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Castlevania – “Stalker – Stage 2” (arr. Arthur Chapman)

June 5, 2010

Here’s an old remix of an underappreciated track from Castlevania – “Stalker”, the stage 2 theme. The track is largely ignored because it is a more subdued theme that is bookended by the intense “Vampire Killer” and the memorable “Wicked Child” – in short, it simply does not have the ‘oompf’ of the other songs (that and maybe the background was just too brown). At the same time, “Stalker” has often been integrated into “Vampire Killer” remixes (most notably the Dracula X: Rondo of Blood version). However, its best rendition is “Stalker – Stage 2” by Arthur Chapman from the Castlevania Dungeon (THE source for Castlevania information!). The original is by Kuniyo Yamashita and has some excellent atmosphere, particularly form the bass, steady, staticky and tinny beat of the drums, and spacey square wave that holds a melody which never quite seems to resolve.

Castlevania – “Stalker – Stage 2” (arr. Arthur Chapman)

Arthur Chapman’s rendition begins with a piano that slowly and ominously paces its way through the underlying notes of the theme, methodically ticking away as it follows its victim. Chapman then adds some excellent transitions, first a triangle signaling the bongoes (it’s like beatnicks from hell – bongoes automatically make a song cooler, but creepy bongoes takes the cake) and second a whirligig marking the introduction of the guitar. It’s not until 44 seconds in that we actually begin to hear the main theme played on that guitar, which sounds like a slasher hiding in the shadows, watching your every move. When we finally see the choral line, it’s particularly creepy and matches the square wave of the original. Later on, at 1:21, we hear a short bar from “Heart of Fire” signalling the full-on guitar section that does not let up until 2:19 when the track begins to wrap up. Chapman probably could have done something a bit more interesting with the ending instead of a fade-out though, but it’s a wonderful take on a usually ignored song. A wonderful and well-deserved re-imagining of the original.

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