I’m a little lost for words at the moment, you’ll have to forgive me (And the inherent irony in that as well.) This review is not only a doozy in size, it’s also massive in content as well. I’m not over exaggerating as some journalists might, it’s really big. One could almost say it’s as big as a horde of well stashed bananas. Donkey Kong 2: Serious Monkey Business is a bunch of tracks that did not go bad on the vine.
Oh, and word to the wise, please try to contain your laughter at the banana puns, because there is going to be a lot of them. I’ve got a keyboard and I’m not afraid to use it, I’m downright punny with the thing!
DKC2: Serious Monkey Business is a three disc set, with over 35 songs written by a mass of over 40 writers! Holy hell! I haven’t even touched the content yet and already this is starting to sound promising, and the pièce de résistance — the cherry on top of this banana split — is that the album features David Wise, Eveline Novakovic, Robin Beanland, and Grant Kirkhope, all either former and current composers for Rare, who made the entire Donkey Kong Country series!
I asked David Wise what he thought about OC ReMix, and he had this to say:
“I always enjoy listening to and working with the OC ReMix teams. It brings a new and different perspective to the music.”
Now that you’ve heard me babble and sing my praises, let’s really peel open this wondrous cavalcade of diddies and see what we’ve gotten ourselves into, hmm?
Disc 1 really opens with a nice, bombastic Orchestral/Electronic number (Sturm und Kong (K. Rool Returns by DJPretzel) that’s really setting the tone for what you’re going to get here; Well mixed, masterly crafted and creative tracks that really stay faithful to their origins, like Rare Respite (Jib Jig) which is a utter joy to listen to, or Token Up (Token Tango) which brings your nostalgia back in hot, feverish flashes that you’re going to enjoy, and let me just say that the guitar work here is spot on.
Are you looking to take things slow, mellow out to something really spectacular? Beneath the Canopy (Forest Interlude) has you covered with twin guitars backed by a nice touch of reverb and a little delay, and a slow, melodic background that just sits right on top of it. It really reminds me of a Dream Theater ballad with a touch of Gary Jules’ Mad World to tie things up in the end with a subtle and beautiful piano bit.
I’m absolutely surprised by the first disc! No lackluster efforts on the part of the writers and composers, the exception being that some of these songs just aren’t my bag, which in no way reflects badly on their quality, some people just like different things. Nothing’s inherently bad in the music.
Unless we’re talking about U2. then yes, I’ll be happy to make the exception.
And with that, we move on to the Disc 2. I must say, so far, I’m finding this monolith of monkey business to be quite a‑peeling. Oh, I still have more bad puns, you’re not out of my crosshairs yet.
DISC 2 & 3
The second and third disc… This is where things start to really, really get good. Roller Disco (Disco Train) kicks this thing off and, I have to tell you, I thought it was really well done. Not my thing, but it’s really representative of something you’d hear in a packed rave, and that’s a thing I’ve come to appreciate as a studio engineer of sorts because it’s terribly hard to do right. Even if I don’t like it, I can sure as hell appreciate the effort and thought put into it. There’s quite a bit of songs in this collection that relish in their rave roots, like Club Klubba (Klubba’s Reveille), or Dance of the Zinger (Flight of the Zinger) for starters. Give these cats a shout, they deserve some well due praise.
Speaking of fantastic engineering and individuals who are deserving of praise, if you like the heaviest of the heavy, the metalest of metal — and I certainly do — you need This Chase Is Haunted (Haunted Chase), by none other than Prince of Darkness himself, Tony Dickinson. I have, in my periphery, seen him pop up very rarely, but when he does, watch out. He is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe me? Stop reading, type in Prancing Dad on Google, and prepare yourself for some Devin Townsend-esque ridiculousness. If that’s not your thing, then check out Pickin’ Out the Fleas (Swanky’s Swing). This song, I swear, sounds like it was written by Nuno Bettencourt himself, it’s very reminiscent of the material on the Extreme album “Pornograffitti.” That pretty much sums up what it sounds like; Pornographic art for the ears.
Let’s tone things down for a second and relax. The coffee is getting to me, and it’s late, which is really the proper setting for some lovely relaxation music. What? I don’t always like life in the fast lane, there is only so many shows to attend, only so many parties to be had.
Swamp Gases (Bayou Boogie) is a real trip, and it’s something you might find me listening to on a long drive, it’s deep pulsing beats and theremin-like leads are trance inducing, much like Dead Raggening (Bad Bird Rag). It has that overall quality of subtly that’s required to do this kind of music, and I’d say it was the prize winning attribute that led to the originally soundtrack being so fantastic, earning it the cult following it has. This kind of stuff never gets boring, which is a bonus in my book. Speaking of bonus’, Bonus Bop (Token Tango, Bonus Lose, Bonus Win) is a real treat, and by treat, I mean a whole swing band effortlessly tearing things up! The University of the Arts “Z” Big Band deserves a lot of praise here, I mean, I wish I really had more to say other than bravo, because it really does not do it justice.
This, my friends, is where we part ways. There was so much I wanted to say coming into this, but theory doesn’t always pan out when it comes to putting it in action, a sad reality, but happily not all is lost. There were a lot hits in this collection, with a fair share of miss’, but the only reason they miss is because they just aren’t my cup of tea, in reality, the entire collection is incredibly well written and well produced. There’s something here for anybody with a love for music and Donkey Kong Country, and that’s the crowning achievement in my book.
You can download the whole she-bang over at OC ReMix for free! This shit is bananas. B‑A-N-A-N-A‑S.
Submerged in Ambiance by Justin Spaulding
Life in the Mines by the Super Guitar Bros
Gangplank Galleon by the Super Guitar Bros