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  1. As with most of Michael's more experimental tracks, this one takes some concentration to get into. I'm a big fan of interesting sound design, and that's just as well because that's about all we get here. It's all synth work, no groove or beat, and no traditional arrangement structure either. For the first 2:13 the source is entirely unrecognisable, until you get the first real run-through of the Requiem of Spirit, and suddenly the stuttered, unfinished melodies for the first 2 minutes make a bit more sense. Source usage is thin on the surface, but digging deeper, there's enough there. I suppose the question really is: is the sound design good enough to carry the piece, given the unconventional nature and nebulous source usage? I think so. That's not to say I wholly enjoyed the piece from a listener's perspective. More that I appreciated it from a producer's one, in that I was able to imagine the processes and effort that went into creating the sounds. This whole line of reasoning sounds rather academic and a little dry, suffice to say I think experimentation ought to be encouraged on OCR, and when one pulls off their intentions in such a way, without it sounding horrible, there's no reason to reject it on grounds that it may be less accessible for a casual listener. Mr Hu always makes us think, and that's got to be a good thing, right? YES
  2. Listened a few times through before refreshing my memory of the original. I think the reharmonisation is very clever, and much more pleasant to listen to than the original. The short duration of the piece fits with a lot of the music you find on LoFi streams - looping a couple of times before fading out for the next one - so is thematic in that sense, however there could have been more adaptation and expansion on the theme. The ending is particularly weak, fizzling out without any sort of satisfying conclusion. Despite seeming simple on first listen, I think LoFi production is actually a fine art to get something sounding cohesive and believable. You've not quite got everything in the right space with this one - the piano and beats are very forward in the mix, with some heavy reverb on the shakers putting them in the back. There's some token crackle FX in there as well, and some decent samples for emphasis. I enjoy the softness of the piano next to the grit of the snare, even if the snare is on the loud side. Considering both arrangement and production have their pros and cons, I suppose this one comes down to overall feel. Coming away from this one, I find I enjoyed the track and I think it deserves the benefit of the doubt, largely on the strength of the initial idea and presentation. YES
  3. Well, I wasn't a fan of the Strauss intro - far too overt usage, but then good on you for clueing us in to the Sun of Nothing usage, because chances are low any of us are familiar enough with that song to make the connection. Imagine if someone stuck a minute's worth of Stairway to Heaven in the middle of their track... it's not gonna fly unfortunately, so thanks for pointing out the reference material, however obscure it may be. If you do revisit this one, could you do something about the oscillating panning on the strings and subsequent synth from 1:45-2:39 and then 2:58-3:34? It's so distracting having them move around like that - better to keep them in one place, or drastically reduce the amount of movement. Would love this one to get on the site in some form, but it'll need a major rework. Great track and concept, though! NO
  4. Thanks for the reference tracks - I listened to T-Square - TRUTH, and can definitely hear the influence. So cool to hear Stickerbush done in this style, it's one of my favourite pieces of VGM, and you've done something new with it that sounds great. Couple of things could be improved with the mixing - that snare is quite aggressive, particularly noticeable in the first minute or so of the track. Once you hear it, it's kinda distracting. The bell from 0:30 is also very faint and could stand to be brought up a little. Love the introduction of the sax and lead guitar, they work wonders together. Perhaps an extra tribute to David Wise, who also plays the saxophone? Would be amazing to hear the sax played live... Nice ritardando to finish. Really enjoyed this one, thanks! YES
  5. Initial groove could be better; the hats sound a bit stiff. Sound design is fairly basic, but it's fitting for the source material, and it allows the guitar to be more of a highlight, as it's played superbly. The time signature change is cool at 0:40, and there are plenty of new ideas throughout the arrangement to keep things fresh. The standout section is most definitely the guitar solo from about 1:52. It works really nicely with the lead synth. I enjoyed the synth solo as well, even if the transition into it was a bit clunky. Great handoff to the guitar at 3:08, then some layering with the synth for the final chorus and big finish. No major complaints with this one. It doesn't quite bring the funk as much as I'd like, but there's more than enough to enjoy here, and it's a brilliant expansion on the source. YES
  6. Beautiful source tune, and I love how you've taken it into a more industrial, sci-fi, almost space-like direction with the big blows and synth choices. That modulated saw-like sound at 0:55 is great. Full of atmosphere. The slow-burning intro builds beautifully, and just as the pads are filling out the soundscape and we feel like the track is above to go somewhere, it all drops out and there's about 3 minutes of what I'd call "faffing about" before the track picks up again. I've a big issue with how empty the middle section sounds. It's very thin in terms of soundscape, and also there isn't much going on to hold my interest for such a long time. Those pads/strings that came in at 1:27 played what sounded like half a chord progression, then left us hanging for 3 minutes before the natural continuation of that build is allowed to return. To illustrate my point best, I've hastily cut your track up to connect the section from about 1:40 with that of 4:29 (with an improvised transition), and it sounds incredible. Have a listen: Gaspode - Underwater Caves [DarkSim Edit].mp3 I'd suggest doing something similar and cutting out a lot of unnecessary bloat from the middle of your track. 6.5 minutes is a long time to keep the listener engaged, and I don't feel there's enough in there at the moment to do so. I understand it's a tough decision to cut out hours of work, but often it's the best way to ensure that what's left is of the highest standard. NO (resubmit!) P.S. I love the heartbeat and breathing effects in the transitions. If you do end up doing something similar to my edit, make sure those are slightly different from each other (I copied an existing one).
  7. Hearing this for the first time, and I'm in agreement with Joe here. It's a pretty uninspired arrangement, but there are differences in the choruses, the build to the second drop is better, and production is excellent. It's loud, but everything is crystal clear. Source is all over it. It's hard not to be swayed by the greatness we've come to expect from bLiNd, but even an off-form track from Jordan is still above our standards. Like Joe said, if this was a newcomer we'd all be in awe of the skills on show. Regardless of how much better it could be from the artist, it's gotta be a pass. YES
  8. Ahh, I'm really glad you've given this one another pass, but unfortunately I think it's going in the wrong direction. The vocals are now really buried in the mix, and the bass and backing is overpowering them. There's also some kind of filtering on the vocals that's giving them a subtle walkie-talkie effect. I don't know if that's intentional but they're missing a lot of body, which doesn't help them be the most prominent thing in the mix (which they should be). The guitar riff in the left ear from around 0:47 is now almost completely inaudible, and although the crackle has been removed, it's still far too busy and the vocals are suffering because of it. Don't try and do too much - you could strip away one or two backing elements and it would sound a lot more focussed, and it would also help the vocals fit in better because they're not competing with as much. I still really like this, but it's not there yet. NO (resubmit)
  9. I'm impressed how you've managed to flesh out the source so well with a melody that, listening to the source afterwards, I could hear in my head. It feels like a very natural expansion on the theme, and works perfectly in the rock/metal style. Mixing is decent, the rhythm guitars have a nice chunky feel to them, and the shrill, distorted lead has been given some generous reverb so that it's not too grating. The drumkit lacks a little humanisation, but it's sequenced very well with lots of variety. Arrangement works well, there are sufficient breaks and energetic sections, and I like that outro a lot - an idea perhaps tacked onto the end that you came up with too late to work it in earlier. Could have made a moody breakdown section, or even an intro, but it works as an ending as well. YES
  10. That melody from 0:07-0:12 has an Arabian feel, a little nod to Oil Ocean I guess, from the source. It's a tidy package with very cohesive sound design which I like, even if it might sound a little dated. The SFX were unexpected, but they work for the style (putting a Boo cackle from Mario in a Sonic mix - how dare you!). Mixing feels good, although again there's a retro feel to it that comes from the synths and it lacks some of the complexity and richness of modern EDM. On the issue of repetition, I think that while the percentage may be approaching a third of the track, it doesn't feel overly repetitive, and given that it says what it needs to say and doesn't beat about the bush for too long, I'm happy. YES
  11. Allow me to sign off on this one - it's great! Love the sound design throughout, particularly the minute beginning at 1:54. The stuttering percussion groove sounds great in the time signature (3/4 or 6/8?), and the mix sounds full of feeling and atmosphere. After that, we get a super slow section (arguably too slow, as I thought the track had ended), before a big finale. Very little to critique here; a strong submission! Happy New Year! YES
  12. This is a really creative expansion on the Winner theme, using tons of the source beyond the 'fanfare' part that everyone knows. I definitely got the 'Epic Rap Battles of History' feel from it simply from the fact it's a nerdy rap. Nothing wrong with that! I enjoy Chris Turner's freestyles on YouTube, and I'm pretty sure he wrote a few of those rap battles. Perhaps what lets this one down is the fact it's trying to do too much and the mix gets very busy. Whether it's a nerdy rap or not, you want the vocalist to be clear in the mix, and this isn't the case. In addition to that, the whole thing feels like there's some odd reverb on it, lending an unnecessarily muffled quality to it. I can hear some 'lofi' style crackle in there that you could probably lose during the vocals. At 0:26 there's an instrument that sounds exactly like the main plucked one from Still D.R.E., and with the way it's played I'd bet that's your inspiration. Listening to the two tracks side by side though, you can tell the clarity difference is in stark contrast. Yes, Dre's track is professionally produced, but I don't think it's an unfair comparison when emulating the same style. Still D.R.E. is nearly 25 years old, and bedroom producers today can easily achieve a level of production quality approaching a 90s rap track. While the vocals and plucked keys might be forgiven, then you add in a string layer, marimba countermelody, and a guitar riff, which I think is one too many. I love the synth line at 0:54 (again similar to Still D.R.E.), but don't think the instrument at 0:58 that plays it again (bassoon-like synth?) is in the right frequency space. The higher line at 1:11 sounds much better. There's something in the left ear from 1:39-1:49 that I can't make out. Sounds like a synth with a lot of noise on it. Again the lofi crackle is heard in the chorus and I'm not digging its usage. Love the female vocals though! Especially the backing hits, they put me in mind of another Dre track, Fallin Up. What can I say; it's Dre Day on West Coast Classics here in Los Santos... I'm torn on this. On the one hand, it's so creative and fun, and I do love the treatment of the source, but on the other, it's too busy and needs another mixing pass to do the genre and the vocalists justice. If that means losing some of the backing components, then so be it. Even semi-parody nerd rap needs clean production. Would love to hear this one again after some cleaning up! NO (resubmit)
  13. Digging the retro-synth style. Nice cohesive sound palette. The swing on the hi-hats is a bit disconcerting, but it didn't trouble me as much as proph. Once I figured out it was 3/4 it was more natural, but I think a lighter hat sound with some more sizzle and decay on the transient might have worked a little better, with perhaps a looser feel to it. Or play the notes in triplets and then swing it from there. Piano sounds lovely, and it fits right in with the synths. The transition to the 4/4 section at 2:16 is a bit clunky, but it's not easy to smoothly go between signatures. The ride cymbals here sound great - exactly the kind of thing I was suggesting about the hats earlier. Snazzy piano arps in the solo at 2:46 echoing the synth arp in the background. This whole section is golden. Surprised it didn't end at 4:06; we're retreading some ground from the intro, and then some synth noodling to finish. Altogether a really cool take on the Snowman theme, repackaged in a retro aesthetic. Still a couple of points to improve from both arrangement and production sides, however it's more than enough to pass the bar. YES
  14. Listening to the revised version. Cool intro with the filtered chips, bass and FX. Nasty subbass from 0:16 really sets the mood. Love that initial hit at 0:45, there's loads of detail and the sound design you'd expect from a complextro/chipstep/dubstep/whatever the kids call it these days style. I was a little concerned that the subbass would outstay its welcome once the groove kicked in, but thankfully at 1:19 when the main section begins, you switch it out. Great decision, and a fantastic 30 seconds. The Monkey Island theme isn't overtly used here, but it might have been nice to hint at at more strongly. I think fans of the series looking for a remix may be disappointed that we don't hear the theme at least once, however I really like your twist on the melody and how you've made it your own. From 1:49 we get a half-tempo section with tons of ear candy in the off-beats, then it slams back into the groove at 2:21, with another run-through of your new melody line. This section in particular feels overcompressed. It's a loud track, which goes with the genre, but even though the mixing sounds OK, I think you could have been a bit more restrained with the master compression here. Ending is a bit abrupt, but I don't mind it. Cheeky little string plucks reminding us of the harpsichord line from the source. YES
  15. I've listened to this one a good few times now, and although it does have a simplistic quality to it, I can't find anything egregious that would cause me to reject it. The bell sound in the beginning is decent quality, then just as the overtones are getting dissonant, it drops out, which was a good decision. The bass is nice and soft, and the new bell sound is sweeter, if a little loud with some of the resonant frequencies. There's a light lofi-filtering on the reverb if I'm not mistaken, and it gives it a nice little crackly texture in the background. The bass solo is alright, but the sparseness of this part is pretty weak. I'd have liked a little more sizzle in the hats for the groove here, to really sell it. It's alright, but there's definitely room for improvement there. Speaking of the hi-hats as well, I don't think I can hear an open-hat to closed-hat transition in the whole piece. You use open hat cymbal samples, but they're not linked to the closed hat so the kit doesn't sound believable as a single unit. Having the closed-hat sample silence your open-hat sample should be easy to do in your sampler, so look into that in future. It can make your grooves sound so much better as well. After the bass solo, there are some more nice-sounding bells, but is it me, or do they come in a fraction early? On repeat listens, I think it's a trick of the delay on the descending bells preceding them, but listen to the first hits at 1:18 and 1:26. I think I'm going mad... Anyway, we get some more of the bells from the intro and then another go around, before a soothing pad enters at 2:30 for a warming final chorus. Classic jingle bells in the outro fadeout. Would have been nice to hear some more fleshing out of the ideas, but the bare bones of this one are solid. YES
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