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DarkSim

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    https://soundcloud.com/darksim

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    2. Maybe; Depends on Circumstances
  • Software - Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
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    darksimmusic

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DarkSim's Achievements

  1. Surprisingly modest mastering for a metal track - I had to turn my volume up a bit to match my usual listening level. Let's start with a colour-coded arrangement breakdown (yes! Fancy!). Sections in the same colour are repeated. At-a-glance, you can see that the arrangement is very conservative, and the track contains 40% repetition. The whole section from 0:12-1:24 is just copy-pasted (a proper copy-paste, no variation in anything) immediately afterwards, followed by a run-through of the B section again with doubled lead guitars, and more urgent drum programming fitting of a climactic ending. Source structure is the same (sans intro/outro and final B section, although the intro and outro use the pre-verse heavily). Performances are great and sound very natural. I'm particularly a fan of the drum programming. I'm not sure if anything was played live, although I'm 100% sure on the copy-paste. The mix is busy, but never crosses the line into pure mud, although it could be cleaner. There are no dynamics to speak of, which is a shame because it starts busy and ends busy, with no respite in the middle. That's the same as the source, which is a point for improvement. I'd like to hear more expansion - a break, a solo - some more original material that stamps your own mark on it. At the moment, this feels like a cover more than anything. Add to that the repetition, and I'm afraid it's a NO
  2. Really enjoyed this! Your 'Through the Castle' remix from 2012 was always a favourite of mine, and it's great to hear how you've matured as an artist over those 10 years. Very fitting that this one is from SMW2 as well. The remix sequel to the game's sequel Sound design is amazing in this one. The 3/4 time signature makes it sound so playful and mischievous, even though it hits hard. Top stuff!
  3. And here I was expecting Belinda Carlisle. Very nice, atmospheric intro. Love the natural sounds of the cello, trumpet and especially that oud! The synth bass was a surprise addition, and the synth percussion certainly raised my eyebrows. There's some lovely interplay between the trumpet and oud round the 1:00-1:20 mark, and then the violin is introduced as well - another fine piece to the ensemble. By this point the percussion is beginning to feel too static, and thankfully there's a break at 2:01. During the break, the cello and violin do a great job of 'bookending' the frequency spectrum for the trumpet to sit in the middle, doing some great soloing. Moving back to the simplified source melody (thanks for the source breakdown!) at 2:46, the synth percussion comes back in, and I'm sorry to say, really kills the mood. I find myself asking why you'd need the synth elements at all - you've got such a cool sound that's established in the intro, and all the natural parts can fill out the soundscape. Not only that, but there is absolutely no variation in that kick-kick-kick-snare pattern for 3 minutes of the entire 4:21 track length. The only variation is the occasional appearance of a very-much-lost-in-the-desert 808 clap! Worst of all, the groove is so straight and metronomic that it kills all the natural flair of the live performances. The droning sidechained synth pad in the background just adds to the soporific effect of the backing. I will say that I do like the synth bass - it's a cool sound that doesn't feel out of place with the other instruments. That said, there's a definite dodgy note at 1:38, which sounds worst on the bass because it's meant to be anchoring the track. You can get away with some funky scales, especially in this style of music, when playing the melody. Not on the bassline though - you want that to be solid. As the track comes to a close, I find myself being slowly anaesthetised by that backing, and there doesn't seem to be a clue that the track is ending. No intensity increase, or decrease - it just stops. Some more focus on arrangement would be worth implementing to the track as a whole, though I appreciate that would be difficult with so many collaborators. Overall it's a difficult one to call because I think there are some amazing performances, and a lot of creativity and effort has clearly gone into this to bring it all together. Unfortunately, it may be a case of 'too many cooks spoil the broth', and the percussion in particular needs a complete overhaul to do justice to the other performances. If you're dead set on having synth percussion and other elements, then take a leaf out of zircon's book and check out The Koto Chill from The World Circuit album, or one of my favourite ethnic-plus-beats bands the Afro-Celt Sound System. Vary the percussion so that it enhances the other elements, not puts them to sleep. I hope you can rework this one and give it some more direction, in addition to the improvements needed to the backing. NO (resubmit)
  4. Well, I've got to applaud your creative ambition here. It's quite a vision to remix so many sources, in such different styles, in the same track. You've almost pulled it off as well, it's just the production significantly holding it back. I don't think there's any point during the whole 6+ minutes where the melody is the most prominent thing in the mix, and that's a problem. The kick sounds really boomy - proph's comments about reducing the fundamental frequency is good advice there. The snare is also wiping out a lot of the low-mids, and the rhythm guitar finishes them off. The choir is so buried in the mix, and especially juxtaposed against those stabs (see proph's screenshot). I don't think I need to go on about it - proph and MW have made some good suggestions. Just make sure each part is clear, well-balanced in the mix, and if anything needs to be cut as a result, don't be afraid to do that either. It's an ambitious project, and might need some things paring back if necessary. Good luck! NO (resubmit)
  5. Whoa, I love me some synthwave, although hang on, there's piano and acoustic guitar? And wubwubwub bass? Very interesting progression going on here that certainly doesn't dwell on anything for too long. You've clearly got some great sound design, but the glaring issue is the muddiness in the mastering, and the whole balance feels completely skewed towards the low-end. Fellas, what happened?! I chucked it into Live, and in 10 seconds the balance sounded way better with this kind of EQ on it. The bassier section from 3 minutes onward needed even more rebalancing (less low, more high), but it was a quick and dirty fix on the master channel. There's a little bump in the mids for clarity of the leads, but this mixing should be done at the channel level, not the master. There are a bunch of layers in the low-mids like the strings and the choir that are almost completely lost. The dubstep-style bass after 3 minutes sounds great, but don't sacrifice the rest of the instrumentation for it - or drop some out to let the bass shine. As for the arrangement, I wasn't too bothered about the "medleyitis" that was creeping in after the 2:31 mark (thanks for timestamping the sources as well, it's a huge help!), although I did feel that perhaps there were 1 too many sources in there. The main Dissidia Heroes theme works so well as a synthwave jam that some sections, particularly 2:31-2:52, felt a little shoe-horned in. I'd definitely have removed the descending arp at 3:22-3:33 as well. Let that bass have its moment! On the whole though, I really dig this track. It's a cool blend of electronic genres with a solid theme that just about anchors the arrangement. The main issue for me is the clarity of parts in the low-mid and mid frequency ranges, and the overall mastering balance that needs a boost to the highs and a cut to the lows. I'd love to hear this one back after another production pass. NO (resubmit)
  6. Very fun, bouncy, saccharine pop. It sounds like an upgrade of the original, but sadly doesn't showcase enough expansion and original material to pass our judging criteria. Production is great, but I'm afraid it's a NO
  7. Oh boy, I love me some Unreal. Well, Unreal Tournament, at least - I never played its predecessor, but I see the composers are the same, and this ReMix certainly captures the aesthetic perfectly. The sound design is excellent throughout; you’re obviously putting that hardware to good use! Let’s get into the play-by-play: Ambient intro with some phasing/chorus effects to set the scene leads into a bassline worthy of UT. It’s not the same as the source tune, but it’s close. We get 8 whole bars of the bassline alone, which seems excessive, as good as it is. The fill to introduce the drums was exactly what I was expecting, and very satisfying. That hi-hat panning is a big problem though, albeit a very easy fix. At the moment it’s panned almost hard-left, and sticks out like a sore thumb, particularly on headphones. Bring it back into the middle, maybe only 20% left, and it’ll be fine. A little more variation in the patterns wouldn’t go amiss either. Moving onto the A section, and I’m struggling to find a melody in the source tune. What I think you’ve done here is very clever - it sounds like you’ve sped up the long, sweeping strings from this point in the source, and added a few connecting notes to make a melody. I’ve gotta say, it sounds great, and is very catchy. The synth lead reminds me of the one in the UT99 track ‘Go Down’. After running through that, there’s a cool development of the bassline, and countermelody to go with it which complements the A section perfectly. We then drop back to the A section for 8 bars, then another 8 with a softer lead synth. The solo/B section is up next, using an 8-bar loop repeated twice, with an extra synth layer in the second run-through. It’s a decent section, and shows off some more originality in the track. The break maintains the synth layer heard in the second part of the solo, and not a lot else, for 8 bars, before bringing a kick pattern in for the next 8. Then there’s a 16-bar section of drum randomisation, and some snippets of the bass arp to fill it out. After 8 bars, I was tired of the randomisation (which is very obviously random), and was hoping the beats would sound more curated for the rest of their duration. I think if you’re employing randomisation to things, there has to be more manual editing afterwards, otherwise you’ll be there forever trying to get something that sounds interesting. What you’ve got here sounds OK, but certainly doesn’t justify 44 seconds of time in the track. Finishing off, there’s another 8-bar run-through of the A melody, followed by 16 bars of the countermelody. The outro is another 8 bars of the bass arp, into a fadeout. Source usage wise, I think it’s thin, however if I’m right on the melody, that’s present for a good portion of the track (32/132 bars), and the bass arp is there almost throughout. The bass arp, like the melody though, is inferred rather than verbatim at any point, so that’s why I’d say it’s fairly thin. Perhaps another judge can nail the usage down a bit more tightly, but I will say again that this track definitely has the Unreal aesthetic, so it’s got that going for it. The main issue I have with this piece is the length of time that sections seem to drag on for. I mentioned the drum randomisation earlier - that could be cut in half easily. Also consider the bass arp intro and outro - in total there are 16 bars where the bass arp is playing almost exclusively. Now I know it sounds good, but that’s way too gratuitous. You could halve that time at both ends and I wouldn’t miss it. When you have such a good framework for a track, you want to distil the best bits, not have them outstay their welcome. There’s a fair bit more I’d like to cut down on, but those 2 sections were definitely the most noticeable areas that would benefit from trimming. I’ve listened to this track for over an hour now, and the more I listen, the more I like it! I can see why you want to keep it going for longer, but if you could give it a trim and sort out that hi-hat panning, we’ll be in business. Hope to hear this one back soon. NO (resubmit)
  8. I've listened twice through and it's a very impressive performance. Organ music is not at all something I've ever chosen to listen to - although I do appreciate the spirituality of the instrument when in a religious setting. The dynamic range is certainly huge - I found myself turning the volume up at the start, and then by the end it was pretty loud. As stated though, this is intentional and I don't have a problem with it. I'm not sure this piece would fit into a regular playlist of tracks for casual listening, so compression isn't really necessary to normalise the volume there. Over 8 and a half minutes is a long time for improvisation, and I only counted one instance around 5:25 where it sounds like a duff note has been played. The dissonance around 6:10, as mentioned in the submission email, was intentional. It does a pretty good job of grabbing your attention right before the really fast arpeggiated section. In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf can be found playing the organ just before the final battle. The first half of this piece evokes the calm serenity and contemplation offered by the Temple of Time. The second half escalates into - in my mind - the dramatic boss fight at the end of the game. A fitting tribute to the game's lore which I'm sure OoT purists and any pipe organ fans out there will enjoy. YES
  9. What a fantastic start, and a great choice of source tune. Fits the 'epic orchestra' genre perfectly. MW and proph are the experts when it comes to orchestration, and they've got some great critiques and advice. For my part, there weren't enough dynamics to it. The intensity was very high for the majority of the track. It needs to ebb and flow much more, to provide moments of intensity within the surrounding atmosphere, making each one more dramatic. It's like a Michael Bay film - too many explosions, and you get bored of explosions. In addition to the overall dynamics, the individual performances could also have a more natural ebb and flow to them. MW mentioned the strings, and from 2:11-2:41 they've very noticeably playing with the exact same character. Try and mix it up a bit, the way a real performer might. Overall clarity could also be improved - perhaps it's a result of a little too much reverb, or sample quality, but if there's a way you can bring the instruments further forward in the aural space then that would be appreciated. It's a NO from me now, but a great start nonetheless and I'm sure you can improve on this if you wanted to resubmit. NO (resubmit)
  10. Hey, I like the energy and method used to create this. I usually transcribe things myself too; you often find some happy accidents when doing it that way that help with composition. It's a good homage to the source, although there are flaws in the production and arrangement which are holding it back. The most obvious thing I'd want an improvement on is the sound design. Those synths sound very 16-bit, and although have higher fidelity than the GBA, they don't have much more character to them. They do sound cohesive within the track itself, so that's a plus, however the whole thing just needs an upgrade to fulfil its potential. Prophetik mentioned the snare and hats - the snare sounds like it's in the back room, while the hats are being played in the hallway and the rest of the kit is in the living room. Having the percussion sound like it's in the same space is important, and helps the individual samples sit in the mix, rather than being exposed. The sound clips were cool, adding a retro touch, and I liked the chopping of the samples to add some texture. MW and proph both noted that it feels like a 'remix of two halves', and I'd agree the skid transition at 2:09 needs a little more finesse to it. It's very abrupt, probably intentionally, but could use some foreshadowing in the arrangement. A break section beforehand leading to a build, then the transition, for example. It's a cool way to change up the track, like a boss fight, but with some more attention to the arrangement, this part too could really pop. There's a lot of good stuff in here, and it's a really catchy tune with a great old school vibe. Take another pass at it and hopefully you can elevate it to the next level! NO (resubmit)
  11. Cool arrangement and creative approach to the style, but unfortunately the mixing needs a complete overhaul. Once the bass comes in, it's extremely hard to focus on much else. There's a lot of acoustic energy in the lows and low-mids that's fatiguing my ears as I listen. Is there any reverb on the bass? Sounds like there could be - if there is, dial that all the way back and that'll be a good starting point, then look to do everything Chimpazilla suggested. I always think of mixing as "the easy bit", as it can be done after the song is composed, but in reality, with a completed track it can be a daunting task. The good thing is that mixing skills apply to everything you'll ever make, whereas each arrangement is always unique. Give this one another crack, and hopefully it'll clean up nicely and you can take those skills forward. NO (resubmit)
  12. I played MK64 to death back in the day. It was the first game I got with my N64, and always a favourite. I was really excited to hear Toad's Turnpike done in a synthwave style, as it lends itself to the genre very nicely, especially with the driving theme. I'm not sure this remix holds up to your usual standard, however, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the dynamics are non-existent. The track is LOUD, and way over the limiter virtually throughout. Look at this clipping analysis from Audacity: That's pretty egregious from a mastering perspective. Give those limiters some more headroom, please! The N64's samples weren't great to begin with, and you can hear the distortion exposed clearly with all this gain that's been added. The waveform also looks like a big brick because there aren't any real breaks in the arrangement. You've got the intro, then a long A section from 0:26-1:37 followed by a short bridge, then a solo from 1:44-2:12, then you retread a lot of ground from 2:12-3:16 with a slightly shorter A section into the bridge again, before the outro. I really like the way the solo leads back into the source at 2:12, and I love those synthwavey chords in the outro, but there's a ton of repeated material in here. Not to mention the drums, which are on autopilot everywhere except the bridges. It's the same loop for about 80% of the song, and it gets old really fast. The mixing sounds off with the drumkit as well - the toms are especially loud. This one has a lot of potential, but it feels rushed and far too rough around the edges in its current state. NO
  13. Oh, I remember this one from the WIP boards last year! It's worth reading that short thread because Akidna showed a great willingness to take on board my feedback, and has clearly made improvements to the production. Seems to be the ideal way to approach constructive criticism and use it to improve as an artist. Warms my heart! YES Edit: I appear to have embarrassed myself here... the YT upload and the sub are the same. It's possible Akidna made the edits based on my feedback and has a revised mix somewhere. Either way, it's over the bar as-is, but those pointers I gave him still stand. Glad he agreed with my critique nonetheless.
  14. Not much I can add to prophetik's excellent feedback on this one, but I will say that there's already a terrific Touhou orchestral arrangement on this site from a different game, but a similar-sounding source. Have a listen to PrototypeRaptor's amazing Devil's Advocate from 2010, and try to strive for these heights! Pay attention to the progression, the dynamics, and the ebb and flow of the instrumentation. I'm not saying it needs to be as good as Devil's Advocate, but there's a lot you could learn from that ReMix that would help you here. Best of luck! NO
  15. "What the Qfwfq is this?" I found myself wondering on first listen. Having never heard the source, and expecting something experimental from yourself, I still wasn't prepared for what I was about to hear. The first 12 seconds or so remind me of something by The Avalanches, except you're not sampling anything - it's all original sound design chopped and mashed together to create a similar effect. There's a similar melody to the classic one from Close Encounters of the Third Kind that appears around 30 seconds, which is fitting because this is so alien to my usual tastes that it's a challenge to evaluate objectively. Nonetheless, there's a certain magnetism that has been conjured up in these short minutes which is a testament to your sound design and arrangement. Without using traditional methods (you know, things like a beat, groove, or melody...) you've somehow captured my attention and held it for the duration of the track. I'm not sure whether I love it or hate it by the end, but I definitely appreciate the artistic endeavour. After 3 listens, I heard the source tune, and that went some way to explaining the weirdness. The rest is just Hudak being Hudak. I'll disagree with my fellow judges when it comes to the crunchiness of the synths after 1:19 - I didn't find them unpleasant at all. The sound design is 100% intentional here, and although it may sound like a clipping-style crackle, those crackles have some processing on them and evolve in their own way which means it's not purely digital distortion. I think it's a very clever way of managing to fill out some of the mid-high frequency ranges without using a pad/other harmonies/traditional percussion. I think I've somehow managed to talk myself into this one, after my initial reaction. Cerebral stuff as always Michael, thanks for the submission! YES
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