Donkey Kong Country 2 – “Stickerbrush Symphony” (David Wise)February 18, 2010
Out of all the tracks from Donkey Kong Country 2 (1995), “Stickerbrush Symphony” has to be my favorite. The entire game had such a great soundtrack, but “Stickerbrush Symphony” stands out for its invocation of an idyllic lazy summer afternoon: eating blackberries beneath pure white clouds drifting against a sky that’s deep blue. At the same time, the bramble fields in the game are dead – there are no berries here to eat, just flying hornets and spikes (or if there are berries, Diddy and Dixie aren’t interested in them). For me too there is a sense of nostalgia – not only for the simpler times of lazy summer days but also the days I worked to earn money for this game when it first came out – Donkey Kong Country 2 was really the first videogame I purchased with my own money, and this was back when the $65 a cartridge cost could get you a lot more than it does today…
This theme is built around several simple melodies that are woven together to create a very rich, bubbly texture like blackberry champagne. The combination of instruments – sax, pianos, trumpet, strings, among others – builds a great atmosphere and sense of depth. Instruments are introduced one at a time, each playing a new part of the theme, with the piece really developing around 1:08 with the addition of a drumline and 1:28 with piano. The trumpet and sax run a nice duet throughout the entire piece, really coming together at the end of the loop. Again, another classic from David Wise.
There have been several remixes to this song, the most notable being Michiko Naruke’s (Wild Arms, The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road) rendition from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It’s a pretty good remix, but I feel it misses the feeling the slower beat of the original possesses. Protricity has a techno mix, “Brambles in the Breeze”, that is decent, and even uses chiptunes. For a more depressing yet majestic version, there’s Radiowar’s “Lanterns“. Blue Magic’s “The Delay“, which combines “Stickerbrush Symphony” and “Hothead Bop” is the remix most worth the listen – it also feels like it came straight out of Metroid Prime 2.