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Monday, 19 December 2011

Last Redentor - Donald Byrd v Herbert

Free MP3 download: IronicHide_LastRedentor.mp3

Donald Byrd 'Cristo Redentor' vs Herbert 'The Last Beat (House Dub)'
Written by Duke Pearson, Matthew Herbert; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Blue Note 1963, Studio !K7 1998

So. Now then. Then now. My debut album is complete and available to download.

This should have been my first mashup on here. There was a kerfuffle and I put up this instead.

Except it's not my first mashup. That would be when I took the guitar channel out of a folk pop song and stuck the remaining vocal over a heavily processed Iggy Pop beat. More on that later, though, you impetuous scamp.

Actually, my first mashup was a mess made out of Crazy Girl by Basement Jaxx. Happily, for both of us, I killed it. With fire.

This was all back in the basement lounge of my flat in South Ealing. The computer was set up at the end of the couch. I nearly broke my neck craning round to make these things. Also, no flat screen back then. Those of you who have watched the minutiae of an audio scope on a curved screen will understand the hilarious ocular problems we are bound to encounter in later life.

However, this mashup was a happy mistake. I had a Mary Wells acapella that I wanted to stick to something smokey and muscular but never quite found the instrumental I wanted. (Until this.) Instead, I found two instrumentals in the exact same tempo (to the nearest hundredth of a second).

So what? There are an unlimited number of tracks out there in the same tempo. They need to sound good together. Byrd's track is full of chromatic passing notes and Latino augmentations. There's not much that should sound in tune with that.

Happily, my search for contrast in a mashup - something we all should do, bubba - uncovered Herbert's understated gem. Criminally destroying it seemed obvious.

A lot of this had to do with the two tracks being on the same shelf of my CD collection. They were both given to me around the same time in my life. My university flatmate, cretin that he is, found he had no use for the Observer's free CD 60 Years of Cool (which also had Duke Ellington's Caravan on it) and my summer job between academic years at Universal begat me a copy of Gilles Peterson's Worldwide (Volume 1).

This is the sort of coincidence I mistake for serendipity and only encourages me to do stupid things with music.

There's actually very little of my own labour here. I picked a swell in the sound in Cristo Redondor, from there estimated where the first muted bass drum should land from The Last Beat and let the tracks play out.

Just to make me feel like I contributed, I sampled and looped the vocal from Herbert at the start and had to manually manipulate the tempo of Byrd's track (around the first phrases of trumpet) to get a fit with the precision minimalism beneath it.

So that's it, then, now. To date, the longest mashup I've made and, at the time, the quickest to make (roughly two hours' work). Of these first and early works, it's the only time I've put together two instrumental tracks.

Enjoy. Or don't. Your thoughts, as ever, are welcome.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

ZooFights VI - the final round-up

Hang on to your trousers, little fella, I've left the coalface unattended for too long and there's a fire to finish stoking.

That wonderful and bulbous website of grotesquery, ZooFights, finished itself off for another glorious year recently, with four of my mashups used in it. Before that, there were a couple of semi-finals which again used three mashups from your very narrator. On top of all that, there's the chuffing and honking clutter of the bonus mashups (or: Thems That Never Got Used) from across the tournament for you to plug into your ears.

So, forgive me for being brief, you've got a lot of music to have ruined for you.

Anyhow, the final...


Ministy 'Thieves' vs Michael Jackson 'Smooth Criminal' vs Herbie Hancock 'Rockit' vs Ray Parker Jr 'Ghostbusters (Instrumental)' vs Alfred Newman 'The Fox Fanfare'
Written by Alain Jourgensen, Paul Barker, Chris Connelly, Kevin Ogilvie, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Michael Bienhorn, Ray Parker Jr; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Sire 1989, Epic 1988, Columbia 1983, Arista 1984, 20th Century Fox 1997

...began with this. Which, itself, began a good few months ago with an experiment to mash the 20th Century Fox Fanfare with Thieves. Everything after that point was a Frankenstein composite of tracks I found to be in a similar key and tempo. The Ray Parker Jr instrumental was lying around after work on the mashup below, Michael Jackson's track was something I always wanted to use (and thought the bullhorn instructions fit with the samples Ministry used), and Herbie Hancock's Rockit was an obligation to use in an '80s-themed tournament. The recording of the fanfare was actually taken off my DVD of Fight Club for, y'know, giggles. The mashup was originally intended to be the introduction of the WCW fighters during the rumble, hence "thieves" and "criminals", but was never finished in time.


Yello 'Oh Yeah' vs Styx 'Mr Roboto'
Written by Dieter Meier, Boris Blank, Dennis DeYoung; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Vertigo 1984, A&M 1982

This was the theme for the eventual winner of the entire ZooFights tournament, Hardcore Prawn II: Claws For Concern. Essentially, a cheating lobster hiding in a giant robot with a tactical nuke and secretly controlling six or seven more robot lobster units. Fellow ZF artist The Deleter had requested I use Oh Yeah at some point and, having used Yello's other well-known track The Race in a mashup for a previous iteration of the lobster, it seemed a good fit. Styx's track was always going to fit in with the character but I'd held off using it before as I'd never quite known what to put it with. Mr Roboto was initially sped up to fit with Shellshock by New Order (see below), an aborted early idea, and Oh Yeah was sped up to fit that as hearing the track at intended pace now sounded too slow. Though Oh Yeah is arranged in four chunks, I only used two of them (the last bit at the start, the opening at the end), and repeated a four-bar section to cover the rising finale of Mr Roboto. There's some fiddling with the EQ and a tremolo effect layered on Mr Roboto to bring the vocals and organ stabs out a bit. I'm quite chuffed with the segue between the first and second chorus (around 45 seconds into the mashup), and even more chuffed with the great reception the track got from fellow ZooFights staff when I handed it in about 12 hours before the final.

Ray Parker Jr 'Ghostbusters' vs Mike Post 'The A-Team'
Written by Ray Parker Jr, Mike Post, Pete Carpenter; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Arista 1984, Elektra 1982

Yeehaw. Mike Post got used again. This was a bitch to line up the vocals. Point of note: The word Ghostbusters does not appear in this mashup at all. It's the theme tune for a group of renegade, mystery-solving scaley anteaters that died and turned up in the final as near-corporeal spirits.

Senor Coconut 'Smooth Operator' vs New Order 'Shellshock'
Written by Sade Adu, Ray St John, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, John Robie; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Epic 1985, Factory 1986

I am literally sick of listening to this. Throughout the tournament, I have been thin on ideas of two songs from the 1980s that typify a Tex-Mex wrestling armadillo. The previous two attempts, Orionosaur and Real American Ghost, are two of my biggest near-misses. El 'dillo just seemed jinxed to never get a good mashup out of me. New Order's track nearly got used several times in this year's ZooFights, and was given a try for any mashup for any animal with a shell. The timing wasn't too far off Senor Coconut's lovely version of every estate agent's favourite chill tune, so this happened. The frantic coda was stuck in just to ruin the experience for everybody.

But before all that ill behaviour were the semis. Which I quite enjoyed for different reasons.

Nine Inch Nails 'Dead Souls' vs Alessi 'Savin' The Day'
Written by Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Bill Alessi, Bob Alessi; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Atlantic 1994, Arista 1984

Yet another track that was partly for the armadillo and is, therefore, partly cack. Two years ago, I was playing around with Nine Inch Nails' cover of Joy Division and managed to totally wipe the vocal with no loss of integrity to the track but this time, I couldn't get the same (inversion) trick to work. So what you hear here are instrumental segments from the track lined up in a different arrangement. There's a lot done to the Alessi Brothers' song. It's inverted, had the EQ altered, and been shifted up a half-tone. Both tracks were sped up until at the same tempo and every 16 bars, there's a (passing) note taken out of the fill on the Alessi track. Ach, maybe it's not so terrible.

The B-52s 'Rock Lobster' vs INXS 'Need You Tonight' vs Glen A Larson and Stu Phillips 'Knight Rider' (Including samples from 'Hardcore Motherfucker' by Ultraviolence)
Written by Fred Schneider, Ricky Wilson, Andrew Farris, Michael Hutchence, Glen A Larson, Stu Phillips, Johnny Casey; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) DB Records 1978, Atlantic 1987, NBC 1982 (Earache 1994)

The original idea was that both semi-finals would happen at the same time, so this mashup and the one above were made alongside each other as 'Day' and 'Night' (ironically, because the fights are actually set the other way around). I also helped script both fights, so one is an arrival to a ticking-bomb scenario while the other is a chase to a climax. The B-52s track (which got an '80s re-release and totally doesn't count as me arsing up my '80s-only ambitions) was another piece I always had in reserve for signposting the lobster / cray fish / prawn character. Even though the guitar line is played clean twice in the song and even has a count in, it is a pain to get at the right tempo to suit anything else. I already had the INXS song lying around in pieces from an earlier attempt to make a piece of music for a ZooFights News sting which never happened. Larson and Phillips' theme just plays through as is. Because it's based around a chromatic bunch of notes (E - G#), I had to take out certain bars of the guitar line from Need You Tonight and replace them with just the drums.

John Williams 'The Forest Battle' vs Alan Silvestri 'Jungle Trek' vs Front 242 'Headhunter' (Version 1.0, Version 3.0) (Including samples from Predator)
Written by John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Daniel Bressanutti, Patrick Codenys, Jean-Luc De Meyer, Richard Jonckheere; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) RSO 1983, Varese Sarabande 2003, Sony 1988 (20th Century Fox, 1987)

This is another instance whereby I totally disagree with the largely-ignorant public. This is one of the best things I've done. Or: It's one of the few tracks I've made that I don't cringe when I hear and I know just how much work went into it. So why has it only got a quarter of the hits of The Race Under The Sea? I've used John Williams' music from Star Wars before (another case of wondering why it wasn't more popular) and like the full-stop tempo he uses when he wants to throw some bombast in there. Also, the Battle of Endor was a big reference for the artwork for the fight. As was Predator, which I had a lot of fun sampling. Mac and Billy are my boys 4 lyfe. I've referred to using both album versions of Headhunter by Front 242 but actually the bits I've used here are single bars here and there taken from a sweet mashup produced by A Plus D. I think this mashup actually makes Alan Silvestri the musician I've most used in this project. Though turning his 7/8 music cue into something that could fit two solid 4/4 pieces was a bugger. I'm still amused at how much it sounds like the bongos used on Rock The Casbah.  

So that's the actually-used stuff, here's all the extras from across the tournament:

Alan Silvestri 'Back To The Future Overture' vs Wu Tang Clan 'Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit' vs Ford Kinder and Anne Bryant 'The Transformers (Series 2 Opening)' vs Public Enemy 'Yo! Bumrush The Show' (Including sample from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors)
Written by Alan Silvestri, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, Clifford Smith, Ford Kinder, Anne Bryant, William Drayton, Hank Shocklee, Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, Joseph Anthony Carter, Moe Daniels; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) MCA 1985, Loud Records 1993, Sunbow 1985, Def Jam 1987, United Artists 1975

My second-shortest mashup of all time, also produced in pretty much the second-shortest amount of time and, to my addled mind, a pretty accurate soundscape to the (planned) surprise re-emergence of a Freddy Care Bear riding a time-travelling transforming tiger with a 'fuk mi lyfe' attitude. Initially, Wu Tang would have featured more but speeding up their track to fit Kinder and Bryant's sounded ridiculous. So, as I've done before, Public Enemy (or the first 16 bars and another 16 bars from the bridge) stepped in as a late substitute. This mashup was entirely composed while the final fight was happening.

Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page 'Come With Me' vs Faith No More 'Epic'
Written by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham, Sean Combs, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin, Roddy Bottum, Jim Martin, Mike Patton; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Epic 1998, Slash 1989

I apologise. No matter Jimmy Page's endorsement, I feel dirty using this version of Kashmir. Though the giant snapping turtle hooked on PCP that is represented here does suit Puff Daddy's attitude. Major Failure, the omnipotent kingpin of ZooFights asked for something off the Godzilla soundtrack. It was only after work was well-begun on this that he explained he wanted lots of dinosaur roars and sound effects, not this. So that's why there's a big roar at the end. Also, the Faith No More acapella comes in a bar too late but tallies up with the chorus. I guess Mike Patton only raps 15 bars at the start. 

Slayer 'Angel Of Death' vs Milan Kymlicka 'Babar' vs Anwar, Kishore Kumar & Aziz Nazan 'Qurbani Qurbani'
Written by Jeff Hanneman, Milan Kymlicka, Farooq Qaiser, Kalyanji-Anandji Biddu; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Def Jam 1986, Nelvana 1989

Slayer are pretty much the aural equivalent of the ZooFights VI elephant to me. An animal used as destruction equipment that, through political authoritarianism, eventually becomes a god. I used the opening credits of Milan Kymlicka's score this time and the theme from Qurbani was used because the opening recital sounded like the kind of poetic call at the end of the world that would suit Angel Of Death and the one-bar percussive break I took from the second half of the track fit the big riff pretty well. There's not much in Angel Of Death that doesn't include a lot of thrash guitar so I made the most of Dave Lombardo's drumwork to cover some gaps and ended up making a joke of it with the jungle chirps from Kymlicka. Well, I laughed.

Prong 'Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck' vs The Turtles 'Snappy Together' (Including sample from MTV Video Music Awards 2009); Written by Tommy Victor, Paul Raven, Ted Parsons, John Bechdel, Gary Bonner, Alan Gordon; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Epic 1993, White Wale 1967 (MTV 2009)

Several times I spoke to Major Failure, suggesting mashups I could make for contenders in previous ZooFights. One of those was this mashup for The Snapture. Happily, the great big snapping turtle with a PCP habit was making a comeback in this tournament. Initially, it was planned for him to beach during the semi-final, crushing thousands of spectators. This would have been the soundtrack. The sequence got cut from the fight, so this never got used. Happily, because The Snapture was not of the 1980s, I had free reign to use Prong and The Turtles (and Kanye).

Foreigner 'Cold As Ice' vs Dead Kennedys 'California Uber Alles' (Including sample from Snap! 'The Power')
Written by Lou Gramm, Mick Jones, Jello Biafra, John Greenway (and Michael Munzing, Luca Anzalotti) 
(c) Atlantic 1977,  Optional 1979 (Ariola 1990)

I have no such excuse for breaking my '80s handcuffs on this one, though. I thought all three tracks were from that decade. Still, they're two favourites of mine. The use of Foreigner's track is obvious enough for a snowmobile-riding pair of walruses with a freeze ray, and the Dead Kennedys song likening West Coast liberalism to cultural fascism was picked because one of the Walruses is a Reaganite capitalist, so, actually, neither liberal nor fascist, but the whole thing's a touch ambiguous and the walruses are meant to be German). The DKs got cut up quite a bit for this as only the drums and half the bass lines are in tune with Foreigner. The idea of the big dramatic 1st-beat chords in the chorus of each song put together was the real reason I wanted these two songs mashed. It works in a lovable and clumsy way, I reckon. Secretly, this is one of my favourite mashes.

Europe 'The Final Countdown' vs Air Supply 'All Out Of Love' vs Poison 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn'
Written by Joey Tempest, Bret Michaels, Clive Davis, Graham Russell; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Epic 1986, Capitol 1988, Arista 1980

This wasn't part of the tournament. The ZooFights forums encourage users to make outlandish bets on the outcome of the fights, I lost one to a giant squid bartender, and agreed to make a mashup of Europe and Air Supply for him. He also mentioned he liked Poison, so a bit got added on the end. Also, the Air Supply track is pitch-shifted up half-an-octave to get it roughly in tune. While most mashups make me loathe the source material through over-familiarity, the more I listen to Europe, the more impressed I am by Joey Tempest, particularly his voice. My first proper girlfriend had a poster of him on the inside of her bedroom door, so I've always felt he was judging me.

So that's it. ZooFights done with for another year. I'll stick up a Best Of (?) album and a long-form ADHD mix to celebrate soon enough.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Brown Blood - Slayer v Roni Size / Reprazent

Brown Blood by IronicHide

Roni Size / Reprazent 'Brown Paper Bag' (Vocal Edit, Photek Remix, Nobukazu Takemura Remix) vs Slayer 'Reign In Blood'
Written by Roni Size, Jeff Hannemann, Kerry King
Arranged by IronicHide
(c) 1997 Talkin' Loud, 1986 Def American

Hello, again, little one, come on in, you look chilly. I've lit the fire and am burning anything incriminatory today.

If you're asking about the ZooFights thing, there are a few more tracks to post up here, and I will do so, don't let me forget. Meanwhile, let me remind you of an old story: My debut album.

This is the last of seven tracks I'm putting up on Soundcloud. The next update will be the completion of the album, with all eight tracks and exclusive (crappy) artwork available through a variety of sources. All for free.

So, yes, this thing. Pull up a cushion, I'll tell you whatagwan.

Back in May 1997 I worked in a record store in Hammersmith. I'd got the job because I was the only interviewee who said I like music. I'd only been in the job for a few weeks when the Mercury Music Prize nominees came out. There was a big push in the store to make sure we had copies of all nominated albums forever on display at the front of the shop, mainly OK Computer by Radiohead, who everybody fancied for the prize.

I said not. Even as a Radiohead fan who'd nearly worn out the binary on his CD copy of OK Computer, I thought New Forms would win. It was the end of the high for the Bristol breakbeat era and Labour were taking office for the first time in 18 years. I'd had my first split with my first proper girlfriend and had nearly finished my first year of A-levels. Things pointed to a live instrumentation drum'n'bass album with jazz nods and a lot of prog doing well.

I remember staking my credibility in the store on Roni Size / Reprazent winning. It was 16-1 at the bookies nearby and I threatened to put a fiver on it. When it did win, my manager just resented me for being right. Everybody wanted to buy New Forms in the following week and it was made my task to explain to people that it was a double CD and, therefore, £18. (If you own the later-released single CD version, you've pretty much got all the best stuff; pick up the Watching Windows remixes single, if you can.)

Against that, I fucking love Slayer. Reign In Blood isn't my favourite album, that's Seasons In The Abyss, but Raining Blood is my favourite track. Some may scoff at this. It's akin to saying Smells Like Teen Spirit is your favourite Nirvana track, or Creep is the best thing Radiohead have done.

Thrash snobs (of whom I would consider myself a member) tend to praise Angel Of Death for it's rhapsodic structure, speed and precision, and for really setting down the agenda of the genre. Those who don't mind a bit of Lombardo-blasphemy may go for Killing Fields or Dittohead. Slayer fans also tend to throw in War Ensemble or Mandatory Suicide as overlooked gems. Which they are, but I'm sticking with Raining Blood.

So, two big songs that will, one day, be chosen by me when I'm a world-conquering musical rearrangement artist and interviewed for BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. This will happen.

I know, and I am prepared for a lot of scorn being poured on this mashup. Metal fans (the wider hub of the thrash snob community) tend to be resentful about other people messing about with metal. Like all bookish, pedantic, anti-social people, metallers tend to resent most things. I can say this because I am one and have spent enough time in The Marlborough Head and The Intrepid Fox, reading a Machine Head inlay book or Fear Factory lyric sheet. In short: Unless you are Devin Townsend, I'm not listening to your cries that I may not fuck with the music that I enjoy. There are no sacred cows.

Intelligent dance music (IDM, a short-lived catch-all term for a lot of UK and German instrumental albums from 1995 - 2005) snobs, on the other hand, tend to not care a cuss about Roni Size and attribute his brief popularity to the 'hhhhheeehhhhnnnn' cry from Onallee that signals the beat kicking in on Brown Paper Bag. Then they go back to debating Plastikman or Squarepusher. One of these guys is a real pain to work with, ask me about that one day.

This is the last of the very, very early mashups I made. Probably the third or fourth. It began, in 2007, with the realisation that the inversion trick on Raining Blood didn't wipe out Tom Araya's voice, it wiped out Dave Lombardo's drums. Which is not ideal for listening to Slayer. Personal opinion: Lots of what King and Hanneman do is dressing for Lombardo's work, which is still the punchiest drum sound ever produced (25 years after recording).

Anyhow, I had some isolated Slayer guitar lines. I stuck the Vocal Edit of Brown Paper Bag over the top as it was the nearest thing to hand that was equally as fast-paced.

About half of what you hear on this mashup - the intro, the coda - is what was made in 2007, in my old South Ealing flat. The rest of it is a 2010 remake of the original idea for the verses, a 2011 remake of the section from 2:00 to 2:25 and, from there to about 3:15, a newer section I made on a whim. Tucked in there is a double-time breakbeat I made from individual cymbal and drum samples.

If at any point in the production, the timing went out between the tracks, I always stuck with Slayer being correct. Because we do not question Dave Lombardo.

There are three different mixes of Brown Paper Bag used - the Vocal Edit, the Nobukazu Takemura Remix, and the Photek Remix - all of which I got because the store I purchased the CD from (not the one I worked in) put the wrong disc in the sleeve.

Man, I could have got £80 if I'd followed that bet. That was a fortnight's wage back then. Which reminds me, PJ Harvey owes me for winning the Mercury Prize this year. Ask me about that some time.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

ZooFights VI Royal Rumble: 23 tracks, 21 artists, 12 minutes, 11 meg, nine mashups, four samples

You remember how I said rush jobs make me lose my mind? You remember how I said big mixes make me lose my mind? Fweep.

This is also a first for me. The mix above includes elements, I won't quite call them individual mashups, that are only for the mix, namely Real Life (a sample from GOP TV vs Faith No More 'The Real Thing' vs 'Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)' by Soul II Soul) and Flash Fear (Tones On Tail 'The Movement Of Fear' vs Helen St John 'Love Theme From Flashdance'). There are, of course, a few mashups within it that I can make available individually. So I will. Lucky you.

Additional credits: Nobuo Uematsu 'Final Fantasy (Opening)' and 'Final Fantasy (Victory)', written by Nobuo Uematsu, (c) DataM / Polystar 1989 Rising Tide (c) GOPTV 1994; Faith No More 'The Real Thing', written by Mike Patton, Roddy Bottum, Mike Gould, (c) Slash 1989; Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, (c) 20th Century Fox 1984; Tones On Tail 'Movement Of Fear', written by Daniel Ash, Glenn Campling, Kevin Haskins, (c) Beggars Banquet 1984; Helen St John 'Love Theme From Flashdance', written by Giorgio Moroder, (c) Casablanca 1983; arranged by IronicHide

Soul II Sould 'Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)' v Alice Cooper 'Feed My Frankenstein'; Written by Trevor Beresford Romeo, Caron Wheeler, Nellee Hooper, Simon Law, Alice Cooper, Mark Manning, Ian Richardson, Nick Coler; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Virgin 1989, Epic 1992
Ok, gotta 'fess up at this point. This mashup was made for an earlier incarnation of the ZooFights competitor Angsteater, back when it fought Cold Warlrus. It didn't get used (neither did the Walruses' tune) as the fight coverage started mid-brawl and/or nobody liked it. Tomaeto, tomahto. This version, however, has an extended coda that I dumped out of the mix to cut the running time and to get a sweet segue from Soul II Soul to the Def Leppard v AC/DC mashup. The acapella was sped up slightly to fit Alice Cooper's track, and this mashup was used to set the timing for the long-form mix; thus making Feed My Frankenstein (which I only found out was released in 1992 long after I'd made this, damn my presumptive attitude) probably the only bit of audio in the entire Rumble soundtrack that is in its original tempo.

Beastie Boys 'Brass Monkey' v The Pixies 'Monkey Gone To Heaven'; Written by Francis Black, Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz, Rick Rubin; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Elektra 1989, Def Jam / Columbia 1986

And, if you're taking confessions, I've already written about this Beasties v Pixies mashup. It was part of a raft of mashups made before we really worked out how to use them in ZooFights. If I had enough time to make nine individual theme tunes, I would have. I didn't, I'm afraid, but a skateboarding monkey that was always headed for disaster and had now been turned in to a jar of frog's piss absolutely justified the recycling of this track, to my mind. It's a classic conundrum.

Def Leppard 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' v AC/DC 'Back In Black; Written by Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Joe Elliot, Robert John Lange, Rick Savage, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Brian Johnson; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Mercury 1987, Atlantic 1981
These two songs are exactly the same. Chug, chug-chug, noodly bit, chug. Same tempo. Bit more production on one. Ignore the chorues. It's like putting frozen peas and sweetcorn in the same pot. Not that there weren't problems. The production levels on Angus Young's lead guitar fills are, ironically, quiet. So, I covered one with another Back To Life sample in the Rumble mix and tried to distract the listener by having the next two fills play alternately in the left and right speaker. For the single mix, I duplicated the fills to play in both channels and boost the sound. There's a chancy cut and overlay of Def Leppard toward the end. This mashup should be a lot shorter but I liked parts of it and extended them to have fun.

Nitzer Ebb 'Let Your Body Learn' (Plastikman arrangement) v AC/DC 'Thunderstruck'; Written by Bon Harris, David Gooday, Douglas McCarthy, Angus Young, Malcolm Young; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Mute 1987, ATCO 1990

This was the first mashup I made for the Rumble. Sped up Thunderstruck to fit the beat, mixed down Let Your Body Learn for some apparent reason that I later regretted. Note: I'm calling it the Plastikman arrangement as I got the Nitzer Ebb track from the Richie Hawtin long-form mix Decks, Efx & 909. Also, the production ended up so tinny on this thing, I literally just duplicated it to make it twice as loud. 

New Order 'True Faith' v Manhar & Sadhna Sargam 'Har Kisiko Nahin Milta Pyar'; Written by Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Hague, Indivar, Anandji Veerji Shah, Kalyanji Veerji Shah; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Factory 1987, Universal Music India 1986

This was the last mashup made for the Rumble, and in a total blind panic. I was still editing it as the Rumble actually started. True Faith, particular the opening eight bars, makes me inexplicably happy. I thought I'd extend them into a two-minute piece. The entire New Order half of this mashup is the opening two bars looped four times, then the second, third and fourth two looped four times. That's it. Took about 20 minutes. Normally, I'd hand make a loop by splitting the sample from the original and overlaying it. Didn't have time. Just found the in and out points to the nearest millisecond, hit Repeat, selected '3' times. Boom, on we go. If your in and out points aren't exact, any other music longer than the loop, risks going horribly out of sync and no time-stretching will save the mashup. I took the opening 12 bars only from Manhar & Sadhna's song from Janbaaz (a lunatic musical of sex and violence from '80s Bollywood), which left plenty of wiggle room. While honking out short mashups in double-quick time for ZooFights, I learned an equaliser is a worthy isolater and I took a lot out of the track to leave the bass guitar, the snare, the voices and the rinky-dink-dink notes made from a machine I imagine to be made of fine metal tongs and a hand crank. The Rumble version has a slight wobble after the first passage so that's where the Temple of Doom sample got stuck in. Rearranging things for the stand-alone mashup I was able to shift the harmonies within it and add some fading-out rinky-dinks.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Duckulawnmoa.mp3

Doreen Edwards & Mike Harding 'Count Duckula (Ending)' v Lawnmower Deth 'Watch Out Grandma, Here Comes A Lawnmower'; Written by Mike Harding, ; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Cosgrove Hall, Earache 1989
This would have set my all-time new personal best on quickest mashup ever, some 20-odd minutes, were it not for my sound editor crashing as I went to put a final fade on Lawnmower Deth. The Edwards and Harding track, though it sounds like I just taped it off the TV, was actually an MP3 that I put through an aggressive equaliser so that the drums on 'Watch Out...' were more prominent. It is still my shortest mashup since I only used the second verse and chorus of the Duckula theme, so be thankful for tiny mercies. This is another mashup with a significant difference from the long mix version: There's a lot more Lawnmower Deth stuck in and I digitally coded 'Gonna rip your face off' in to the track. 


Blondie 'Atomic' v Metallica 'Ride The Lightning', including samples from Johnny Cash 'The Man Comes Around' and Strapping Young Lad 'S.Y.L.'; Written by Debbie Harry, Jimmy Destri, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, Dave Mustaine; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Chrysalis 1980, Megaforce 1984, Def American 2002, Century Media 1995

I promise to stop using Metallica. Honestly, I'm done with them. But it's so tempting when making short '80s mashups. The songs are instantly recognisable, fast tempo and James Hetfield sings on one note. Except he doesn't on this. If anything, previous to the Black album, this is the Metallica song with the most note-rambling throatwork. Those stretched notes and sudden harmonic dips in the chorus; almost every track I'd used previously for Teslacorn or Horsepower had this acapella thrown over it. It fitted none of them. Similarly, I'd tried to use Blondie's track with other songs but the melody just wouldn't work. Regarding the samples: Mental Ben (the terror bear) rides Nightmare (a horse that science has rendered abominable) into the final. So I cut up Johnny Cash talking about a horse and Devin Townsend talking about a bear. In the Rumble mix, I use it as a lead from Flash Fear in to this track but liked it well enough to stick it in this single mix. As a bonus, this is the extended version with two verses instead of one. I really spoil you, huh? 

Monday, 12 September 2011

ZooFights Round Two round up

Oh, do excuse the mess, stay, I'll chat while I tidy up.

To sum up: I've got a debut album of mashups in the pipes. As soon as my legal team exists, they'll be sorting something out and all is go.

In the meantime, I currently whore my services to the entirely fantastic ZooFights website, making mashups in tout-suite time to soundtrack the competitors and brawls of the sixth ZooFights tournament, set in the 1980s.

Well, the quarter-finals of the tournament concluded this week and there are seven more tracks (spread across three fights) to let you know about. Aren't you lucky?

Charles Bernstein '(A Nightmare On Elm Street) Prologue' v Vince Di Cola 'Escape' v Mike Post '(Quantum Leap) Main Title'; Written by Charles Bernstein, Vince Di Cola, Mike Post; Arranged by IronicHide; (c)Varese Sarabande 1984, Scotti Bros 1986, Crescendo 1989

Let's pick up where we left off. The joke finale of that Teddy v Transformer brew-ha was to have them both warp off through time with the fight unsettled. Then, midway through the last quarter-final, they both reappeared through time to finish things.
Knowing that this would happen, I actually had three weeks to make this track. Which didn't stop me doing it in a mad rush right before the fight went live.
There are three jokes with this: One, the last track of the Teddy Krueger v Delorelion mini-album ended with a sample from the original 1984/5 bumper 'The Transformers will return after these messages...' so this track was compelled to start with the reciprocal announcement '...We now return to the Transformers'. Two, having used Charles Bernstein's Nightmare On Elm Street theme here and here, as well as tracks from the second and fourth movie, I thought it only fitting to finally use his Prologue piece at the very end of the fight. Three, there was lots of chat of bringing in other '80s time travel references - Bill and Ted, Sylvester McCoy's Doctor Who - but I settled on using Mike Post's Quantum Leap theme, swung mainly by the episode where Sam becomes a monkey in a dress with a gun. Brill.
Though none of three tunes used are in the same tempo, they are in fairly harmonious keys: The Prologue is in F, Escape by Vince Di Cola is in A# and the Quantum Leap theme is in D#, each one a major-fourth of the other.
I'm not proud of the rush job making Quantum Leap fit with Di Cola's syncopated synth score but I do like the diad I created by having the first note (and echoing glissando) of Di Cola's chime with the opening tone of Bernstein.
Obviously, Escape is cut down to fit the much-shorter tune by Post but that, in turn, needed some bars being looped - noticeably the sax break - to fit the dynamics.

Aled Jones 'Walking In The Air' v Queen 'Flash'; Written by Howard Blake, Brian May; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) EMI 1985, 1980

This thing was rolling pretty early on. It was a re-jig of a cast-off idea for the competitor Teslacorn (from Round One) who got upgraded in to Horsepower. There's also an in-joke about Major Failure, who runs ZooFights, trying to get Brian Blessed to comment on the fight, hence the repetition of "Gordon's alive".
The first verse by Aled Jones is duplicated and inverted to make it sound as though the song is coming in from far away, from up in a dark cloud.
The two songs were easy to combine, one being devoid of time-keeping percussion and the other being built around a continuous bass-drum quarter note. It was also easy to cock up. When anything is possible in a mashup, imagination and execution are the only limits. There's only one moment I think I fumbled and that's toward the bridge. If I'd had time, the bridge from Queen - "He's for everyone of us / Fight for everyone of us" - should have been moved forward a few bars and let the instrumental section of Jones' track fade down on its own.
And, no, it wasn't that easy. Almost no two beats of Taylor's bass drum sound the same on that track and, what with using segments of it from all over the original tune, there's a lot of fading in and out, trying to smooth the transitions from different samples. That first verse contains at least 13 (I stopped counting) different samples from Flash.

The Specials 'Ghost Town' v Rick Derringer 'I Am A Real American'; Written by Jerry Dammers, Rick Derringer; Arranged by IronicHide; (c)2 Tone 1981, Epic 1985

This was a pain. Can you tell? As soon as I knew that Luchadillo, a Mexican armadillo wrestler, was being updated to bring in the power to summon the dead, I knew I wanted to use Ghost Town, which is one of my all-time favourite tracks and should sit here as an example that I hold no cows to be sacred. It also has a two-minute Hispanic funeral trombone solo in the extended. That was getting used.
The trouble was that all my other music that suited the theme - Shellshock by New Order, the music from Pro Wrestling for the NES - didn't work with The Specials. Having such a languid pace, everything else would either have to be slowed to the point of serious sound degradation to match it or sped up to create a false double-time. While this worked for tiny moments, it rendered the two tracks auditioned almost constantly manic.
So I came across Rick Derringer's track pretty close to deadline. I had a few wrestling themes (because who doesn't?) and wanted to subvert this one the most by having "a real American", in the eyes of Muertadillo or those who clamour for Aztalan (I'll wait while you wikipedia that), mean somebody from Old California through to wherever Columbus landed.
For the techies, I knocked out the drums from Ghost Town using a standard equaliser. There's an interesting shift (cutting to exactly half tempo) after the first Derringer chorus and about halfway through I used four different samples from The Specials to cover a crack which still sounds pretty ropey.
As somebody on the ZooFights forums asked: "Did he just mix Hogan's theme tune with a vuvuzela?"

Erik B & Rakim 'Paid In Full (Seven Minutes Of Madness)' v The Cardigans 'Mr Crowley'; Written by Eric Barrier, Rakim Allah (Lloyd Pinchback, Bill Laswell, Michael Bienhorn, Bernard Zekri, Franne Golde, Dennis Lambert, Duane Hitchings, Mike Cleveland, Carlos De Jesus, Jose Diaz, James Brown, Fred Wesley, Rabi Shalom-Shabazi, Duane Jones, George Kerr, Samm Culley, Rick Jones, Michael Campbell, Paul Kiser, Andre A Brown, Vincent Montana Jr, James Lindsay, Melvin Miles Jr, Stan Watson, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, John Osbourne; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Fourth & Broadway 1988, Stockholm Records 1995

Both tracks from the fight between two New York streetwise scaly anteater dudes and a druid-raised heavy metal rabbit were arranged to soundtrack moments in the fight, rather than as theme tunes for any specific entrant.
As such, development was fun - lots of Sugarhill Gang, De La Soul, Herbie Hancock, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and King Diamond - but production was a pain. There's an A4 sheet with biro-glyphics all over it in my lounge. It looks like the diary out of Se7en. 
Anyhow, the rabbit was heavily Sabbath-themed and, well, the '80s were inconsistent years for Sabbath under Ronnie James Dio. They were, however, a boom time for Ozzy Osbourne's solo career, so he got used twice.
Admittedly, this is The Cardigans' cover of Mr Crowley but (a) it was a working acapella I had access to and (b) cover versions of '80s tracks are totally allowable in this project. So says me.
There was very little hard work in arranging the track, just chopping up Erik B and Rakim (the Coldcut mix I'm using is predominantly instrumental) to fit the acapella, with a few key samples ("I throw this switch", etc.) tying in with the lyrics ("fooled all the people with magic"). The outro was tacked on to reflect the Pangolins' attitude and as a nod to Mrs IronicHide who, the night I finished this, quite bored of "those funny blue lines on your computer".

Ozzy Osbourne 'Hellraiser' v Public Enemy 'Welcome To The Terrordome'; Written by Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, Carlton Ridenhour, Kurtis Blow, Sean Dickson, TS Monk, Tami Lester Smith, Michael Campbell, Robert Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown, Robert Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Clifford Adams, Sonnie Martin, Shawn McQuiller, Rodney Ellis, Jirmad Gordon, James Taylor, Claydes Charles Smith, Rick Westfield, Gene Redd, Kim Miller, Raymond Earl, Scott Miller, Norman Whitfiel, Barrett Strong, James Brown, Alfred Ellis, C Robbin, John Osbourne, Ian Kilmister, Zakk Wylde; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Epic 1991, Def Jam 1989

Ok, disregard everything I've said about trying to only use music from the 1980s. I finished this, liked it and then checked my album sleeves. Hellraiser is 1991. You know what? So's MC Hammer, the TMNT Rap and Global Hypercolour t-shirts. The early '90s were a glorious rooster tale to the '80s, with the brightest colours and shapes of what went before it on display. Also, damn it.
Public Enemy's track (squeaking in to the '80s by four days) was sped up a fraction and pitch-shifted down by a semi-tone to fit, instrumental sections were selected and stuck together. Think of it as two 16-bar sections from Welcome To The Terrordome and two 16-bar sections from Hellraiser (the palm-mute single string riff played twice) played together, with the moment's inhalation from Chuck D before he announces the song's title used as a segue.
Actually, I'd miscalculated the tempos slightly so that Ozzy is played too fast, Public Enemy is then sped up to match it (again, too fast) and Ozzy is sped up once more toward the end. Which, at least, gives the track some impetus.
Also, I picked ...Terrordome because it had the same sample from Geoffrey Sumner's Train Sequence ("this is a journey in to sound") as used in Paid In Full. If I'd had time, there would have been a third mashup using You're Gonna Get Yours (because ...Terrordome samples it). Maybe, one day, with some Saxon.

Gerard McMahon 'Cry Little Sister' v Quindon Tarver 'When Doves Cry' v Duran Duran 'A View To A Kill'; Written by Gerard McMahon, Michael Mainieri, Prince Rogers Nelson, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, John Barry; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Atlantic 1987, Capitol 1996, EMI 1985

There aren't many songs in the '80s with birds in the title. Birdhouse In Your Soul was 1990 (see above), Wings Of A Dove is a bit obscure and The Chicken Song will not mix with anything. 
When Doves Cry, however, would work nicely seeing as I had Quindon Tarver's version (again, '80s covers are legitimate targets) with a near-acapella first verse compared to Prince's. Also, this was the theme tune to a female murderous bird, so I wanted to use a feminine voice. (Turns out, Tarver was a boy and not a woman at all. Again, damn it.)
Originally I thought I'd only have time for one mashup for the fight and, going by the fight script, used Gerard McMahon's theme tune from The Lost Boys as the other half of a synthetic duet, as if the prawn in a tank that had to fight the terror-chicken was trying to goad her when she asked why they should fight (and they both end in tears).
In a rarity for me, I actually switch tempos at several points in this one. Normally, if I speed up a track, it stays sped but there is a change of gear with the first McMahon chorus, then again with the fade in to Duran Duran (thrown in for fun and because it matches When Doves Cry too well to be abandoned), and once more before the final chorus.
Though I think the finale works well - there are three different Quindon Tarver choruses singing over the top of Cry Little Sister, each starting half a bar after each other - the transition in to it was the moment I spent longest on in the entire thing. And I'm nowhere near happy with it. Just ignore it. Close your ears for two seconds, the remaining two minutes, 39 seconds around it are quite good. Just be thankful I abandoned one last flash of A View To A Kill.

Samuel E Wright (as Sebastian the Crab) 'Under The Sea' v Yello 'The Race'; Written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Boris Blank, Dieter Meier; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Mercury 1988, Disney 1989

This, I don't even know what's going on. It's a song about a crustacean who lives in a supercomputer on tank tracks and wants to kill a duck-chicken-dodo-ostrich-thing. It was made in two hours, 21 minutes. (This thing was made over three years.) Dieter Meier's voice was emphasised using the inversion trick, Sebastian the Crab (from The Little Mermaid) was sped up a bit and had his first two verses and choruses taken out (originally, he was going to sing over the top of Yello, not the other way around). I hate it. There's loads wrong with it and it could have been great. Somehow, it's the most popular thing I've released to date, shooting past my favourite mashups in about an hour. You people are fickle and shouldn't reproduce.

At least, if you've read this far, you've found out the real names of Prince, Ozzy, Lemmy and Chuck D.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Teddy Krueger v Delorelion OST: Thirteen artists, nine films, eight tracks, three franchises, two cats, one bear

Oh, hi there. This thing? This took me seventeen days and nearly made me lose my mind.

When I was 13, my best friend, who was always allowed to watch what he liked, own a BB gun and ride a bike on big roads, made me watch A Nightmare On Elm Street. I think it was more the giddy anticipation that I was going to see an 18-rated movie for the first time, rather than the movie itself, that did it but I didn't sleep for a long while.

Referencing Back To The Future or anything to do with Transformers was not so hard. They were a proficient childhood medicine to what you and I will call 'Kruegeritis'.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Nightmare Song.mp3

Ministry 'Dream Song' v Charles Bernstein 'A Nightmare On Elm Street (Main Title)'; Written by Alain Jourgensen, Paul Barker, Charles Bernstein; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Sire 1989, Verese Sarabande, 1984

Do you remember late July 2011? It got really hot, right through the day and night in London. I spent those days (and many nights up late on my own) listening to this girl mumble about having nightmares because of the heat while I isolated the violin line from Charles Bernstein's score.

In truth, it was that spoken word piece coming up on my walking man player (on shuffle) that alerted me to the track as having potential for any Nightmare Bear music. Given my saturation of Ministry lately, I was aiming not to use them again.

For those that are interested, the first 30 seconds of the Ministry track play as they are on the record and then the last minute or so (with the spoken word in it) has been duplicated and inverted twice over to heighten the voice in the mix.

The Nightmare On Elm Street theme tune is, similarly, two separate sections, one with the opening cascading drums effect and the other starting with the first bar of the violin. Although the drums aren't in a discernable time signature, I had adjusted the tempo of Dream Song to best fit them and rolled with that. 

This mashup was also produced with an advance copy of Tentakulon's superb portrait of Teddy Krueger glaring at me for inspiration.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - The Trans Tiger Touch.mp3

Anne Bryant & Ford Kinder 'The Transformers (End Credits)' v Survivor 'Eye Of The Tiger' v Stan Bush 'The Touch'; Written by Anne Bryant, Jay Bacal, Frankie Sullivan, Jim Peterik, Stan Bush, Lenny Macaluso; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Sunbow 1984, Scotti Brothers 1982, 1986

Yeah. Oh yeah. Start punching the air. If you can't tell, this was made as two separate mashups and is listed as such in the OST on Mixcloud

In complete contrast to the dark, ambient, nervous feel of the intro music for Teddy Krueger, I wanted the Back To The Future transforming cat to have a lot of big rock silliness to him. It helps, too, if there's a silly big rock anthem about a tiger. And if one just happens to have an acapella of it knocking about and the time to make one's own instrumental.

There's a whole album of big rock silliness about Transformers, by the way. I no longer listen to it ironically. It really does get me pumped. I can't help it, nor would I want to.

Anne Bryant's Transformers theme is sped up to match 'Eye Of The Tiger'; Survivor's guitar stabs are not of uniform volume, so some are overlaid to get a consistent sound (and back-masked to provide extra lead-in) and the acapella was laid over a loop made of Stan Bush's track using a scaffold (much like I used in 'Hungery'), with a slight fudge in the transition to the chorus.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Prime Nightmare Future.mp3

Charles Bernstein 'A Nightmare On Elm Street (Main Title)' v Vince Di Cola 'Death Of Optimus Prime' v Alan Silvestri 'Back To The Future (Overture)' v Christopher Young 'A Nightmare On Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge (Main Title)'; Written by Charles Bernstein, Vince Di Cola, Alan Silvestri, Christopher Young; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Verese Sarabande 1984, 1986, Scotti Brothers 1986, MCA 1985

This was a serious attempt at moving away from mashups and in to more audio collage work (think DJ Shadow). Not that it wasn't fun.

Originally, the plan was only to use Bernstein's and Di Cola's themes as both are synth scores in the exact same key, using some of the very same notes and some of the very same preset sounds. However, that meant a lot of the track didn't sound like there was much going on. Just one very loud synth drone in F#m.

I chucked in some of the quieter moments from Silvestri's overture to string two segments together and accidentally left his woodwind theme alongside the heart monitor musical cue by Di Cola. It was a bit of freakish luck (that happens if you throw enough mud at a wall) and is unchanged from what you hear on the track.

Young's theme was added just because the adding was good, with the initial percussive stab at the start erased and the same duplicate-invert trick applied to the girl's jump-rope Freddy rhyme as the spoken word of 'Dream Song'.

This is the only mashup with a substantial difference between the single track and the version on the OST, specifically, that the opening 30 seconds on the stand-alone mashup are the last 30 seconds in the longform mix, which is how I originally arranged it.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Back In Nightmares.mp3

Tuesday Knight 'Nightmare' v Huey Lewis & The News 'Back In Time'; Written by Tuesday Knight, Johnny Colla, Sean Hooper, Chris Hayes, Huey Lewis; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) CBS 1987, Chrysalis 1985

Ok, this is where things start to get confused. I was making this to go in the Dokken v Back To The Future III mashup that would finish the fight - a rollicking splurge of a mashup to tie together all the previous themes and tropes I'd touched on. Much like this.

Originally, this was going to be just Huey Lewis & The News with the finally verse and chorus of Battery over the top. Then I used a synthetic EQ to highlight Tuesday Knight's voice (rather than trying to isolate the mono which can leave a human voice washed out and tinny), much as I had with Phil Collins.

Having 'Nightmare' available to me, I repeated the guitar-driven bars enough to accommodate the verses and lengthened the sax outro to fit the chorus. If you know the song (the theme tune to Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, no less), you'll recognise that I've swapped the choruses and the verses around.

Given the lyrical content of both songs - the need to get back in time and the need to stop running from a nightmare - the mashup felt a good fit for the part in the fight when DeloreLion reappears and gets his fight on.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Transformer Battery.mp3

Metallica 'Battery' v Lion 'The Transformers (Theme)'; written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Anne Bryant, Ford Kinder, Douglas Aldrich, Norman Swan; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Elektra, Scotti Brothers 1986

So let's get our motherfucking fight on. This is the point where you drop to your knees, flick the Dio horns and declare me your king.

Honestly, this was a blast to make and is one of my favourite ups that I've ever mashed.

I spent a lot of time working with both the Metallica and Lion tracks on their own, making different arrangements with the drums, with the lead guitar lines, looping a few things (the tapping string run from the Lion instrumental includes the shortest loop I think I've ever made - literally two beats looped eight times to lengthen it) and measuring up the cuts to the nearest dot of their respective sine waves.

Now, your average slice of '80s music is in a slightly fast mid-tempo. Lots of what I've been working with has a bar last around 1.1 seconds. Early Slayer and Metallica have bars of about 0.6 seconds. Fast as you like. So the Transformers piece is sped up by about 27% to fit. Which just makes it sound awesome. Listening to that main riff makes you realise that beneath the big hair, spandex and a song about toys that fight an intergalactic war is a real metal-core track. It sounds like Prong to me.

Once the tempos matched (never as straight forward as you hope), it was just a case of arrangement. Which took a lot of trial and error to get the best out of, seeing as I had so much to work with. My favourite bits are still the bump-down changes at the end of the first and second passages. Hearing James Hetfield sing the third verse over the bare drums makes me think of an up-tempo R&B gig in '60s New York. 

Also, Lars Ulrich's little drum fill before the second half of the third verse is in there as a nod to Metallica fans just to show I pretty much know Battery note-for-note.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Tiger Back.mp3

Alan Silvestri 'Back To The Future (Overture)' v Survivor 'Eye Of The Tiger'; Written by Alan Silvestri, Frankie Sullivan, Jim Peterik; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) MCA 1985, Scotti Brothers 1982

Forgive me if I seemed a little full of myself about that last mashup, champ. This is the bit where all my self doubt floods back in and washes me out to sea.

This was one of the first mashups begun for the fight, on that same night I took Silvestri's overture apart for Prime Nightmare Future, but was the very last one finished.

Having previously burned myself by putting work out too early, I gave myself as much time as possible to get the acapella lined up how I wanted it (which has always been the toughest part of mashups for me). I must have adjusted and replayed this thing 50 times over. What you hear here is the closest I'd got to what I wanted when my time was up. Certainly, Mrs IronicHide couldn't take it any more. I don't think I'll ever be happy with it and you mustn't be nice to me about it.

Additional note: The first part of the overture is pitch-shifted up to G to stay in tune, as is the guitar part at the end from Survivor.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Scary Future III.mp3

Dokken 'Mr Scary' v Alan Silvestri 'Back To The Future III' (Including sample from The Transformers television bumper); Written by George Lynch, Jeff Pilsen, Alan Silvestri; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) Elektra 1987, Varese Sarabande 1990, Hasbro 1984

Ok, little confession, I was trying to use Dokken's 'Dream Warriors' (the theme tune to A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors) but couldn't get it to work. Mr Scary is off the same album, is an instrumental and, well, squirt, the name still fits what I'm trying to do.

One of my clearest childhood memories in a cinema was seeing Back To The Future Pt II. This is long before the internet ruined movie surprises and social skills. The moment that - Spoiler! - Doc flashed back in time I thought something was wrong. Surely there isn't enough space left in the movie to resolve this? Then the guy from Western Union shows up. Okay. Things are sliding away from me, here, I don't know what's going on. Then Marty confronts 1955 Doc, who passes out. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? The film throws up the TBC card and it's like Empire Strikes Back again. Which, cool as it may be in retrospect, really puts a kid in a sulk, no matter how many sundaes he eats afterward. The saving grace for BTTF2 is that we get a trailer at the end of the movie - which I thought was neat back then - and Alan Silvestri's score over the images of Hill Valley being built, horses pulling the Delorean. Good times.

As soon as I was allowed in on the script for the fight I suggested that bringing together Back To The Future and Nightmare On Elm Street demanded sequels. It / I also demanded some twists that were left out. And, as soon as I knew we were going for the cliffhanger ending, I broke out Silvestri's score.

In what is an oddity for me, I slowed down the faster of the two tracks being used to fit the other. Normally, I'd always choose to speed up and make the track as (mercifully) short as possible. This way though you really get to appreciate what a metronome Dokken drummer Mick Brown is. Listen to that double-bass drum work.

Now, bugger off, I'm watching Back To The Future Pt II.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bad March - Michael Jackson v John Williams

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMichael Jackson 'Bad' v John Williams 'The Imperial March' v Michael Jackson 'Bad (Pepsi version)' (Including samples from Rupert And The Frog Song)

Written by Michael Jackson, John Williams

Arranged by IronicHide

(c) Epic 1987, Sony 1980 (Family Home Entertainment 1994)

The Cola Wars - everybody took that literally at ZooFights. I didn't.

It was the '80s. Space travel, a walking survival suit, a war (the non-definitive article). What was I supposed to think?

Don't tell me Star Wars is 1977, asshat. The Imperial March doesn't crop up until Empire Strikes Back, making it perfectly within range for an '80s-themed fictional animal barbarism online art project.

Oh? You wanted my debut album and don't care? Check out what's available here, then. No hard feelings. Asshat.

The idea struck me while walking down the street in Willesden. I could hear those very last two notes - the brass baritone semi-tone drop with "Who's bad?" over the top. A few days later I was looking up at the sky (the prettiest bit of Willesden) and tried humming that chromatic bassline to Bad with the March in my head.

A few minutes later I tried it in the audio editor. It worked first time. Within an hour I had a solid minute of music that I enjoyed listening to.

It's a great pleasure when a mashup is doing well from the start and contains two pieces of music neither of which you begrudge listening to. Regularly, I'll be working with a song because it will work, not because it's a favourite of mine, and working with another that I had previously enjoyed listening to until having to study minute and repetitive snatches of it for several hours.

While I have many songs available to me to reflect Crustal Pep Simian, the monkey combatant of the Cola Wars, it was very much his sponsorship by PepCo Inc that I wanted to bring out in the mashup.

And while there are many pop songs associated with Pepsi adverts in the 1980s, the fact that John Landis set the King of Pop's hair alight during the making of the Bad adverts has ossified it in my consciousness as a high point in 1980s culture. I should add it was a mistake before Landis sues me. Go, watch American Werewolf In London, it's great fun.

So, technical details. John William's March is sped up to fit, has the quiet string section chopped out and eight bars of the first phase are sampled and repeated (at 0:42) to match the chorus to Bad.

The whole piece has had its pitch shifted from F to E. Funny, working out how to play it on my guitar I always play it in F#. Also, Bad is in D#, not E.

However, the final phase (coming in at 1:32) is therefore significantly faster than Bad which was, in turn, sped up to match it. Though several other segues were tried, reversing Bad for four bars (seven notes, then one note, four times) worked best and was a call-back to the first mashup I constructed for Croak (and ZooFights). Or was I actually foreshadowing this work two months ago? Only I know and I'm quite partial to thinking of myself as an overlooked and brooding genius.

As for the ending, I threw that in as a joke for an early work-in-progress but the Major (he who what runs ZooFights) liked it, so kept it. Out of personal preference I replaced 'It's cool' from the Pepsi version of the song to the original 'Who's bad?'.

Just in case Darth Vader's Theme was not a strong enough analogy for New Croak - a vicious frog made of goop that had been spinning round the galaxy in a life-sustaining robo-kimono - I bookended the mashup with some froggy sounds snatched from Rupert And The Frog Song (just after Rupert discovers the magic amphibian grotto which also has cats in it for no reason). I nearly used Jizzlobber by Faith No More instead, which I have a better recording of, but the decision was made to keep everything '80s. Let's hope Paul McCartney doesn't sue me. Don't listen to The Girl Is Mine, it's atrocious pap.