A few months back, An amazing album was organized and released by VG remixer Hylian Lemon. Along with a few folks from the video game remix, and cover community, they organized an expansive tribute to the music from the often overlooked Game Boy Color game The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages. That album is available now for free download as Essence of Lime.
Essence of Lime is a well put together album of over 40 remixed tracks covering the entire library of music from Oracle of Ages. Hylian Lemon takes the forefront of the album, remixing and contributing to nearly half the songs, which makes sense, as this was originally set to be a solo project. The other half of the album is composed of many other enthusiastic Zelda fans and musicians who, once hearing about the project, jumped on board to be part of it. Essence of Lime coming together in this way gives the album a novel, cohesive feel.
The album kicks off with the orchestral fanfare of title track Essence of Lime by Hylian Lemon. The mood starts out somber and reverent, but quickly fades into a funky adventurer's beat, with great use of sound effects that don't become distracting. Not Bad for a Diva shows Hylian Lemon take a different approach, creating a soothing piano movement that starts washed out, before leading into a slightly more ominous jazzy affair. Moving forward a few tracks, we hear from ProtoDome with one of my favorite tracks on the album, the amazing chiptune styled funk of Past, Present and Future Perfect.We hear vibrant effects and piano swirling together to create an upbeat foot tapping rendition of the well known Zelda field theme.
Bound Across Time is another stand out piece, arranged by Chickenwarlord and Hylian Lemon. The track starts out with a soft lilt of piano, then leads into a driving piano fronted piece that is equal parts catchy and foreboding. With its fading instruments and great piano work, the track really has a distinct feel. But just when you have a grip on it, you are shoved through the ages again and we are met with a comfortable melody of strings which gently lead us to the end of this piece.
At this point it gets tough deciding which tracks to decide to pinpoint in this short review, as many of them are quite good. The tracks are well produced and solid. The arrangements themselves are interesting, and add a new flair to some older Zelda tunes that have seen their fair share of remixes. The website also boasts plenty of great Zelda inspired artwork for the album, including alternate album art and wallpapers. I must admit that I am most partial to the main album art by Maverickk though, He has done a fantastic job capturing the playfulness of the Zelda series in his art, and I think it stands out as some of the best artwork I have yet seen for any album this year.
Back to the music though, we hear from Hylian Lemon again with a worldly piece simply called Really Big Tree. The track combines synths, percussion, and piano into a marching tune across the land, even paying homage to classic Zelda as the song comes to a close, resonating with the sounds of a lone piano. Things don't stay low key for long thanks to the industrial sounds of TheKrow and his arrangement Tombstone Factory which is quickly followed up by Sockpuppet's first of two tracks on the compilation, Ganon's League of Evil, a tension building fusion of violin and metal.
Cart Track Switch Back kicks off with the best track intro on the album, this quickly transitions into the rushed and hunted mood of the main track. Chickenwarlord and Hylian Lemon bring together a ton of ideas for this song, created a varied piece which still transitions smoothly through the environments and textures of the track. DJ Mokram steps in with his track Gimme Some Hearts Fairy!, a moody synth track that shifts around in an increasing panic until the maddening close.
Hylian Lemon teams up again, this time with the prophet to create Eyes in the Deep, an amazing glitched out electronic jazz piece that has a lot of layers, all appropriate to a Zelda game. The trumpet and piano slide drearily along as the percussion and effects add great variety to the piece. As we approach the end of this album, we hear Hylian Lemon going solo again in Endless Eclipse, a track with some great drum work, and an amazing ominous arrangement, continually pushed further to the edge of a great abyss (in a good, Zelda way) by the percussion.
Things take a turn for the unstable in CopiousX's contribution to the album, Horses Eat High, a swirling, psychedelic trashy effect laden rave tune that wavers in and out of consciousness before fading away into the next track. That next track is Enter The Ganon by Dj Mokram and NintenJoe 64, another guitar drenched track, which recreates the intense final battle within the world of Oracle of Ages.
Waves of nostalgia hit us thanks to Sockpuppet, and his track Linking the Legends the genre blending fusion gliding song through a classic Zelda theme. This is another stand out track on the album, and well worth the wait. The finale is an amazing rock epic, Essence of Melon by none other than Girlz Melon. He lays down another one of his well known blistering guitar tracks, paying homage to another classic Zelda tune. Girlz Melon invokes a kind of Hyrulian anthem mood with the tracks marching like drums and crashing cymbals. With a smash of drums and a bit of feedback and this album has come to an end.
I am sad to say that I did not have the chance to listen to this amazing album the moment it appeared online, which is what prompted me to do a review on it now. Hylian Lemon has culled a great stable of musicians to work with, and has created an immense, cohesive album thanks to them, as well as his mastery over several genres and styles. The album was also able to maintain the mood of the game, and the tracks, which is something that can sometimes be lost in rearranging music. Though I may not be as big a fan of the Oracle of Ages game as Hylian Lemon appears to be, this album has definitely made me a bigger fan than I was before. Diving into this sometimes overlooked classic and recreating the amazing soundtrack definitely brings the game into a grander perspective that belies the tiny Gameboy game. Once again, Essence of Lime is available free, so download it, and let the sour sounds of limes and lemons fill your ears.
Also, because I love the artwork for this album so much, here is a picture of the also amazing second disc cover art!