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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.