Saturday, February 12, 2011

Song of the Week 31.5: 'Legend of the Snake 2: Snake vs. Dragon' by Reuben Kee

Okay, so this is pretty much a continuation of last week's review (a.k.a: Song of the Week 30.5). This track is still by Reuben Kee, and was originally going to be a remake of the original 'Legend of the Snake' (which was what I ended up reviewing a week ago). So here's 'The Legend of the Snake 2: Snake vs. Dragon'.

Like the first version of this piece, Reuben Kee started out with a soft piano solo. However, a couple of the major differences are the fludity of the piece, the differences in overall dynamics, and the increase in notes being played simultaneously. The other version started out with just the treble notes playing and the bass notes not coming in until way later, as I recall. Dynamics are usually a must when dealing with a solo, so it's great to hear these long crescendos every couple seconds or so. The major dynamic differences being heard are around 0:11, 0:16, and especially at around 0:19. The solo dies down a little bit at 0:23-ending this solo. Once it comes back in a second later, there's a small but significant harmony coming off of a low string section. There are then three more major crescendos; there appear to be at around 0:27, 0:31, and one of the biggest ones heard thus far at 0:33. The piano retires from the melody at 0:46, but instead quickens into eighth notes to back up the next participant for the melody: the flute. This next section certainly has a dramatic feeling to it; there are many ritardandos throughout that will not only add length but add emotion. At 1:10 the flute departs, leaving the piano and strings to fill in some empty gaps before moving on to the next section. At 1:23 a buildup will begin to play, and then the main theme that was played throughout the other version of this song will begin. As for the instrument that plays it, it's still a mystery to me. I'm leaning towards a banjo, maybe. Either way, it creates a very exotic feel as it plays the melody quite slow. The strings and other various background effects help create a good amount of atmosphere as well. However, it doesn't last very long, for at 1:38 that banjo-like instrument ceases it's playing and a newer section is created. It starts out with a small amount of percussion hits at 1:39, and with a hit of the chimes at 1:43, the melody restarts. This time it's played slightly faster, and is taken over by the brass section. With the brass playing this, it almost makes the melody sound more like a fanfare. The percussion really stands out here as well, for a ton of various hits can be heard everywhere. Oh, and the strings have a fantastic harmony going on also. This entire fanfare section lasts for quite a while; it doesn't fade out until roughly 2:26. There's a roll from the timpani that will buildup and increase in volume to introduce the next section a couple seconds after the fanfare goes away. The melody is taken over by a blend of instrumentation (mainly the banjo-like instrument is playing, with a little bit of piano mixed in there). This section, like the section at 0:46, doesn't last very long. At 2:41 though, the next section is introduced. The strings are playing rampantly, the percussion is driving with madness, and it turns out that this is only the epic introduction of what is to come. At 2:52, it gets even more insane when not only the percussion goes slightly faster, but when the choir comes in to add an enormous amount of awesomeness into the scene. This sadly doesn't last for very long either, because with a short shout from the choir at 3:02, the song peacefully calms down with that ethnic flute from the other version of this track. A couple brief hits from the percussion come in once in a while, and there are even some electronic elements added in there to create a nice blend with this mainly-orchestral piece of music. Very low strings will begin to play at 3:23 once the percussion has gone through many hits during the last fifteen seconds or so. Actually, it continues to play with the strings, and sounds even more powerful than before. Higher strings will start to play a little faster than everything else going on, and the percussion will go back to its rapid and upbeat playing from 2:52. It turns out that this was one massive buildup. Who knew? The entire transition here was great, as it completely disguised itself from its actual purpose. The melody plays here again, although it's a different theme than the previous ones. That strange, unknown instrument from the other version comes back for an encore appearance. The strings will eventually join it at 4:00, not only making the melody sound a little more complete but making it sound better overall. At 4:12 the melody changes back to the reoccurring theme that has played in both versions. It's played by the flute again, and the piano lightly plays some chords in the background. The choir and strings are also heard as well. At 4:23 the flute leaves the melody the brass which makes the melody back into a fanfare. It sounds a little more dramatic this time around, for not only is it playing slower but the piano is playing numerous runs up and down the scale, and the choir just makes everything sound a little more powerful. At 4:37 the percussion starts driving again, and the brass will start to conclude the song. A very low note hit from the choir will begin the end, and once the percussion does a few more hits the song is over.

Pros: The overall instrumentation was pretty impressive. The fact that a couple electronic elements were added in for various effects was great, as it created a superb blend for the song. The piano solo for this version was way better this time around, as it had more atmosphere, fluidity, and also a dramatic sound to it. The exotic instruments were a nice touch when they returned for this version, and it was good that they didn't control the majority of the song like the last version did. The choir was excellent, and the transitions into each section were satisfactory.

Cons: Sometimes the transitions and buildups were a little too long, and the main sections were usually a little too short. It could've been better if the lengths of these two parts of the song were reversed. The random outbursts of percussion hits were a little unnecessary, but at least there weren't as much in this version.

Overall: Reuben Kee had improved a lot since his first version was posted on OCR. It's a great orchestral piece to listen to, with a lot of variety to keep someone's interest. It has everything from fanfares to exotic atmospheres. Excellent piece of music to listen to.

Rating: 9.4/10

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