A Little Christmas Cheer

While I’ve been been out in New York, I recorded a little Christmas song with my dear friend Jacob. We just wanted to have a little fun and maybe pull something together in time for his Christmas party.

And so, here’s our little rendition of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”

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Rainbow Road

The whole intent of this blog was to actually post songs and snippets of songs. Here’s one that I actually finished about a year ago, but I dusted it off this week to rework the mix a little:

 

I didn’t write this song. Astute listeners may notice that this is actually the soundtrack to Mario Kart 64’s “Rainbow Road” track. It’s the very last race of the game and it’s sort of this epic psychedelic, sentimental piece that closes out the entire game. I decided to make a version of the song for my little brother, Daniel, who was going off to college last year as  a freshman. He said that the Rainbow Road song held a special place in his heart and that it always led him back to comforting thoughts. I thought it’d be a nice thing to send him off to school with.

In case you’re interested, here’s the original:

I wanted to take a pretty straight-forward video game song and redo it with a lot of analog gusto and a healthy amount of cheesiness. For synths I mostly used a trio of Oberheim OB-1, a Minimoog and a Roland SH-101. I had also picked up a Korg Wavestation for pretty cheap around that time and I was just fooling around with it. I think I used that for the pads. The Wavestation is older than the Nintendo 64, so I figured it was sufficiently vintage.

It turns out that it takes a lot of work to do some of that cheesy, over-the-top stuff. Anyway, it was a lot of fun to make, but I was never very happy with the mix. By the time I had piled together all the layers, it seemed dull and lifeless. That actually happens to me a lot. I’ll compare my current version of the song to a very early mix. The early mix is missing a lot of new parts, but it nevertheless feels way more spontaneous and in-your-face. I know I’m overworking the song when that happens.

Anyway, I’ve been subscribing to the British recording magazine Sound on Sound lately and the most recent issue talked about how to go about mixing bass properly. I knew that my Rainbow Road mix was especially disappointing in this area. I wanted the bass to be full and driving, but it actually came out pretty mushy. I read the article and decided to apply some of the concepts to the song. It’s still got lots of room for improvement, but I think I was able to tighten it up a little and give some of the more interesting sounds some room to breathe.

I think it makes a good driving song, though I have observed myself taking corners a little too sharply when I’m playing it in the car at top volume.