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Everything posted by Rexy

  1. Did somebody ring for my attention? I agree with Larry in that the arrangement is solid stuff - and thank you so much for putting the source breakdown in your video performance! It's a cohesive framework that focuses way more on "Birth of a God" and uses occasional motifs from the others. The presentation does have that sweet jazz fusion stylization to it, with the appropriate sound palette, drum writing, and backing keys. It's a pleasant listen. Regarding the production values, I'm also in Larry's frame of mind in that the soundscape is thin. Your performance is tight, so I can't fault that at all. But if you're working with organic instruments like jazz guitars, it can take some further post-production to make them sound more realistic. I appreciate that you showed off the Evolution Strawberry guitar VST as your primary sound in this case, so it made me analysis so much easier. You've already demonstrated the use of keyswitches to get different articulations for your guitar sound, so you've made good progress already. But it is still possible to take it further. Look at the effect keys at the far right of the keyboard. Pressing them at appropriate times can add a muted or sliding effect into the performance, varying on velocity or how high up the virtual frets they are. It won't do anything about the flat attacks, but they can show off more of what Strawberry is all about. Take a closer look at the Tone and Setup tabs. Odds are you've done the former already with the number of guitar tones currently present. But the setup tab has a lot of custom options for the pick position, the static attack/release, the number of guitars multitracked, and other variables. See if playing around with them can add more life to the tone. And while I'm on it, consider setting up envelopes. All Kontakt sounds can have their settings mapped to one of these. By programming one in, you can change more of the tone/timbre on the fly. A more realistic guitar sound is one thing, but let's say for some reason your present tones are quadruple tracked and still sound flat. If so, consider layering a warmer guitar/synth underneath to add more fullness to the leads. If you would instead stick with the one sample, try getting more mid-range warmth from an external EQ effect or by altering the tone. Similarly, boosting the appropriate frequencies on your drum kit can add more fullness, as can delay and compression when necessary. But don't do too much on the overhead, as it'll make them sound less organic and I doubt they'd work well in a stylized setup like this. Nevertheless, that's a lot of production crits from me. Keep the arrangement as it is - it's already fantastic as it stands. But do experiment further with Strawberry's settings and consider further processing the sound for added realism and thickness. I believe it's possible to get posted with the sounds you have, so I do hope you get the opportunity to revisit this. NO (resubmit)
  2. You got the source undoubtedly present, and with subtle subtractive arranging between each variation. The piano run set the stage, the orchestral metal variant added some new wind/string flourishes and harmonies from 0:55, and eventually added brass stabs near the climax. The Indian folk-based section at 1:42 went loose with lovely accented percussion, and an expressive sarangi (?) lead with some subtle pitch-shifting. Add that with a sweet guitar solo at 2:38, and I can see the fun ideas all laid out. It does stick very close to the source's notation throughout, but it's not afraid to explore different textures, and I can respect this decision. Production-wise, the mix does feel unbalanced, though. When the lead guitars appear among the orchestra backdrop, the rest of the instruments bury them entirely. They're supposed to be dominant among the orchestral backing, and it's especially jarring with the strings and brass swallowing the lead guitar solo's energy. Your guitar tones are fantastic as always, so I feel they can be brought further into the mix without altering another instrument's EQ settings. Talking of EQ, there's a peculiar emphasis on low-mids. The piano intro covered a limited set of notes, mainly spanning the low end and sounds muddy. One straight-forward fix other than changing the piano tone is to bring the right hand an octave higher. The orchestra itself also has an emphasis on lower tones, with the stringed backing providing it at first and the brass getting more aggressive later on. EQ cuts among the lower-end can give them a more defined place within the mix and let other parts stand out alongside it. Looking over your symphonic orchestra particularly, the articulation here feels minimal at best. You've got the brass stabs in nicely, but the other parts sound robotic in the mix. They are center stage for a full minute, but the constant attacks and releases make them fall flat. The slow attack on the strings also makes the melody too hard to hear. They alone can easily benefit with both key-switch experimentation and a less sluggish attack value at least. Nevertheless, key-switches and envelope manipulations are two handy tools that can give more human life to your classical backing. It's an okay arrangement - safe, but I see it as borderline acceptable. But I would like to see you go through another mixdown pass, with more emphasis on the guitars and more clarity/realism among the symphonic orchestration. Never stop experimenting with different sounds though, Jean-Marc - that's a strong asset that I'd like to see carried over to future work! NO (resubmit)
  3. Oh boy, I remember this! Sir Nuts linked me to the decision thread not long after I got added to the Judges and asked which way I'd vote on it. Here's what I thought: once the melody started at 0:21, the source clicked for me there and then. The harmonies and effects contributed actively towards subtractive arranging, which is heard as the main arrangement attraction. The horn performances and manipulations were spot on, added to that textural thickness and are all cleanly placed out in the mix. And do you know what else this track brought to mind? It reminds me of the Tortoise section of Camille Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals suite. Saint-Saens used the main melodic riff of Offenbach's "Galop Infernal" (otherwise known as the Can-Can) and slowed it down by 2.5x, while here the source is brought down to 4x its speed. This arrangement is a more extreme case, but at the end of the day, the BGM is dominant and has an interpretation approach seldom seen around the VGM scene, period. If I were on the panel at the time, I would've been in the Yes camp. Nevertheless, you did boldly, and I hold mad respect to the result that popped out. The original Super Mario Bros has tunes covered a vast number of times, but this is a sign that proves there's still room to make something unique out of it. Nice work!
  4. Ooh, I love the expression on your lead guitar! I understand the Satriani-esque vibe you were going for with that. The arrangement itself is a straightforward rock cover complete with solos, and even they felt sweet and dense like a virtuoso work should be. It's an interesting minimalist setup with just a single rhythm guitar, two leads, bass and percussion. And yet, most of the time it doesn't feel too empty all things considered. I do have issues with the drums like my fellow judges. First, I'm going to have to disagree with MindWanderer regarding the tom groove (not machine gun drums) at 0:19. It's the most engaging part of the entire drum track, with the writing and occasional 16th note flourishes. I do agree on it sounding mechanical, and that also is a problem with the rest of the track's notation. You've made a start with adding accented notes when necessary, so some further velocity tweaks around the quieter notes can add some human life to these patterns. Talking of patterns, I sensed a lot of cut-and-paste among the drum writing as well. You have the ride groove at 0:58, the 16-beat at 1:17 and the 8-beat at 1:36, but these parts repeat in sequence from 1:55 onward with no alterations from the previous section. It's fine to have an established groove for a specific part of the track, but you can spice them up with different fills, flourishes out of nowhere or even changing up the kick pattern. Take the time to experiment and see where it takes you. I also feel the balance can be improved as well. I'm in a completely different direction to MW yet again here - I can hear the bass, but the rhythm guitar feels buried whenever the leads are in play. With a minimalist setup and the rhythm guitar being the only instrument in the low-mid section, it does become a problem. If EQ tweaks can't work out, it's an instrument I would like to hear a touch louder. Support with a keyboard pad can also help fill out that area if further assistance is required, but this will depend on exactly which Satriani track(s) inspired you. It's a satisfactory arrangement with an ear-catching lead tone and a more intriguing soundscape for rock arrangements, so it'll be neat to hear on the front page down the line. But to get it up there, I'd like to see you spice up those drums and get your rhythm guitar to stand out more. I too thought it almost went over the bar, so I do hope you keep working on it. NO (resubmit)
  5. Power drills and wine glasses? Sign me the heck up - that automatically makes the soundscape unique! The arrangement is easily more organic than the original, again due in part to the choice of instruments with only the electric guitar and the power drill providing a subtle synthetic layer. The framework is also tight, with an intro, two full sections based on the source, and a mellow breakdown at 3:14 complete with a sweet guitar solo and tom groove. I like how in the second source block (starting at 1:59), Sean saved the track from repetition with playing around with the melody and contributing to the backing instrumentation. Natalya's role is minimal in comparison, but her harp added a sweet response to both Reuben's acoustic guitar and Sean's lower strings. Top that with a tight and bouncy banjo lead, and by concept alone, I see it as one of Reuben's best. The instruments and SFX all feel clear as well and appropriately placed in the stereo field. I have no problems with the higher strings at 1:05 as I thought they were intended to have the main melody line. I would've liked more EQ separation between Sean's strings and Reuben's acoustic guitar/banjo, but it's more of a nitpick here. The track is also quiet with the volume hardly peaking above -6dB, but I can also make a case for organic parts needing room for expression and can function as-is. It's one of the most standout Fear Factory arrangements I've heard, for sure. Combined with tight performances, a one-of-a-kind sound palette and one of Reuben's better productions, I'm more than happy to see this on the front page. Excellent job! YES
  6. I received a mixing update from Garpocalypse this morning. The new version (linked in the OP) has addressed my mixing criticisms, and I'm a lot more confident with what he's got. Here's the changelog: For the bass, I wanted to hear more of its tone anyway and not the harmonics, and that's exactly what he set out to revise. The kick has more of a presence now, the guitars are cleaner, and I had no idea you can use saturation as a mixing tool in this kind of situation - it's paid off and added a much more defined sound. The only issue I had with this particular version is a couple of weird off-the-beat woodblock sounds at 0:39. I don't know if they were there before, but they stick out and don't belong in the soundscape. I've contacted Ryan to get him to look at that, and since it is a 2-minute fix, I believe this track is almost ready for primetime now. I've got my fingers crossed! [EDIT: Less than 6 hours later, Ryan got in touch with a render that fixed the issue - which turned out to be a punched-in metronome. The sound is gone, the track sounds great, and I am confident in giving it full approval for the front page now. So glad he was able to chip in!] YES
  7. I'm not too sure why you linked a fan arranger's 40-minute medley to show your basis. But I do see that the first track in sequence - "Echt of Sorrow" - has an evident inspiration based on structure and instrumentation. It also fits for Edgar and Sabin's bond in the game, so good thinking referencing that particular source from Re:Zero. I love how you adapted the central Figaro theme to a slow waltz - it feels sweet and sentimental. The strings throughout and the vocal sample at 0:56 are also beautifully articulated and grabbed my attention. And the decision to give the "Coin Song" section at 2:17 one of the thickest backing setups alongside the change to 4/4 has some liveliness that wasn't present in the source material. And to give some respite for Larry, there's straight source use from 0:15-3:05, 3:32-3:50 and 4:04-5:10 - so it's dominant as well. In all seriousness, the arrangement is fantastic. However, that solo piano section at 3:05 doesn't feel natural. The velocities and timings feel way too robotic, and Gario also pointed out the uncanny volume envelope that shaped it. I understand that you want the piano to sound bolder as time goes on, and that's acceptable in concept. But the only effect I heard is a tech crew member realizing they placed their microphone too far from the piano and needed to edge closer carefully. If your other samples have an alternate soft sound when played gently, surely the piano VST has something similar to let it stand tall as well. I'm also unsure about how much of a non-VGM source should be in a submission. Based on this, it's also a safe bet to change the harp's notation to something that's more "inspired" by the animé, not directly fitting it in. Nevertheless, it's a lovely concept, and I enjoyed every second of it - but that robotic piano section sunk it under the production bar. The woodwinds were okay at best - not as lovely as the string and vocal articulation - but the piano needs work to make it sound as beautifully realized as the rest of the instruments. Consider looking into your harp and changing the notation, so you don't run into a standards violation either. I don't know how much non-BGM you can use in a track at the maximum, but it's better safe than sorry. Regardless, please revise the mix and send it back to us! NO (resubmit)
  8. The arrangement structure is by-the-numbers, but my gosh did the source get used well. You've changed the key, no section sounds samey, and each variation has its way of being played differently. It's a safe structure though with two run-throughs, subtle original writing, and some careful building down with the C section at the end. I also thought the use of the Capcom logo jingle at the start was charming, as well as tastefully using lower-quality percussion/harpsichord soundfonts at 3:38 to add more of a game feel. It's nice stuff. Alas, the balance feels off to me. First of all, the drums feel wet and distant, with an equally rough tradeoff of the kick's attack being inaudible. It's fine to place that meaty reverb onto your snare for that big rock sound, but the kick didn't need as much with all the fast movements it had throughout. Secondly, the rhythm guitar has muffled the bass. I get the trope for mixing metal tracks - no one's going to hear the bass player - but it's still an essential part of the beat's foundation. I feel it's best to add a slight high-pass onto the rhythm guitars just so the bass can pass through in the mix, but if that affects the tone too much, boosting its volume can be another alternative solution. And this is more of minor note, but your lead-supporting synth pads (0:49, 1:37, 2:25) should be quieter. The lead guitar is meant to take center stage with the support only adding to its presence, not swallowing it whole. It's an enjoyable yet safe arrangement, and I appreciate the opportunity to get the judgment fast-tracked. But all in all, I feel the mixdown needs a revision before bringing it onto the front page. Take a look at the reverb surrounding your drum set (especially the kick pedal), find a way to give the bass more presence, and go through your instruments' volume levels. This track is one I'd like to hear on the front page in some shape or form, even if it takes an extra attempt to do so. NO (resubmit)
  9. Ouch - I see Larry asking for "rock musician" judges to help out and we don't have any. How do we rectify that? Anyway, Larry also nailed the track progression. I do also find it interesting that you took motifs from all four movements of the source and turned them into a compact rock sound in the space of 7 minutes. By that merit alone, it's one of the more interesting "Dancing Mad" arrangements I've heard in a long while. What I like about the arrangement is that it doesn't go from point A to point D straight away. The first minute alone has lush choirs citing the first movement, leading into a heavy metal rendition of the third. Only then does it decide to explore the sequence in order before calming down with a choir-driven reference to the source's finale. You thought wisely using the third form for bookends - it's a balls-to-the-wall opener that sets the mood, and it offers familiarity for the finish. I don't mind the transitions as it's an expected component of the source material. But if there's any way to make them segue further, transposing the first movement sections up a semitone can mask it. It's not something that'll keep me up at night, though. Alas, with so many rock flavors, the mixing needs a lot more care. On the broader picture alone: The cymbals have too much sibilance/sizzle overall so consider cutting out some of those higher frequencies. Whenever the choir and rhythm guitars appear at the same time, the former gets brutally drowned out. If you're unable to cut EQ from the guitar without sacrificing the texture quality, think about carefully bringing the choir's volume up. And even more jarring, there were several points in the track with unintentional distortion. A revision on the master chain is a suggested idea to remove them if a revised mixdown doesn't solve it. Additionally, the blast beats at 3:24 is an excellent idea for the second form in theory, but the mixing here feels careless. On top of the previous cymbal and choir issues, you'd also have to accommodate for the snare drum barrage as well, and I can barely hear that either. Again, this can be a case of trying to make cuts in the guitar to get the snare to pop through, or bringing the snare volume up if it screws over the guitar texture. Or another idea is to change the snare's tone so that it doesn't fit the track's key, giving it more of a chance to push through the soundscape with less effort. In a vacuum, this track is enjoyable, and I'd love to hear it on the front page in some shape or form. Unfortunately, the mixdown is so cluttered I can't see it as this incarnation. You got plenty of production crits from all 3 of us, so keep them in mind if you decide to give the presentation another pass. Hearing a cleaner version of this track will be amazing. NO (resubmit)
  10. Can I say first of all that I enjoyed your choice of SID-inspired synths in the disco section? The arpeggio adds a nice unexpected texture, and the lead itself has good use of legato and a flanger effect to get it to stand out. I also appreciated how the first and second variations of the source's B section (1:56-2:12 and 2:20-2:35 respectively) have their subtle differences in how it's performed, with the second going as far as having a harmony along with it. I also saw in the workshop that you made the bass groove entirely by hand - and it's tight and full of fun, so be proud of that. However, this track does have some problems - most importantly, the little amount of source presence. Here's what I heard: 0:44-1:15 - Strings going through the source's A section. 1:48-2:12 - C64 arpeggio going through half of the source's A section, followed by the lead going into the first variation of B. 2:20-2:35 - The lead's second variation of B, complete with the mentioned new harmony. 2:44-2:52 - The C64 arpeggio repeating what it did at 1:48. 3:08-3:24 - The lead's third variation of B - almost the same as the second, but the C64 arpeggio appears in the background doing its own thing. That's 94 seconds of source, meaning 42% presence. If it's not dominant, I can't pass the track as it is. It's still possible to salvage the structure and find other places to fit parts of the source that had gone unused. You have the entire C section, the bassline, and the marimba parts - and it's a good idea to go over the uncovered areas of the track and see how you can adapt them. Even other Golden Sun BGM could get squeezed in as well, depending on your overall vision. [EDIT 18/09/2019: In light of MindWanderer's source findings, I re-listened to the harp at 0:12 and compared it with the xylophone in the source. Unfortunately, I can't hear a connection between either of them and I can't count it towards source quota.] As for the production, there's a significant amount of flaws in the second half that all add up. The drums are as dull as dishwater. For most of the song, it's a basic four-on-the-floor beat with just the kick and a snare, with a ride cymbal popping up only occasionally. I know you wanted to avoid doing dance beats in your work, but it helps to study dance grooves and see what you can add beyond just the kick-and-snare foundation. The lead synth's timing feels sloppy. It's fine to go off the beat if you're using organic instrumentation, but a synthetic soundscape requires all synth parts to be as tight as possible. There's no shame in quantizing synth leads here. There's no presence at all in the high frequencies. Usually, with dance grooves, it's felt through higher-pitched percussion (like hi-hats), but with no hi-hat at all, this part of the soundscape fell flat. The only instrument trying to push for any presence up there is your lead synth's buzz, and amplifying that will only make it sound worse. It rolls back into spicing up your drum groove and the potential of adding other parts of the source, so remedying those can go hand-in-hand. The drums themselves get buried whenever pads appear alongside them. Consider putting a high-pass onto your pads, effectively cutting out the lows and some of the low-mids. It'll give your percussion (and even your bass) more room to breathe in the mix. The track as a whole also sounds over-compressed. If your master chain has a limiter, try weakening it to reduce the unintended pumping. As it stands, there's a foundation that can lead to a nice-sounding mix, and I do indeed like your synth palette choices - but the track itself is both rough-sounding and source-light. I'd be happy if you take a look into my production-related bullet points and integrate more source material. Whether you decide to continue working on this track or doing something anew, I'm excited to see where your musical development goes next. NO
  11. Now, that is what I call no-brainer fun! Larry nailed the source breakdown and progression of the track, so consider yourself good with fitting the theme in and adding in some robust original writing. That solo at 2:10 was fun, expressive and had a surprisingly pleasant tone, and that's something I would like to hear more of going forward. All this and the framework is tight and evolves appropriately despite the structure being as pop-rock as it can get. I do also relate to the issue with the 2:43 section dragging for longer than needed, but I also didn't feel entirely sold on the drum writing. Yes, we're going back there - an issue that I had already touched upon in your prior DuckTales submission. There is a changeup on the kick pedal in the second run-through on the source - but that's it. Even the fills have the same repeated tom roll going down in pitch and moving from left to right across the stereo field, and that's going right across the track. I can accept it here as the energy from the other instruments is sweet, but I'd still like to see you keep working on it for the future. Looking at the production, it does feel biased on crunch overall. The timbre on the drum pieces has more of an emphasis on higher frequencies. The synth that appears at 0:21 has a high-tone buzz that luckily doesn't interfere with the body. And the guitars also have that same balance between tone and harmonics. But at the same time, the instruments are still appropriately balanced, and I can identify the parts in the mix - sometimes with more presence than anticipated (!) - and therefore has gone further over the bar than the arrangement. I mentioned my issues with the composition, but neither the drum repetition or lengthy original sections are dealbreakers. The interpretation and original sections as a whole sounded great, and the production values are also serviceable. I can see this on the front page, and a solid debut at that! YES
  12. I'm going to have to disagree with Larry regarding the arrangement. Yes, there's mood changes and subtracting some of the brisker parts of the source material. But at the end of the day, this is just a cover of the second half of "Omen" - and that alone is not enough. We've had arrangements this short before that have made significant transformative alterations to the source, and there's a lot that you can do to get up to a similar level. Playing around with the melodies, changing up the chords, and adding new rhythm parts and countermelodies are three such ideas that immediately popped up into my mind. You are right with "Terra" in all of its incarnations being massively overdone, but that doesn't mean you have to play too uncannily safe. However, my production analysis isn't as accurate as I've had to rip the track directly from Soundcloud. But I sensed unbalanced instrumentation with the pads having too much emphasis, and that caused a lot of mud in the low-mids. It's a shame because I like those shimmering textures - but I can barely hear the melody and struggled to detect other backing parts. When you're mixing down instruments, it's best to get the percussion balanced out first, then fitting in the bass, the melodies, the pads, and the rhythm parts in turn. After that, consider doing further EQ separation on your mid-range instruments, preferably allowing for your lead to have a presence in your soundscape. Re-balancing the instruments can also fix another issue I detected, and that's the number of pops. I'm not sure if it's a CPU or compressor plugin issue, but it feels weird to hear so much clipping and yet no peak in the ripped Soundcloud file go beyond -3dB. Consider going through each of your instruments/plugins to get to the source of the pops, then see what you can do to remove them. Summing my thoughts up, the track in its current state is too safe and too roughly produced to take onto the site. Look into changing up the arrangement, re-balancing the mixdown, and doing something about the consistent pops. Not a bad foundation, but it'll be lovely for you to revise the track further. NO
  13. I was struggling to pick out the source material, so I got in touch with Michael, and he provided a concise breakdown. 0:54-1:05 - The blippy synths at the 1:29 section. 1:12-1:17 - A syncopated piano from Phendrana Drifts. 1:27-1:29, 1:33-1:35 - The sine wave as heard in Torvus Bog. 1:41-1:56 - The blippy synths at the 1:47 section. 1:56-2:28 - The constant sine wave throughout the source. 2:28-2:43 - The blippy synths at 1:47, with the sine wave in the background. 3:15-3:30 - The blippy synths at 1:47. 3:35-4:02 - The constant sine wave throughout the source. The sine wave in the source didn't have a set pattern, but they did have a set rhythm, and Michael's interpretation kept that intact. Amazingly, this ended up a second over the 50% mark, and that alone is remarkable. I also understand where the vision is going with this one. Whenever the sine wave is present, it's there to signal chaos in a short-term relationship. A lot of the track outside of it is more melodic, which of course signifies the more positive aspects of love. It's a weird direction that uses less of the source material than I was expecting, but there is a foundation here. The production left me with even more questions. Yes, the writing has minimalism, but the textures are still meaty, and there's a good use of layers on the instruments. Yes, the "argument" section at 1:56 is tonally weird, and there are moments where the backing is stripped down to the bass, a melody and some simple drums. But at the end of the day, Michael intended this track to be a work of art. The only thing that looks off is how quiet the track is. The mix does peak, but beyond 1:56, the volume rarely goes beyond -6dB. You can quickly remedy it by making adjustments to a limiter if there is one in your master chain. I could mark it as a conditional on volume right here and now, but like MindWanderer, the artist's intention has me questioning whether an art-based piece like this is cohesive enough for the OC Remix front page. Technically there is an arrangement, and there's a working production. But the oddities it has makes it hard for me to cement a vote right away, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to sit on it for a while. [EDIT 02/10/2019: Having seen prophetik's vote, I am in agreement that the Phendrana Drifts part isn't considered to be overt. I still see nothing troubling with the direction or production values otherwise. It's almost there, but to make it ready for the OCR front page, it just needs more clear source - preferably more distinctive parts from them. You're knocking at the door Michael, and I know you can make it. Keep going!] NO (resubmit)
  14. You got a decent grasp on the arrangement for sure. Every instance of the Marble Zone BGM had this played-around melody that maintained the pitch but had note rhythms changed up. The downward arpeggio in the source also got changed to a triplet feel to adapt to the groove's shuffle focus. Plus, there's a delicate writing balance to let the two source-free segments (0:03-0:19, 2:34-3:03) calm the pace down. There is some repetition with the played-around melody being the same in all instances, though. But the layering of other instruments breaks up the monotony slightly - whether as modest as an arpeggio (0:39), a drumbeat (1:18) or a low e-piano (1:58). However, the biggest flaw the track has is in the production. The soundscape feels thin as if there's only one instrument doing each assigned role with no other parts backing it up. Going by your description, if you're working with FL Studio presets, it's ideal to use a lot of them all at once. The lead at 0:19 is a particular example of this - the flanger effect sounds interesting, but the tone doesn't have any impact. If you layer it up with 1 or 2 more leads, it can add some thickness to the sound. Should you go down that path and find a solution that works, consider looking into your other instruments and figuring out whether they need similar treatment. You'll also need to be careful with multiple instruments, though. As more gets added into the soundscape, you'll need to add more care to instrument balance and their EQ. Even in the track's current form, the strings and arpeggio at 2:54 tonally bleed into each other. Then at the busy section at 3:32, it's hard to listen out for either of them without thinking. If you want my take, I felt the strings would've needed a cut in the mids to let the arpeggio push through, but that's only assuming you'd want more synth presence than the other way round. Nevertheless, as you get more layers, you need to think about which instruments get EQ cuts/boosts to accommodate the production. This track has some cute ideas that stick around for longer than needed, but the soundscape itself is thinner than water, and that is a huge dealbreaker. New instruments and use of delay are two ways I can think of to thicken that soundscape up and make it sound way more ready for primetime. The minor repetition is a close second but should get checked out to reduce further fatigue. Not a bad move you two, so I'm keen to see this back in the inbox in a revised form. NO
  15. You have quite an interesting setup here. There are not very many instruments involved - which makes sense, arranging an 8-bit source - and they do all sound well-balanced in the virtual space. The level of humanization is also an improvement from prior submitted works - and I can feel it the most across the harp, mandolin and even your violin patches. It also is a quiet mix, but this is a track that is better off with a gentler dynamic pace based on the instrumentation involved. Overall, the production does its job here, even with the questionable minimalism. The arrangement more than checks out as well. The three theme variants all have different levels of textures, and even the intro was doubled in length with the harp doing one run and strings pulling off another. Some subtle subtractive changes are present too. I sensed plenty of harp and mandolin florishes, the second variation's countermelodies, and the third section's plucked strings in the support role instead of the cellos. There are evident changes, it's in a framework that evolves and calms down, and I can get behind it. It's one of the oddest Rebecca creations I've heard for a while, but I see it making a name for itself on the front page. Good work! YES
  16. Aw, geez - I am a sucker for late 90s euro-dance! The tropes are down pat - the choice of synths, the track structure with the build into the calm section into the full melodic drop at 3:46, and even modifying the 6/8 source to 4/4 and making them feel more melodic than the original implied. The production also has no significant faults and sounds like it can blend in as part of an EDM setlist from 15-20 years ago. Honestly, I'd bust this track out at a party if I get the opportunity. However, there is a significant dealbreaker in this track, and that is the source's presence and lack thereof. I heard it from 0:59-2:50, then the source-free breakdown and second drop meant no appearance again until 5:09-6:19. That's less than 45% source use. To remedy this issue, consider either cutting the length of your original content or adding more of the source / other Wario Land BGM. Honestly, Alex, this is cool stuff. Ultimately it turned out to be source light, and I'll be pleased if you can do something about that. Keep at it. NO (resubmit)
  17. I'm assessing with the new link that was sent over yesterday. First of all, I love your concept of blending two well-loved sources! The structure itself is by the numbers with one run-through of Aquatic Ambiance, one interpretation of Stickerbrush Symphony and back the other way for the ending. But the way both themes integrate backing elements from the other is sublime and have locked together in one cohesive arrangement. Even the sound design is cohesive and appropriate for the synthwave direction. The retro-sounding drums, the synths and even the lo-fi-sounding EQ molding contributed to a track that sounds like it's tailor-made for a 1980s boombox. This EQ choice - which has more emphasis on the mid-range - means it's uncanny to listen to on headphones, though. I don't see it as a dealbreaker, but it is something to keep in mind for the future if the mixdown ended up as a happy little accident. Either way, I'm behind the arrangement idea for sure. The production may spark debates on social media, but I see it as a well-crafted replica of that authentic 1980s sound. The concept still worked, and I'll be delighted to see it on the front page. Good going! YES
  18. It's a sweet and straightforward arrangement - a direct run-through of the theme, and a variant with some comping at 2:35-3:43. The first half has some subtle additions with a guitar countermelody and the bass doing octave runs from 1:49. However, I'm not too thrilled over the section at 3:43-4:45 sounding identical to 1:26-2:28. That is a substantially long chunk of music, so do consider the idea of changing that section up. Altering the core groove, playing around with the melody and adding new parts are some potential changes you could do. To my surprise, the mixdown doesn't sound as problematic as previous submissions. I can identify everything, there aren't any significant frequency overlaps, and the instruments all have their established roles. The one thing that did stick out is the amount of headroom. The track does peak beyond -1dB, but most of the recording barely goes beyond -9. If you don't have a master chain in your workflow, consider setting up a limiter and see how much more energy you can get out of it. I also feel your snare and toms can be louder as well, especially when the "verse" grooves are so focused on the latter. And of course, there's the performance. Yes, the accordion has unnatural sounding articulation and doesn't align with the backing guitars - Larry was spot on with pointing that out. But I also think the comping at 2:35-3:43 was unfocused as well. Nothing wrong with a more laid-back improvisation, but the arrangement itself is in D major just like the source. The lead instruments didn't need to break away from that key occasionally and improv in C instead. I think the comping here needs a do-over to gel more with the backing. It's a good base so far Reuben, but the large copy-paste section and synergy issues are my most significant points of concern here. I'd like to see you vary up the second bridge-chorus section, work on the accordion's timing/articulation, and potentially redo the improv. You picked a belter of a source though, so if anyone can add the Pokémon TGC onto the OCR map, it's you. Keep at it! NO (resubmit)
  19. Awww, I wanted to see the performance, but the Youtube video is unavailable. It would've been nice to get a visual on your performance chops here. Seriously, I can't deny the power behind your guitar performance. The playing chops are tight, the solo section at 1:29 is fun and melodically focused, and the tone behind the rhythm guitar is meaty and expressive. Aside from the power metal breakdown at 1:09, the source has a definite presence. Its structure is also clearly source-solo-source, and it sets itself up for a ride through no-brainer fun. The arrangement isn't quite there yet, as Larry pointed out. I enjoyed the framework, but the entire 1:50-2:27 section is a copy-paste of the 0:10-0:47 section before it. Likewise for the 2:27-2:37 section sounding just like 0:00-0:10, but they're bookends, and I believe they can stay as they are. Nevertheless, it would be good to go over the first copy-pasted section I pointed out and make some changes for it to stick out from the early theme variation. It can be changing up the groove, playing around with the melody, adding any new guitar countermelodies, or any other ideas that pop from your head. And then there's the production. Fair play for trying to mix down with broken equipment from what I saw in the workshop, but several errors are sticking out. Firstly the cymbals not only are too loud but also occupy a lot of frequency space in the mid-highs. This issue explains the splashing effect that Larry brought up, and they're usually better off with the sibilance range (2-5k) toned down. It will allow the frequencies above to stand out less harshly, plus give some breathing room for the lead guitars and ride. Going back to EQ, there are two additional issues that I have with the ending at 2:42. The exotic string playing the A section and the guitar playing the B section at the same time is a nice touch, so compositionally it's all good. However, there is a lot of distortion here. I don't know if it's because a sequence part is too loud or the CPU won't co-operate well with it. I also think the metallic pluck noise on it is too harsh-sounding, and can also benefit from an EQ cut along the high frequency. Either way, the ending needs another mixing pass to make it sound as presentable as the rest of the track. Not a bad start at all, but it's still got a way to go. Look at the second variation and see if you can make it stand out from the first, tame the cymbals, and revise the mixdown on the ending. Consider finding a spectrum analyzer online as well - if you've got broken equipment and not a lot of money for a repair/replacement at this moment in time, a visual indicator of your frequencies can be a sufficient substitute. Keep rocking on for us, Paul! NO (resubmit)
  20. I do feel the panning oddities through my headphones. Usually, it's okay to put textures that compliment each other on opposite sides of the stereo field. But with dry instrumentation like your bass layers and saw synth harmonies, the harsh timbres are way too over-exposed and ended up burying your leads. I feel they can benefit from being panned much closer to each other, and potentially have some EQ cuts in to give some more room to the leads. I don't mind the occasional lead wandering off in one direction though, as long as most of the other leads stay central in the virtual space. It does get achieved throughout most of the track, so credit where credit is due. Arrangement-wise, it's a refreshing foundation and the source is used throughout most of it. But the way it just goes back to the fading bass synth opening feels underwhelming and had an unfinished feel. On top of that, the drumbeat felt as if it was on autopilot up until 1:32. I don't mind the minimalist nature of it, but there's hardly any new changes contributed to the 1:06 variation of the A section because of this static beat. It's a shame because the synth manipulation is engaging and tasteful otherwise, and I can't fault your envelope/modulator work. As of right now, it sounds like a promising base. What stuck out the most was your difficult choice of panning, the leads feeling buried as part of a knock-on effect, and a static soundscape that affected the arrangement's framework. It would also be handy to get more interpretation out of this, but it's a minor irk in comparison to the listed production flubs. I'm with Larry and MW regarding the need for Rescue Rangers rep on OCR, so I'd love it if you get a chance to revisit it. NO (resubmit)
  21. There had been, but it was one of those tracks that got erased during the pre-1500 lockdown due to a standards violation. In fact, there's been a history of tracks that have been present on the site before, but had been removed with a clear reason. There is a hosted archive of removed tracks and the Mega Man track in question is right there. I hope this explains everything x)
  22. It's mostly a conservative arrangement, but the first minute has a subtle use of pedal with a simple run-through of the core motif and some playing around via the harp. Getting into the theme proper, I appreciate you doubling the pan flute with the harpsichord from 1:01-1:19 - a smart way to cut back on the former's exposure. Changing to different leads throughout and adding different padded layers also helped give it a lift, as well as the occasional countermelody, the call-and-response at 2:09 and some subtle flourishes on your woodwinds. These are small things that all add up to a welcoming and subtractive arrangement. However, it's also one of those tracks where the issue of humanization and lack thereof stands out. Larry rightfully pointed out the problem with the male choir, but I honestly think the string articulations (1:22-1:44, 2:29-2:51) feel stiff as well. All notes are playing with the same slow attack, with hardly any decay in preparation for the next one. In fact, decay seems to be a running issue. Whenever the woodwinds are left alone (panpipes at 0:28 and oboe at 3:17 to give some examples), the attacks and flourishes sound great, but some of the trail-offs leading into following notes are non-existant. With so many instruments all sharing that same robotic flaw, it all adds up to one big dealbreaker I'm afraid. For what it's worth though, the instruments are coherently balanced, and when combined with the arrangement it adds up to a sweet-sounding base. But Rebecca, for this track to pass, I'd like you to go over the more problematic instruments and see if you can work on their articulation. Keyswitches and envelopes immediately come to mind, though it all comes down to what you feel is more effective for your workflow. I do hope you revisit this sometime. NO (resubmit)
  23. I second Larry's statement on the quietness - it doesn't peak above -7dB. I understand that below -6 is often a requirement for albums, but mixposts here expect you to do the mastering part yourself. Please keep that in mind for the future. Looking at the arrangement, it's generally straightforward with 3 theme variations and some improvs. However, the range restriction of Josh's saxophone allowed for subtle pitch changes and some simple playing around in the later two theme variations. The setup of just bass, drums, saxophone and Furorezu's rhythm parts fit the surf rock style to a tee, and that makes it a unique take on the original. However, the execution does have some problematic flaws. Firstly, Josh's saxophone lost its direction during both the improvisations and the third rendition of the theme. I heard timing fell out of place in the first improv and the notation feeling too random in the ending. And then there's the third improv, where 1:47 sounded like he forgot to change his octave in the seconds leading up to it. Tal Tal is not easy to perform on a limited instrument, but it does help to plan the variations ahead of time to minimize slip-ups like this. I feel all 3 of these sections can benefit from a re-record if the original recording can't be spliced up. Secondly, the saxophone is not only quit in the mix, but its lower frequencies also bleed into the rhythm guitars and detract from its presence. Consider boosting its volume first, then figuring out any EQ changes if necessary. Breaking away from the saxophone and the low volume, the energy from the drums and rhythm guitars feel static despite the clear rhythmic changeups. Commercial Surf Rock records had used varying techniques to break up this kind of monotony, including drum solos, additional leads (typically organs) and other different rhythm lines. I understand this genre is Furorezu's thing, so it'll be great for him to keep listening to surf rock and watch out for new inspiring ideas. As it stands, my most significant issues with this submission are with the saxophone's execution and the quiet volume levels. Arrangement-wise, it's an enjoyable idea, but I do encourage Lucas to revisit the mixdown and potentially revisit the backing, and for Josh to go over his saxophone part. If you're up for returning to this track, then I'll be very excited over the direction taken. NO (resubmit)
  24. Interestingly, I had a different source breakdown in comparison to Larry: 0:04-0:34 - Clear source representation up until 0:19, and when the string melody dies down the bass from the source continues and the clavinet continues to do the familiar piano part from the A section of the source. 0:42-1:16 - coverage for source's B section. 0:57 has melody pitches being played around while keeping the rhythm. Deducted 4 seconds where the source is absent (the flute trills). 1:16-1:23 - Piano references C section of the source. 1:31-1:46 - Clavinet references C section of the BGM, leading into the e-piano doing the same thing. 2:02-2:05 - Strings reference C section briefly. 2:39-2:41 - Strings reference B section briefly. 2:47-2:51 - Strings reference B section briefly. 3:07-3:29 - The call-and-response between string melodies and flute flourishes return. 3:22 has the e-piano and flute referencing the C section. Again, I deducted 4 seconds of absent BGM. 3:33-3:41 - C section covered straight. Unlike Larry, I couldn't detect anything past the 4-minute mark. I still ended up source-short as well, with 125 seconds (45%). I did consider the bass initially, but that was before I realized the notation is too drastic to consider as straight source use. Elsewhere, you've got this lovely choice of instruments that all aimed for a playful journey through your unfamiliar genre trek. The improvs are smart, the framework is a clear A-B-A structure despite the musical free-for-all, and the instrumentation is cohesively balanced and full of expression. I also don't hear the same flute shrillness or pop issues. All I saw of the flute in my spectrum analyzer was its tone, and I couldn't hear the pop anyway. Nevertheless, lightness on the source is the track's biggest problem. Often I recommend artists to look at their original sections and see if they can add more source references. But Larry's idea of covering the bass straight is equally just as neat. Whatever you do to fix the problem, I can get behind this idea. NO (resubmit)
  25. It's not often that I hear Nuts add crazy solos to his work as his style is usually a lot more texture-driven. But in a synthwave arrangement like that, it felt like they were a necessity to maintain the high-octane momentum. Combined with his usual great production skills and an excellent choice of synth timbres, it's a well-produced fake-retro track that profoundly demonstrates his presentation chops. The arrangement relies more on the intro section of the source, but it's the most riff-driven and fitting for the genre. The solos at 0:43 and 2:50 are well expressed and both climax with brisker notation just before switching back to the source melody. The only rendition of the core part of the source is at 1:35, and even then the melody had been playing around with while still maintaining tonal familiarity with the original BGM. It's like a source melody that sounds like an original solo to the untrained ear - it's clever stuff. Again, no problems with Nuts's work here. Let's see it on the front page ASAP. YES