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Chrono Trigger 'Zeal Theme' (Atmospheric DnB)


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This was started almost right after the Midna Remix and I've already had 3 or 4 upstarts on a Zeal Remix that never went anywhere but this time around its a bit different. The mood I'm aiming for is one where all of the elements blend together and so far I think its coming along quite nicely. Anyway, WIP2 (I skipped WIP1) below:

http://media.putfile.com/Zeal-Remix-WIP-2

EDIT: I must confess also my attempt to emulate some of the things I did in the Guardia Forest remix JustChris and I worked on, although I definitely wanted this to have a more synthetic feel.

EDIT2:http://media.putfile.com/Zeal-Remix-Final Updated

EDIT3: http://media.putfile.com/Zeal-Remix-possible-final-2 Updated again, based off of some comments I've been receiving.

EDIT4:

bmdl

Final version?

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Nice, we need more dnb remixes around here. Don't have time to break this down properly for now, but I like the sounds used for the most part. Beats sound crisp and clean. The background chimes doing the main Zeal riff seem a little on the generic side. Maybe try dirtying them up with some glitch or stutters, might sound cool. Arrangement wise, the main Zeal riff gets a little stale after a while, and a few of the bass note choices seem a little suspect. Might just be me, though.

Overall though, cool mix, nice production, maybe try some unique instrumentation (esp for the main riff) to make it your own.

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Nice, we need more dnb remixes around here. Don't have time to break this down properly for now, but I like the sounds used for the most part. Beats sound crisp and clean. The background chimes doing the main Zeal riff seem a little on the generic side. Maybe try dirtying them up with some glitch or stutters, might sound cool. Arrangement wise, the main Zeal riff gets a little stale after a while, and a few of the bass note choices seem a little suspect. Might just be me, though.

Overall though, cool mix, nice production, maybe try some unique instrumentation (esp for the main riff) to make it your own.

Thanks. Now when you talk about the "main" riff I'm assuming you mean the "Sitar" part, correct?

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So I listened to what Audix said, switched up the main riff a bit, and possibly finished the arrangement. I felt a need for a second drop since I was still aiming for a DnB theme but whenever I started making it I just really dug the bare-bones of it, so I added a little speech sample to the mix.

So, I dunno, you all may hate it. The updated version is at:

http://media.putfile.com/Zeal-Remix-Final

(Its not really final, putfile just hates question marks)

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A lil more movement in the background before the drums come in for the intro would be a nice touch.

The instrument for the first melody sounds pretty cool and goes with the theme but sounds a lil too plain. Would work really well if there was a section immediately following that had a grittier more in face instrument for the melody layered in.

The organ was an excellent choice when introduced.

Overall the mix has a lot goin for it. While it is fairly atmospheric the wall of sound syndrome starts to take affect later on in the song. More filter sweeps and movement in the background would work wonders.

It would be wicked for the DnB drums to be more syncopated with the rest of the song. For things to really click. Using sections where things feel a little "heightened" and climactic, even ever so slightly, would help smooth out the arrangement. I'm not saying to make some big orchestral breakout, but just some harsher tones and layering to help the give the soundscape a little more variation.

This is really an awesome idea and I am digging it for the most part. BUT it needs to be kicked up a knotch. Some more ear candy that will let the listener wanna hit rewind. Or even some more surreal ambience stuff to help the listener melt away into the song.

Glad seeing you back around these parts dude!

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STRUCTURE

[x] Not enough changes in sounds (eg. static texture, not dynamic enough)

[x] Too repetitive

[x] Abrupt ending

PERSONAL COMMENTS (positive feedback, specifics on checklist criticisms, any other thoughts)

So certainly a cool idea, and the production of this over is pretty good--definitely your strong point. I'll run through this chronologically (LOL CHRONO LOL)

I like how the zeal ambience and the actually zeal motif don't line quite up, which was something I thought I wouldn't like at first--but it gave the track a cool washy feel that I certainly dug. However, I do think that there is too much of the zeal motif. Dropping it out at 1:28 was a good choice (and the transition into it was great!), same with dropping your drums earlier--but up until 1:28 I still think it's too much. Most of my frustration comes from the fact that it's only one one chord--it goes through like 3 or 4 other chords in the original. I think a bit of harmonic variation will help you a lot. When the drums drop out at 1:06, it sounds like you're trying to make a return to this motif--except you're not returning to anything, you've been there the whole time.

The drum stuff at 1:28 is pretty sweet, but I'm mad that the zeal motif comes back after hearing it so much. Putting it on a different instrument would help a lot, if you want to keep it there. I'm not crazy about the instrument playing the melody, but that's just me. Perhaps using velocity to create a better flowing phrase would help?

I think the organ at 2:26 is another good choice, but I would like to hear some more dynamics with this. 2:51 is glorious on it's own, but once again I think the effect is spoiled by the repetition of the zeal motif.

The speech is cool. What's it from?

3:41 hits and I'm not really hearing anything I haven't already heard. Once again, having the drums drop out leaving the organ around 4:45 is cool. Neat speech again--but I can hear the white noise in the background cut off abruptly. Unless this is the effect you're looking for, I would say give it a quick fade out.

I really believe repetition is your biggest crutch here, my friend. The drums were a bit repetitive for my taste, but I can manage that based on the style, and you did make small embellishments throughout the mix. But 1:28-1:39, 3:08-3:40, 4:36-5:03 are the only times where we don't hear that motif (and I'm counting the ambiance in the beginning as that motif) - that's 1:20 of music that does not contain that motif. Your mix is about 5 minutes long--that's a lot of time to have the same lick playing over and over again. That, combined with an overall static texture causes listeners to loose interest. You do some really great things though within this mix, between your drum programming and eq effects, and I really dig that bass line! (despite it also being very repetitive--that's the one repetitive element that doesn't bother me.) I would encourage you to be creative with how you handle your material in this mix. Once you state the zeal theme, change it up, write something original based on it. Or have different instruments play it, have different instruments play the melody. The cool stuff that you do at 1:28, 2:51, 4:45.. they all show that you have an ear for variety and that you are trying to keep the mix active. However, I do believe that this is going to need a lot more variety before passing the panel.

Keep working at it for sure though, don't let this massive review bog you down! Once again your ideas are totally solid, and your production skills are great (given that I'd like to hear you work with phrase, dynamics, and velocity more). I think the arrangement itself has a good balance between being conservative and liberal--it's really just the structure that needs work. Good luck with it, and post an update soon!

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Brief suggestion (as I'm still reading over Doug's review and listening) - update your first post with the latest version of the WIP... don't make people scroll down to see if you posted a new ver. Saves hassle.

Edit: OK, listened through. I have to agree with many of Doug's comments. There is a lot of repetition in terms of the primary Zeal riff, and very few chords used. In my opinion, atmospheric DNB really benefits from those extended chords, going into 9ths and 11ths, sustains, quartal stuff, and so on. I think you could have moved the harmony around more in that respect. Perhaps this would also encourage you to do some more with the Zeal melody and/or use more riffs. This is not to say that this is too conservative - it isn't, but it feels somewhat simplified, and there isn't as much meat as there should be for a mix of this length. Shoot to add more harmonic & melodic material, and/or consider shortening the track overall.

I'm only on my laptop speakers, but from what I can tell the production is really ace. As I said to Doug in the chat, I'd say the drumwork is impeccable. You did a great job here. This would be a strong sub overall, and while I'm not sure it would necessarily receive a YES, it's definitely close to the bar. I'd like to see you go back to this and work on it more. Good luck!

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Wow, first I want to say thanks to all three of you for commenting so thoroughly, especially three different people who are top notch at different elements of remixing (production, arrangement, etc.)

Also, just for reference, the hotpants loop is that one that comes in at 2:23-2:51 and 4:14-4:41. You'll know it because suddenly there is a lot of high end in the song.

Summary: Turn mix up a notch.

I I was trying to pick out specific comments in your post but most of them equated to this, which isn't a bad thing at all. Everyone who has commented on this mix has mentioned something about the main lead sucking, so I guess its back to the drawing board for that.

I also tried to make things more epic towards the part with the organ before the second drop, with the drums kicking a lot more and the hotpants loop but obviously that wasn't enough.

STRUCTURE

[x] Not enough changes in sounds (eg. static texture, not dynamic enough)

[x] Too repetitive

[x] Abrupt ending

I understand the static texture complaint, and avaris also referred to it as well. Right now I'm trying to add a bit of variety to the pad thats going on, especially during key parts. Also, its going to be a lot more active in the second half of the song than in the last version to help fill up space a bit more.

Also, I've cut down significantly on the Zeal motif that you referred so much. I haven't really cut down on how much of it is in the intro, but on both drops it only comes back in once the hotpants loops kick in, trying to give it a more epic feel at those key parts before the breakdowns.

I kind of like it in the intro simply because I'm still aiming to make this as much of a legit DnB tune as possible, and usually intros are kind of throwaways until the main drop hits, which is why there is not much movement there. I know this is OCR and songs have to be styled a bit differently but bLiNd managed to pull off something similar with his Mt. Gagazett remix so I'm hoping I can squeak by.

As for the abrupt ending part, I kinda want it to end right after the speech ends, but I kinda wish the speech went on a little longer. I was mainly hoping for a speech about how ancient civilizations have died out to give this piece a bit more perspective (like how basically the Zeal Empire imploded itself) but I settled for a TED talk (www.ted.com) on civilizations that were dying out and that was probably the most relevant sample from it.

This is not to say that this is too conservative - it isn't, but it feels somewhat simplified, and there isn't as much meat as there should be for a mix of this length. Shoot to add more harmonic & melodic material, and/or consider shortening the track overall.

I'd prefer not to shorten the overall length, but I am now working on more melodic material (specifically on the second drop). I may also go a bit more nuts on the organ part as well because I kinda tipped that I was going to do something awesome there and didn't.

I'm only on my laptop speakers, but from what I can tell the production is really ace.

Coming from you, that means a lot

</gush>

But yeah, big ups to all of you and hopefully I'll be back with something at the very least slightly more kick ass.

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hm maybe making this song transition into Schala's or Queen Zeal's theme later on would help vary this song up by a lot ;-)

Otherwise I really like the soundscape and (duh)atmosphere you've set up here. Good drum samples, though I think they could stand to vary up a bit more.

Good job insofar man.

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I like this quite a bit. I have been listening to a ton of DnB lately and this is quite smooth. The main melody is quite understated, but i like that. It's a subtle touch and makes the piece all the more atmospheric when added to the ostinato and such. I think a little more tension and release is in order as well, but don't overdo it. I like the chill vibe of the whole piece.

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Everyone who has commented on this mix has mentioned something about the main lead sucking, so I guess its back to the drawing board for that.

I hope you are not referring to the Sitar, because I like it. The real issue here is, as was stated before by DrumUltima and zircon, the repetitiveness of the zeal motif. It's very short, and playing it over and over and over again becomes somewhat grinding. I really thing that varying this up is what you need to pay the most attention to.

The spoken parts add a certain something to it, but the "white noise" at the very end of the song (again, Doug mentioned that before) is a little annoying. You might want to try to let the music go on for as long as the speech and cut them off at the same time, or let the music drop out after the speech is over.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The opening sounds like it's got a sound quality problem (can't put my finger on what kind), though apparently that's some effect you deliberately chose to put over it. I guess it's alright!

Since I'm a critical sort of guy: the whole first section, with the percussion and main progression, makes me want to critique this negatively ("it's just verbatim Zeal with percussion!"). However, when 1:28 comes in, it turns into a really cool style. Because of that, I'd have 1:28-1:39 play longer, before that main Zeal melody commences. Extending it like that would really have affect on many more people. It would make critical people less critical about the song as a whole, imo, as it did in my case, because it would bring something new to the Zeal theme. So, once they'd hear the entire song and go back to the beginning, they'd enjoy it a lot more. (Kind of like the first synth lead part of Beatdrop's new mix before the 32nd notes.)

I don't enjoy vocal clips. Unless maybe they were put under some effect. Effects make EVERYTHING better :D. Lots of songs use just plain voice when they could easily make things more interesting by putting it under an effect that compliments the rest of the song. I mean, if vocal clips are even necessary at all.

Ending is good. Reflects that 1:28 section.

As for production, it's good enough...

...Though, if choosing to go the extra mile on your current sound-producing capabilities: it could be more open, bigger and fuller (comparing to all those l33t electronic artists out there). Volume as voltage/amp'age REALLY makes a difference in any song ever. After all, if you can't hear a song('s details), why bother listening? With my headphones plugged directly into my computer's slot, and everything imaginable at max volume (no headphone amp), there's a certain oomph not present in this that's present in a lot of retail electronic music. Though obviously don't make it clip, should you decide to experiment with volume. And I'm sure there's something more to do with it than volume (ala maximizer), but that's not exactly my strong point.

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The opening sounds like it's got a sound quality problem (can't put my finger on what kind), though apparently that's some effect you deliberately chose to put over it. I guess it's alright!

The ambient arp (as I shall now call it) has a decimator/rate reducer on it, that could be what you're hearing. That and there's just a lot of attack/release on it.

Since I'm a critical sort of guy: the whole first section, with the percussion and main progression, makes me want to critique this negatively ("it's just verbatim Zeal with percussion!"). However, when 1:28 comes in, it turns into a really cool style. Because of that, I'd have 1:28-1:39 play longer, before that main Zeal melody commences. Extending it like that would really have affect on many more people. It would make critical people less critical about the song as a whole, imo, as it did in my case, because it would bring something new to the Zeal theme. So, once they'd hear the entire song and go back to the beginning, they'd enjoy it a lot more. (Kind of like the first synth lead part of Beatdrop's new mix before the 32nd notes.)

Maybe, I'm also a bit concerned about the length at this stage though, because while 5 minutes is short for a Drum and Bass song, its quite above average for an OCR song. I'll try it out and if I like the idea, I'll keep it.

I don't enjoy vocal clips. Unless maybe they were put under some effect. Effects make EVERYTHING better :D. Lots of songs use just plain voice when they could easily make things more interesting by putting it under an effect that compliments the rest of the song. I mean, if vocal clips are even necessary at all.

I have to admit the vocal clip on this song was cheating a bit because nothing fills up a mix like a human voice and so I mainly used it so that the less interesting parts wouldn't be so dull.

As for production, it's good enough...

...Though, if choosing to go the extra mile on your current sound-producing capabilities: it could be more open, bigger and fuller (comparing to all those l33t electronic artists out there). Volume as voltage/amp'age REALLY makes a difference in any song ever. After all, if you can't hear a song('s details), why bother listening? With my headphones plugged directly into my computer's slot, and everything imaginable at max volume (no headphone amp), there's a certain oomph not present in this that's present in a lot of retail electronic music. Though obviously don't make it clip, should you decide to experiment with volume. And I'm sure there's something more to do with it than volume (ala maximizer), but that's not exactly my strong point.

First off, I have no idea as to what you are talking about in the whole "voltage/amp'age" thing. The reason why you don't feel as much oomph comparably is because this is mixed very laidback, when what a lot of electronic artists do (in fact, I'd say a good 95% of tracks aimed at the dancefloor) is mixed very very aggressively with a lot of compression and limiting. In this mix, drums are the only thing breaching a -3dB peak, with bass hitting about -3dB exactly, with every other major element at about -7dB tops, with the main going steady at -15dB! What all of this basically means, is that there is actually more dynamic range to this song than most electronic songs. Not knocking songs that do that at all because I can't get close to a Danny Byrd or Noisia mixdown, but I'd be uncomfortable pushing it into the red and using the same techniques in this particular song.

That slight rant over, this will be somewhat "mastered" before being submitted, so maybe your problems will be addressed after that. Who knows.

dude this sounds a TON better! I still maintain my complaint about the repetition though, although it doesn't bother me as much anymore. Nice work!

Eh, I'll try a couple more things to fix that.

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I'd checked out the earlier version, very nice turn around.

I still disagree with the vocals; they don't fit with the song's feel or the original content, and feel out of place and unwelcome. It's a deal breaker for me, the only thing preventing me from downloading it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hmmm too lazy to read all the posts cuz its late, but I think that the starting pad is kinda harsh. I've been yelled at by the jdfgs for having bad pad samples, so if you want, try to find one that doesn't sound quite as grating. (it's only harsh at the start more-so, because its exposed, so yeah)

Otherwise, this is pretty damned good. Very nice shakers for the drums too btw...I want the sample for those lmao. Good luck with the judges man :D

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sorry this sounds really bad. at the beginning theres like really bad distortion i dunno if this is supposed to be part of the song or not if it is it's really bad

Time for drumultima's first ever FEEDBACK FEEDBACK CHECKLIST!!!!!!!!!!!

OCR-SPECIFIC QUALIFICATIONS

[x] Does not critique in regard to the WIP Review Checklist

[x] Does not critique in regard to the OCR Submission Standards

GENERAL HELPFULNESS

[x] Does not distinguish between objective and subjective criticism

[x] Not enough clarification of criticism using specific examples

[x] Review does not represent entire work in progress

EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS

[x] Does not attempt to offer ideas/suggestions for improvement

[x] Does not attempt to clarify artist's strong and weak points

OTHER

[x] Horrible Grammar.

Helpfulness: .5/10

Essentially all that the Vagrance is getting out of this review is that somebody doesn't like the remix for some reason, and that they think the effect he used in the beginning of the track may be an accident, and if not he doesn't like it, once again, for some reason. This doesn't actually tell the Vagrance anything that could not only help him get a submission on OCR, but also help him as a remixer in general. All this says is that somebody out in the world doesn't like his remix.

Please keep this shit off of the wip boards. If you're going to review a mix, please post feedback that will HELP the remixer improve. There's nothing wrong with not liking a remix, but please be prepared to indicate exactly WHY you don't like it, whether you feel your complaints with the remix are subjective (not your style) or objective (there's been a production/compositional error that needs to be fixed), and what the artist can do to improve. Otherwise it's a waste of time and space.

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You know what? I have nothing bad to say about this mix. It really reminds me of something off of the Musashiden II Blademaster (PS2) soundtrack (If you haven't played this game, or heard its soundtrack I strongly suggest you do.)

So, I'll just sit back, and wait for this to be posted on the front page.

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