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Thursday, 30 June 2011

ZooFights Round One bonus stuff and things

Oh, there you are. Excuse me while I tidy up. Make yourself comfortable. There's a lot to wrap up.

If you're here about the ZooFights Round One bonus material, grab a drink and read on.

If you're here about the IronicHide debut album (under construction), check my Soundcloud account.

Pet Shop Boys 'Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)' v Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing'
Written by Chris Lowe, Neil Tennant,  Mark Knopfler, Sting; Arranged by IronicHide; (c)  Polydor 1985, Vertigo 1984

To be honest, I never thought this would work. I knew I wanted to use the Pet Shop Boys. Money For Nothing was on the radio that morning. There's no way two such staple hits of the decade would go together. I abandoned the idea as a fancy not to tease myself with.
Then I isolated Dire Straits' guitar line. Speeding up the Pet Shop Boys by about 10% to match didn't sound too terrible. This was a goer.
Isolating the guitar also brought out Sting's voice toward the end of Money For Nothing, which worked not just as a background harmony but as audio masking tape to cover some of the cuts. It also worked because Neil Tennant's voice was buried so quietly in the mix of Opportunities compared to the Dire Straits song and this allowed me more freedom to reset the levels myself.
And may whatever deity bless the Pet Shop Boys for the bd'm-bd'm-bam they use a couple of times throughout Opportunities. That covered a few gaps in a pinch.
Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko speech from Wall Street was slowed by 20%, echoed twice, with each running through a different stereo channel. In case you were wondering.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Four Double Dragon Men Weighs A Ton.mp3

Kazunaka Yamane 'Opening (Double Dragon)' v Metallica 'The Four Horsemen' v Public Enemy 'Miuzi Weighs A Ton' (Including samples from Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn)
Written by Kazunaka Yamane, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Dave Mustaine, Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, Hank Shocklee, Aretha Franklin, J Cameron, J Zachary, Kurtis Blow, JB Moore, Herb Rooney; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Apollon 1988, Elektra 1983, Def Jam 1986 (Paramount Pictures, Anchor Bay Entertainment, 1987)

Ah, yes, the Pangolins. This was a bit of a committee job. I had nothing. You come up with a song about scaly anteaters, go on. Think of one. Nope? Me neither.
Those lovely people at ZooFights pointed me toward the music from Double Dragon. Initially, I was using the factory level background track - check it out, it is dubby industrial 20 years ahead of its time - and didn't want to use the main title theme, thinking that the melody was too strong to mix.
The Four Horsemen by Metallica (which was nearly their third use so far by me in ZooFights) was a candidate for the Pangolins' opponents' theme but, these guys were also a quartet and I'd already started to chop it up, so what the hey, chuck them together, see if they rumble.
As I posted this one up early for the ZF team to have a listen to, one of the fight artists contacted me with the idea of some industrial sounds to go with the Pangolins' weaponry and a request to stick some "dope beats" in there.
1980s, industrial weaponry, iconic sounds... Evil Dead II? Groovy. (The squeaks you hear is from Sam Raimi's crew's on-set pet rat, Senor Cojones. I've no idea if pangolins squeak. I hope they do.) And my collection of beats don't come doper than a touch of Chuck and Flav.
By the end, I had to duplicate the last eight bars of Kazunaka Yamane just to fit in Cliff Burton's breakdown and the first squeals of Kirk Hammett.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Hungery.mp3

Duran Duran 'Hungry Like The Wolf' v Spectre General 'Hunger'
Written by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Larry Gillstrom, Barry Gillstrom, Victor Langen, George Criston, Raymond Harvey, Spencer Proffer; Arranged by IronicHide; (c) EMI 1982, Pasha 1987 

This was another track with many options. I didn't want to use two tracks with such similar names but I had a decent acapella and instrumental of Duran Duran to play with. And, yeah, I wanted to use something from the '86 Transformers soundtrack.
The entire thing was made just with isolated bars of instrumentation from Spectre General, sometimes made up of no more than single bass drum hits or echoing guitar chords, with the acapella overlaid. I didn't want to ditch the chorus from Hunger as the words surmised Hippos With An Eating Disorder perfectly.
I couldn't seem to find the right beat to lay the acapella on so brought in Duran Duran's instrumental as a scaffold (I can see it on screen but not hear it in the mix) to line up Simon Le Bon's voice. As it was, I had a go at letting the instrumental play at certain points, liked it, and added it to the chorus parts. 
Seeing as it worked, and given that I wanted to get the chorus from Hungry Like The Wolf in there, I built a minute-long coda with the crescendos from both songs just played together (there's an eeny weeny bit of editing on Hunger at this point to make them fit). Think of it as the prototype for the Blue Air Tonight mashup.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - This Monkey's Brass.mp3

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

This was a blast. I had a Friday night to myself and four different songs with Monkey in the title. The Pixies and the Beastie Boys, however, were in the exact same tempo. To the nanosecond. Go on, listen to them separately: 1.05 seconds to the bar, consistently. (Which was, at first, a worry as the other two songs I had lined up were already acapella tracks, in theory, easier to mix.)
Also, starting the songs at the same time won't sound brilliant but, if you let them play, you'll get the Beasties' chorus play over the lead guitar outro from the Pixies' chorus. That sounds boss. That was the jumping-off point.
Using Black Francis' "If man is five..." bridge had to be done. It means nothing and it is delivered with fury. Like all pop music should be. The trouble is that the Beasties' synth brass opening (which I was using) is not just quiet, it's a thin sound. Boosting the gain and the bass won't make it that much louder or dominant. Ideally, you would be hearing a lot more of it in the breakdown.
From this point, Monkey Gone To Heaven just plays out to the end (with four bars cut from the middle for concision), with a loop of Brass Monkey over the top. The intro was made last, finding my favourite line from the Beasties and stapling it to the first isolated bass bar from the first verse of the Pixies. I found the lead-in bass part later in that same verse and used it as a segue into the chorus and guitar.
All wrapped up by the time Mrs IronicHide got home, tired and emotional. She loved it. Made me play it again and again, whirling her sangria and antacid around the lounge.
Also, yes, this was intended to be PEP Simian's intro music and was written before the fighters were announced but, within two days of voting, it seemed I had already foreshadowed his demise.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Horses Whip.mp3

John Sullivan 'Only Fools And Horses' v Devo 'Whip It' (Including sample from Red Dwarf)
Written by John Sullivan, Gerald Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) BBC 1982, Warner Bros 1980 (BBC 1988)

This was the first of three mashups made in a single day, inspired by the script for the fight between Bull Market, a rampant capitalist bovine, and Murducken, a giant bird with muscular arms and a microwave chest. (The music for her Kitchen Brutalizer infomercial is here.)
Knowing that the beasts would crash through the set of a family sitcom during the battle, I knocked this up as theoretical theme music for the show. John Sullivan's theme from (British sitcom) Only Fools and Horses was inverted and the bass boosted, knocking out the drums. (Yes, Only Fools and Horses may be obscure to a non-Brit audience, I tried using Fresh Prince of Bel Air but it just did not work.)
Whip It by Devo was another track that was always on the cards for abuse during an '80s-themed ZooFights and got picked just because it was the exact same tempo as Sullivan's work. Luckily, it also has long passages of different combinations of drums, bass riff, guitar chords and the main refrain. These were chopped up and placed to fit Sullivan's uninterrupted theme, with a hint that the line 'I say whip it' was a reply to the call 'I say God bless Hooky Street' from Sullivan.

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Express Change.mp3

Kraftwerk 'Trans-Europe Express' v Scorpions 'Wind Of Change'
Written by Ralf Hutter, Florian Schneider, Klaus Meine; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) EMI Kling Klang 1977, Mercury 1990

This was an afterthought, really. There's no way I could have an intro theme for the Berlin Walrus made in time.
Ironically, this is the quickest mashup I have ever made. About 45 minutes. Most tracks I make have dozens of channels of different sounds going on - at last count, one piece of second round music had over 40 channels - this one had five.
Chop up some of Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express, making sure I've got that synthesizer melody used in Planet Rock (to give the piece a bit more '80s authenticity), speed up Wind Of Change by the Scorpions to fit (making sure I have that whistling melody as a counterpoint to the synth that reflects the two conflicting heads of the Walrus), drop the beat out on those awkward bits when the Scorpions change the tempo for a single bar at the end of a phrase, and we are set. Add in the monotone "Trans. Europe. Express" at the end and fade out.
(Actually, I did come back to this three times in the past month and tweak the odd bit here and there.)

Free MP3 download: IronicHide - Rabbit Run.mp3

Chas & Dave 'Rabbit' v Iron Maiden 'Run To The Hills' (Including sample from Watership Down)
Written by Charles Hodges, David Peacock, Steve Harris; Arranged by IronicHide
(c) Rockney 1983, EMI 1982 (Cinema International Corp. 1978)

As soon as I was thrown the idea of Hare Metal I knew that I'd be using Iron Maiden and Rabbit by Chas 'n' Dave. The idea made me laugh. I kept laughing, telling friends about what I was going to do, how silly and fun it would be.
Then, later, I had to make the thing. That was a pain.
Can you keep a secret? I don't like Iron Maiden. Yes, yes, we metal fans must pay our dues, sure. But, really, Slayer rule. Maiden were always a bit silly, to my mind. I like my British metal grim. Fudge Tunnel, Godflesh, etc.
The version of Rabbit used was a live 1981 recording from Hamburg, the only one I've got. Still, the 'rabbit, rabbit, rabbit' scat (there are two different ones in the song, both of which are used here) is good quality and Mick Burt keeps their time exceptionally tight. 
Also, it may not sound like it but the two sections - the intro and the middle-eight - from Run To The Hills used here have been manipulated so that they are in the exact same tempo (theoretically, they are both in the same time signature, if you take the hi-hat, then the muted guitar, to be measuring the beat, respectively).
And, yeah, Watership Down is 1978. Not '80s. Silflay hraka.

So, that just about covers that little lot. Look out, there'll be more of this nonsense in the Losers' League and Round Two.

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