Be Aggressive!: A Gunstar Heroes Tribute Album | OC ReMix
 

(Alexandre Mourey)

"The Dark Empire Rises"
Sources: Story Demo / Stage Clear

I was intrigued by a new project that was actively recruiting one year ago. I eventually jumped in before it became official, and chose the "Intro" theme. It was summer, and I was only listening to Hans Zimmer's music, especially from The Dark Knight Rises (hence the title of my mix).

It inspired me to make an action-movie-like arrangement of this intro, with heavy percussion and bombastic orchestra. The little jingle at the end is the "Victory Fanfare" from the game, and as I love to see how VG jingles can sound with an orchestra, I had to add it there!

Introducing the album, the track had to give a warning to listeners: You're going on an adventure, you must fight evil guys and it's going to be awesome. The Dark Empire Rises, so Be Aggressive!!

(Dustin Branscum)

"And Heroes Emerge"
Source: Opening

As this album was wrapping up, Dj Mokram and I had touched briefly on the track lineup. After a few listens to the WIPs and finished tracks, I decided that the best way to place them would be largely what order most players heard the sources in the game, and listening through the tracks this way gave this feeling that you were playing through the game and experiencing the story as the album went along.

Playing on that idea, I started my remix of "Choose a Path," incorporating the compositionally-similar "Legend of the Gunstars" as a sort of "title screen" for the album. With that "title screen" concept in mind, I touched only slightly on the source, leaving the bigger remix of "Legend of the Gunstars" to Tuberz McGee.

(Dustin Branscum)

"Loadout"
Source: Stage Select

Continuing on the "gameplay" concept, I wrote this remix to embody the player moving through several menus and screens before actually getting into the actual shooter gameplay, which begins with CJthemusicdude's take on "Military on the Max-Power."

The beginning of the track, for the first minute or so, represents the player choosing a character, and deciding his loadout. The beat drops away to a sort of "spacey" take on the source, designed to be the player viewing a zoomed-out G-9 with the moons circling the planet, deciding where to embark. The music picks back up as Professor White briefs the player on the chosen mission, with the outro being the departure of the player to the moon to fight the forces of the Empire and recover the Treasure Gem.

(Christopher J. Cunningham)

"Lightning Chaser"
Source: 1 Stage

Gunstar Heroes is/was one of my favorite games. The frantic action and explosions are thrown at you immediately at the start of Ancient Ruins, where this theme is played. "Be Aggressive" preludes this level and the theme that follows is nothing short of action-packed excitement. I tried to capture that experience as best I could, since it's of my favorite tunes from this treasure of a game.

(Michael Isel)

"Technology's Spiritless Puppet"
Source: 1 Stage Middle Boss

With every track I've done on this project, I wanted to relate everything to the game, but at the same time add some further detail to the storyline and the characters involved. With this mix, I wanted to relate it as much as possible to the actual battle with Bravoo Man in Gunstar Heroes, especially when it's a first timer. But I also wanted to expound on the character of Bravoo Man. The first thing I noticed about the original source is that it has this very old horror soundtrack sound, and a very drone like feel. Not many tonal changes in the bassline of things, as its mostly D hammering away in the bass. The track title, "Technology's Spiritless Puppet," is basically a stab at the fact that Bravoo Man doesn't fight with any spirit or soul in him. The mix title also is a bit of a reflection on today's society relying so heavily on technology that we are becoming slaves to it, quite literally as in addiction. Sound-wise, I took more of an industrial approach without going too over the top with the distortion, though there is a good bit of it. The ending of the track was tailored like the fight against Bravoo Man -- it just ends unexpectedly. Enjoy, all.

(Pete Lepley)

"Proggy Roadboy"
Source: 1 Stage Boss

Third time's the charm, right? I had two previous starts on this track, and the more I sat on the source, the bigger problems I had remixing it. I had a brain blast at work for a progressive take, so I ran with it. Took forever to get it finished up, kept saying I'd get it done and then didn't... but I snuck in right before the cutoff date, and the end product is kinda cool, so I'm glad I stuck it out.

(Nathan Becker)

"Boiling Point"
Source: 3 Stage

After listening to the original tune several times and deciding that the composer was clearly having fun with it, just going nuts and doing whatever came to mind, I thought I'd take the same approach!

As always, I worked a little bit of chippiness into the mix while maintaining an overall modern soundscape. I really like the diverse blend of sounds I put together here, and I think it does the frenetic, ADD nature of the source and the whole soundtrack the justice it deserves.

(Michael Isel)

"Pursued by the Subordinate of Ignorant Sin"
Source: 5 Stage Boss

With this Smash Daisaku theme remix, I wanted to bring a feel of persistence, a drive. This character is constantly pursuing you in the game over a cause that he himself doesn't quite understand. So my goal was to put much hope, emotion, conviction, and feel into the song. The song has 2 different sections: one is in 4/4 showing more of his persistent nature, and then at 2:53 it switches to 6/8 giving more of a familiar ground resemblance to the original source, and more into his character personally. The title for this being "Pursued by the Subordinate of Ignorant Sin" was inspired by how devoted to the cause Smash Daisaku was and to his leader, Dr. Grey. But also how blind they both were to the reality of Golden Silver. As far as the sound of the mix goes, I went with something more towards the electronic side rhythm-wise, but everything else was tailored after rock. The only exceptions are the intro, which is more jazz and electronic, and the section around 1:27 with strings, pads, and bells which is a variation on the second half of the source. Enjoy.
"Till Cornerstones Remain"
Source: 3 Stage Boss

The passion and enthusiasm of the project directors drew me to this project. I think the greatest challenge for me was taking an already aggressive source tune, and attempting to create a remix of it within the "aggressive style" guidelines. My goal was to transform it and create something that was my own. Early on after I received some feedback, I started getting ideas on incorporating time signature changes, so I had fun with that.

I'm grateful to Dj Mokram and DusK for the helpful feedback and the opportunity, it was fun!

(Stephen Malcolm-Howell)

"Rolling Gun Changer"
Source: 2 Stage

Gunstar Heroes is definitely one of my favourite games from the Mega Drive. The replayability value made it very addictive -- there was so much choice in that game, something quite ahead of its time. The sound design, the animation and the soundtrack make it very memorable -- whole days were wasted playing this game.

The "Rolling Chaser" track is used a few times in the game. I remember during the board game stage being transported to this room with a wobbling amoeba in it -- it seemed to be wobbling in time with the track.

I've covered this track once before (more than a decade ago!) and so I had a second opportunity to interpret it. I wanted to make this remix energetic, but I also wanted it to have a slight quirkiness to it, as well as a touch of abrasiveness.

(Dustin Branscum)

"Be Aggressive!"
Source: 2 Stage Boss

"Theme of Seven Force" was by far the most pulse-pounding, energetic track of Gunstar Heroes' soundtrack. Being an album director, I was put into the advantageous situation of being able to hear all of the other remixes, and ensure that my remix of "Theme of Seven Force" followed suit. I feel I achieved that in the end. With a nice, fast tempo, extremely aggressive guitar work, and synths that really build and add to energy throughout, I created a track that doesn't let up for even a second, an embodiment of the album's original vision.
"Be Attitude for Continues"
Source: Continue

I remember picking this game up from a Kmart back in the day, having found it on their rack where they sold some used Genesis titles. Decided to buy it since it was pretty cheap, and loved it. Years later, imagine my surprise when I was asked to join this project, only to have to step down because of a project guidelines issue, and then get asked to come back a little while after I thought my musical involvement was over with. Bit of a wild roller coaster ride, not unlike the game I was remixing.

The source tune I chose is a very short loop outside of its intro, which really didn't leave a lot to work with since it doesn't really build up to anything. But, I gave it a whirl, choosing to go with a more retro "80s anime ending theme" kind of sound, along with a quickened tempo, while trying to keep the song from repeating too much. I think the end result turned out pretty good, and hopefully listeners will enjoy it.

(Paul Ford)

"Guns to the Stars"
Source: 6 Stage

Gunstar Heroes is an amazing game with amazing music. Seriously. It doesn't get much better than this for the Genesis. I never owned this game back in the day because I was on the SNES side of the war, but I remember playing it for the first time in the video game room of the Innoventions attraction at Epcot -- come to think of it, playing Gunstar Heroes there is one of the most specific memories I have of that place!

This mix represents a big step forward for me. This is the type of source material that I usually would never attempt to remix -- when you like something so much that you don't really want to mess with it? Yeah... I happened to stumble into the project thread when "Good Night, Baby!" was the last track left. I wondered if I could really do a good job on it, but something told me to just go for it and see what happens. The result is what I consider the best track I've done to date. I really just wanted to channel that epic feel that the original gives... it really tells a story in my ears, and I did my best to elaborate on that with my own style while maintaining the magic.

And a special thanks to Mokram and DusK, for putting this album together. It's long overdue, and I'm glad I got to be a part of it!

(Jacob Diaz)

"Lunar Ecstacy"
Source: Option

I made this track in FL Studio 10. Lots of effects were used and I think it came out quite well. I was going for an aggressive vibe, but what came out instead was something smooth and groovy, with an extended arrangement at the end of the tune. I hadn't ever played the game before, so my knowledge of what the game was about was very little. That aspect, I guess, allowed me to really approach this song from an unusual angle. Hope you guys enjoy. :D
"Square Zero"
Source: 4 Stage

I had given Gunstar Heroess a spin some decade ago, but really got to know the greatness of its soundtrack via following the Be Aggressive! project. Such excellent music, such an excellent project concept… and what a kick-ass preview! "Dice-Dance-Days," a superb track among many superb tracks, was left unclaimed for the longest time and I decided something should be done.

Likely inspired after collabing with Twobeers McKeg on the Shell Shocked album, the finished track is full of guitar. I'm a crappy player, so it's (almost) all recorded in bits and pieces, and edited together like a musical Frankenstein's monster. A huge learning experience for me.

The arrangement largely follows the excellent original. The structure is pretty much the original ABCDE, looped twice and a longer stretch of the A part in the middle. Even the drumming and the bassline are pretty directly transcribed from the original during the first half. Most of the parts from the source are used in the arrangement, but their balance is different from the original. There is also plenty of new material (especially on guitar).

A big thanks to Rondo and Pleiade for borrowing me essential gear for recording. Thanks to Henna, on whose acoustic I came up with a part or two. Thanks to Pirjo and Pihla, who may have played some of the guitar noises in the beginning. Most of all thanks to Dj Mokram and DusK for excellent feedback and steering during the process, raising awareness of a brilliant soundtrack and running a tight project overall.

That's all. Cheers!

(Truong-Son Nguyen)

"Challenge Accepted!"
Source: 4 Stage Boss

Probably one of the most fun ReMixes I've ever had the pleasure of working on. There's some incredibly complex processing going on here, especially on many of the basses. This is also the first song on which I've tried granular synthesis (the intro bass).

Stereo separation played a huge role in making this work. It wasn't until a few months ago that I learned how to shift a sound to the back of the listener's head (when wearing headphones), which helped quite a bit at the climax. I wonder how well that translates to speakers... :P

(Dustin Branscum)

"Bullet Hell"
Source: 5 Stage

When Dj Mokram unfortunately had to drop this track, I knew that it needed to be done the kind of justice that only he could have done it. Knowing full well I couldn't do that myself, I picked it up anyway. Dj Mokram's vision for the track involved orchestral elements meshing with futuristic-sounding synths, and I tried to bring a bit of that into my track along with a steady rock sound.

I really feel like I did a good job on this one. I was heavily inspired by Mass Effect's music (especially that part between 2:20 and 2:58), and I really tried to bring some of that 80s/90s sci-fi aesthetic into the track using carefully-placed and modulated yet often vanilla-sounding synths. As far as the metal instrumentation, I tried to give it a sort of 80s hair metal feel, but with a modern metalcore twist, a lot like Blessed By A Broken Heart.

Enjoy. :)

(Mike Birch)

"Irresolution"
Source: Ending

As with most remixes I've done in relation to OCR, I've never played the game. However, when Dj Mokram approached me about contributing towards the project, I agreed, having created a track for a previous album project of his, the Dynamite Headdy album. However, just as with the last project, I promptly put everything off until the very last minute, at which point I discovered that free time is a thing of the past for me and I could only turn in something short. Nevertheless, here we are! I wanted to give the source a bombastic, '80s-styled synthpop sound, and this is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it!

(Jesse Gregory)

"What's It Gonna Be?"
Source: 7 Stage 1

When DusK first asked me to appear on the album, I knew what I had to do. In fact, he told me what to do when he said, "We don't have anyone on the roster yet that can bring the wub, and we both know you can bring the wub, so if you're interested in bringin' the wub, the thread's right here." And so I brought the wub. But, with my short attention span, the wub soon turned into face-melting metal, then glitch-ridden drum 'n bass. But with Dj Mokram's constructive feedback ("Please DO NOT slow this piece down to a crawl like this. EVER."), I was able to keep the whole thing from going off the rails and make a versatile hybrid of genres that somehow manages to stay cohesive.

"Decision" was a natural song choice for me. It's practically made of Genesis wubs already! It also has some incredibly odd melodies and rhythms that I knew would give me a fun challenge to work with. And the fill that ties the loop together was so good, I couldn't help but sample it.

(Risto Kokkonen)

"Tri-Formation"
Source: 7 Stage 2

"Tri-Formation" is a rather liberal breaks/dubstep hybrid revolving around the original's 6/4 bassline. The track is expanded into three parts -- labeled Hammer, Dragon and Runner by the neat machine voice -- and each take a shot at musically representing the guard device's different forms.

I can't really say much about the game itself as I was a Nintendo kid growing up, but I happened to buy it from Wii's Virtual Console a few years ago. Can't beat it even if my life depended on it, but it's a welcome challenge like all retro games.

(Michael Isel)

"Technology's Uncontrollable Disaster"
Source: 7 Stage Boss

I went for something more about the character of Golden Silver, i.e. his title as the great destructor. So the track is aimed more towards introducing him and his portfolio of destruction. In the storyline (the real Japanese one), Golden Silver is thought to be the god of ruin, though in reality he is just a very powerful robot. And so the title "Technology's Uncontrollable Disaster" was appropriate, as it does describe Golden Silver. The title again also has a second meaning, again the subject matter being the augmentation of technology while the human factor is being diminished more and more. And because of the way society functions as a whole, once something gets out, you can't take it back (in this case, our technology-fueled lifestyles). The approach for this mix was more on the side of heavy metal with a bit of modern electronic elements, mainly synthesis techniques that are popular in electro house, drum & bass, and even some dubstep. The reason being that electronics are the voice of Golden Silver, while the other elements of the song are the stage. To further bring out the qualities of the theme, I used drop G tuning, and, to capture the bottom heaviness without it being over distorted, I used a guitar amp head in a bass cabinet on Guitar Rig 3. Enjoy.
"No Time to Rest"
Source: Staff

I've never played Gunstar Heroes, but after this album project was announced, I checked out the soundtrack and thought it was pretty cool, so I decided to claim a track. The source for this is called "Heroes - Reprise for Yellow," and I decided to make it sort of an 80s rock song with the most prominent instrument being the synths, which I think worked out quite well.

(Jordan Etienne)

"Nice Legs"
Source: 5 Stage Boss

During the wrapping-up months, I kept noticing that "Smash Daisaku" was dateless, and I don't like seeing some of my favorite VGM themes on albums deal with unrequited love. So, I hopped on aboard to come up with something ASAP in the last week, not knowing that Mikeaudio had also tackled the same song. All in all, I'm sure that two tracks for Daisaku are far better than none!

(Callum Kennedy)

"See Ya Space Cowboy"
Source: Opening

For my track, I tried to be aggressive, and then, realizing that I'm probably the least aggressive person in the Southern Hemisphere, I decided to opt for a different approach.

Maybe I'd been watching too much Cowboy Bebop... maybe I hadn't been watching enough. Either way, there's definitely some influence there. I'd like to thank my cat for recording itself, which is disguised as a guitar slide. Nope. Actually a cat. True story. Legit. 110%.

 

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