Music of the Whenever – Stickerbrush Symphony

Once in a while, a piece of music comes along that is so simple, yet so moving. Even more rarely, music can take me back to a simpler time. A time when I didn’t have to worry about finding a job or getting a degree. A time when, for some unknown reason, I kept going back to this incredibly difficult level on a rented copy of a certain video game.

My friends, this is that piece of music. Easily the best song in any platformer I have ever played, or even the best song in any game I’ve ever played, this is Donkey Kong Country 2’s Stickerbrush Symphony.

Dear. God.

That’s all I could really say about this song when I remembered what this song was. If you ever needed any proof about video games (or even just the parts of the whole) being an art, look no farther.

As much as I loved this song as a kid, I’ve developed a better ‘ear’ for music, so to speak. Granted, my musical terminology is still awful, but let’s give it a shot. I recommend you put this on repeat (by downloading it as an MP3 or with a Youtube repeating site) while you read this. It really adds to the experience.

The first few notes you hear, the underlying beat of the song, really make this piece for me. This is going to be a terrible analogy, but it’s like listening to a rhythmic series of water drops. There’s a calming effect there and, given the level it’s present in, that could be the purpose.

I also love how the music builds from those few notes accompanied by some background notes to, well, a symphony. No matter how ‘large’ the song gets, you can distinctly hear the rhythmic ‘droplets of water’ underlying everything. This, in my opinion anyway, gives it a very hypnotic and meditative undertone.

Would you believe this is in one of the last levels of the game? I certainly wouldn’t. There’s a sense of calm and beauty about it that, honestly, makes you think it’d be hidden in a far-off, mystical place. That’s a good way to describe the song as a whole, really. Far-off, mystical, hypnotic.

I’m going to go ahead and say that, yes, this is the greatest theme I have ever heard. People who know me know that this isn’t an easy choice for me, considering that I’m holding it against the soundtrack of Chrono Trigger and the Touhou series. As much as I love those games, nothing has ever brought about this sort of calming effect or sense of wonderment and nostalgia.

Speaking of nostalgia, I think the entire Donkey Kong Country series could use a look back…

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2 Responses to Music of the Whenever – Stickerbrush Symphony

  1. Fragile says:

    Well Donkey Kong Country is another game I sort of missed the first time around. I used to play both the first and second game at my cousins’ house, but never had it at home. Until recently, at least, when I got the first one for the Wii’s virtual console. I’ve been playing it with my sister and we’re both terrible at it. Even with the 50-lives cheat we still have trouble just getting to the next save point. Oh, sorry, aside from the point.

    This really is a pretty good theme, particularly for the time period. It really is impressive how even older games can hold up against modern games in all terms if they were made well and this song is a perfect example. I don’t really have any nostalgia for this song, personally, and there are definitely other songs out there I like better but this is still a remarkable piece. Maybe I ought to see if there are any good remixes out there…

  2. Man, I didn’t even /know/ there was a 50 life cheat. I’ve been farming in Jungle… Hijinks? The first level. And yeah, DKC is kinda brutal. The level this is from, if memory serves me correctly, is especially brutal…

    I have bits and pieces of nostalgia from it. I (somehow) never owned the 2nd game – had one and three, but not two. Weird. – so my only REAL memories are from a cousin’s house and a rental copy.

    Totally agreed about how amazing the older music is. I mean, yeah. We’ve gone a long way from beeps and boops, but… I’m gonna say that the 16-bit era was the most polished overall. Yeah, yeah, we have these huge orchestral pieces now, but… It’s like with Touhou music, really. The synthesized, ‘artificial’ quality makes it work! It’s something different from all that super-ambient stuff we have now. It’s refreshing.

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