Source: "Castle Pandemonium"

Brandon Strader: It's my first submission of the year 2012 and starting strong, I think. Even after sitting for a few months like it has, and many more months if it passes, the song has had its production tweaked often and to a very fine state that I'm very satisfied with! The intro is loosely inspired both by Knight of the Round and M-H's songs for the Final Fantasy 1 album, Random Encounter. The rest are various forms of gratuitous metal, ending with a cool Celtic bit in 6/4. I would map out the source usage, but I think it can be heard clearly throughout. Even when the rhythm is completely original, such as the metalcore breakdown at 1:40, the source is still totally apparent in the lead guitars and orchestra. The solo section at 2:07 even works in the source a little bit. I would say it stays in a fairly conservative area, but with adequate amounts of personalization. Oh, wait, did I say the metalcore breakdown was completely original? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA... Sorry.

So, the guitars were re-amped with the mic aiming pretty close to the center of the cup, which gave the guitars a brootal crispy tone. I had plenty of chances to redo the re-amping to give the tone more of a low-end type of sound, but ultimately decided against doing that. I think the crispier bite of the guitar tone is awesome and it might even leave some apparent space for the orchestration the way it is. The song is what pure fun sounds like, when you just let loose and make something the way you want it and envision it, and it comes out better than expected... I'm very happy with this mix and I hope you enjoy it as well! Oh, and THE ALBUM! YES, THE FINAL FANTASY 2 ALBUM! It is amazing, go download it. :P

2-09. IanFitC - "Imperial Rapture"
Source: "Battle Theme 2"

IanFitC: Source Log (22/8/12)

0:00-0:17 - Intro: Drum intro, pattern from section A
0:17-0:47 - Section A: Main theme on lead guitar (bell + bowl accompaniment). Variation on source theme A (0:13-0:35). Rhythm guitars: Reduction on main theme, focusing on the D/Eb relationship in the first notes of the theme.
0:47-1:33 - Section A2: Secondary variation on source theme A (0:13-0:35)
1:33-1:40 - Interlude A: Chords and structure taken from the second half of the intro in the source (0:07-0:13)
1:40-2:06 - Section A3: More faithful rendition of source theme A (0:13-0:35)
2:06-2:21 - Section B: Chords and melody from source theme B (0:35-0:48)
2:21-2:36 - Interlude B: Variation on interlude B from source (0:49-1:01). The chromatic melodies are split between warped strings (descending), xylophone (descending), and harpsichord (ascending).
2:36-2:44 - Section C: Relatively faithful representation of source theme C (1:01-1:08)
2:44-2:59 - Interlude B2: Second variation on interlude B from source (0:49-1:01), now reduced to strings only
2:59-3:34 - Section D: This section is a heavily altered variation of the intro of the source (0:00-0:13)
Rhythm guitars: Playing a reduced version of the chromatically ascending chords from 0:00 to 0:07 in the source
Horns and strings: Variation of the ascending (0:00-0:07) and descending (0:07-0:13) chromatic themes, rhythmically altered to suit the 9/4 time signature
Piano (1st half), choir/celesta (2nd half): Focusing solely on the descending melody (0:07-0:13), including the rhythmic augmentation from the original
Synth arpeggios: Using the same chords from the original string arpeggios, but tailored for the arrangement's time signature
3:34-4:08 - Section A4: As with the other section A's in the arrangement, this focuses on source theme A (0:13-0:35), again emphasising the D/Eb relationship in the chords
4:08-5:08 - Section A: Reprise of section A, now with the inclusion of more melody lines. These melody lines are taken from source theme A's chromatic ascending/descending section, notably 0:16-0:17, however extended to allow it to become a melody. These are heard in the Mellotron strings.
5:08-6:08 - Section A5: Essentially a musical reprise of section A, however, the rhythms have been changed to raise the tension towards the anti-climax at the end of this arrangement. The secondary melody has now been joined by a lead guitar. A further guitar is playing a variation on the descending motif from the end of the intro of the source (0:07-0:13), however, it is extended to fall further down the scale.

This track is a culmination of a huge melting pot of influences. Because it appears on a predominantly metal album, I wanted a sludgy and powerful vibe akin to Alice in Chains and Gojira, but with the production sensibilities of someone like Dimmu Borgir or Devin Townsend and a little of Finntroll/Moonsorrow's arranging flair.

I also wanted to explore and develop the source to see if I could take it to some weird places, initially notating themes and chord patterns to look at the relationships and arcs within melodies. This is almost a response to the verbatim metal mixes that crop up all over the place. As such, I've treated the themes in a similar context as to which a classical arranger might, but fitting it into a heavy metal context. To this extent, I have focused on a theme in the source moreso than others, purely because of the relationship between the first few notes really opened up loads of possibilities for me in this mix, with regards to brewing a stormy disposition and creating almost a mantric tension. I also wanted to explore using some different time signatures in this piece to see if I could create a constant flow that didn't present itself as disjointed or fractured.

I realise that I might have taken too many liberties with my developments of the source material, and I made a point to add some more recognisable parts to combat this, allowing each theme and section in the source to make an appearance in the piece. I often doubled important themes and gestures with synths and orchestral instruments in an attempt to bring them to prominence.

I really enjoyed working on this mix. It allowed me to work in some areas I don't normally get the chance to in my band, and to try out some things I would normally discount. With help from Brandon and BONKERS, I managed to clear up a lot of gloop that was really holding this mix back initially, and ultimately learned a lot about EQ balances between instruments.

At the very least, I hope you enjoy it!

2-10. Hat - "Finally"
Source: "Finale"