EarthBound – “Dreaming on Distant Shores” (Rellik)February 6, 2010
For the end of the Atlanta Art History of Games conference, I felt this piece fits as a good denouement for the entire experience. “Dreaming on Distant Shores” is my favorite EarthBound remix, and one of my favorite tunes. Both the name and the sound conjures so much to the mind, that it’s difficult for me to not evoke romanticized imagery from the game as I think back on it.
“Dreaming on Distant Shores” is a remix of “A Flash of Memory“. The original is fairly minimalistic, with bubblings in the background over a constant midi drone, and Rellik’s rendition really fleshes it out. His piece is a kind of trance electronica, with a reassuring beat and a strong middle section with an evocative cello. It opens with static, suggesting the sound of falling rain, with beatdrops punctuating the rainshower. These resemble the midi trumpets and chorals from the original, and they bubble up within this space to give a sense of expanse. And then there is the steady drumbeat, a sense of trekking through dreamscapes that play so prominently in EarthBound.
There is some nice progression in this song, such as the distortion and electronic warbles added around 2:15, as well as the drum break at 3:24. The song comes together at the end with the addition of the piano at 4:33. These twinkling notes flicker just beyond the field of vision, a sense of something out there at the edge of the dream that can be sensed but not materialized. When the drums leave at 5:40, there is a sense that the Dreamer has reached his destination, or perhaps can go no further – and yet, a few flickerings remain. Who is the dreamer and what is land? I think that the listener becomes this if he or she is absorbed into the song, and for that brief moment catches a glimpse of some strange world.
What I like most about this piece is the way it makes me feel. It’s a great sense of calm that slowly builds over the course of the entire piece where the drumbeat and beatdrops help dissolve stress as a sense of calm gradually seeps. This dream is a place separate from the tensions of the waking world, which drift away like sand on the beach, leaving only prints behind. This, I think, is why I want to share this song because maybe it will help others find music that does this for them.