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*NO* Super Mario Kart 'Racing Rainbow Road'


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Here's my latest track, "Super Mario Kart - Racing Rainbow Road." This was the song I had meant to do for your latest site unveiling, but I had to go to LA before I could finish it in time for the deadline.

I hope you like it. Let me know if you have any questions.

Mustin feat. William Reyes - Super Mario Kart - Racing Rainbow Road

Lead Guitars - William Reyes

Backing Guitar, Baritone Saxophone, and Piano - Mustin




OneUp Studios



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http://www.snesmusic.org/spcsets/smk.rsn - "Rainbow Road" (smk-12.spc)

First off I have to state that I like this track. It doesn't make my vote any more difficult, but I enjoyed it overall and had the privilege of debuting this track on VG Frequency while interviewing Mustin in September. Objectively speaking though, this mix does nothing particularly interpretive with the source material on a rearragement level most of the time and isn't an innovative or expansive straight arrangement piece either. That sounds a lot like my Donkey Kong Sunset vote, which I've now referenced twice in two days.

The orchestral opening of the first 30 seconds sounds great, and makes you think the arrangement is going to be a very different take on the source material, but then going into the meat of the track at :31, everything is basically a minorly upgraded cover. The voices in the SPC that comprised the meat of the original's melody and harmonization are referenced verbatim here. You've just gotta be more.

You can hear various instruments periodically pop in to embellish things, but aside from that there's no substantial creative expansion here when the Rainbow Road theme is being covered. Create some brand new harmonies and countermelodies to provide a more unique spin on things.

The percussion pattern was probably the only thing drastically different from the source, but it looped the entire time. Use drumloops as much as you want. I don't mind that badly myself. But provide some variations in the pattern to keep things fresh.

I felt the guitar playing throughout could be more energetic and expressive. The sax solo from 1:57-2:22 was well done overall but felt somewhat dry. Add some reverb to it. The piano solo from 2:23-2:46 sounded better to me, although I thought the last few notes from 2:44-2:46 sounded awkward. When you were on the air with me on VGF, you mentioned that William laid down his tracks pretty quickly. I would just recommend that both of you devote additional time to polishing up the delivery on the live work so it's at its best.

Nonetheless, providing the near-minute of original solos was a great idea that really pieced together very naturally with source material. Be sure to apply similar ideas on top on the source tune melody as well if you plan to keep the arrangement straightforward. Mixes by guys like bLiNd, Midee & Mark Vera are excellent examples of straightforward arrangements that expand their source tunes greatly.

I enjoyed this mix, but the live instruments could sound better, and the Rainbow Road arrangement could be much more creative overall, which is the main sticking point on why it's not YESable in the first place. It's not meant as a knock on the track, but this sounds more like a late-stage WIP, where more ideas sound as if they're going to be added. Good stuff, but it's gonna take more creativity to meet the guidelines here.

NO (rework & resubmit)

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This isn't a bad mix, but there are a few problems that stick out. Arrangement-wise there is not much going on, which in and of itself is not a big problem, but there is not enough variation in the instruments used to keep things interesting. For instance, the drum loop seems awkward and out-of-place, especially when combined with the good guitar playing. I would ditch that drum loop entirely and try a new one- though even if you decide to keep it, I would recommend putting more variation in it. I know you're capable of it, so I don't think there is much of an excuse not to. Getting back to my original point, you can compliment changes to your instrumentation with a more interpretative rearrangement (as Larry noted in his post).

I actually have more of a problem with the technical/sound quality aspects than the arrangement, though. While no individual part of the mix (besides the drum loop) is bad by itself, they just don't seem to flow together. The orchestral instruments, percussion, guitar, and synth parts don't create a pleasing harmony - not because of the arrangement, but because of the timbres. The uber-basic and boring synth lines are the worst offenders here, especially when they are placed alongside the high-quality orchestral instruments and the solid guitar playing. Go for some more interesting synths, because the ones you have now are bland and abrasive. If you really want to keep that texture, I would adjust the accompanying orchestral instruments so there isn't such a huge difference in sound quality.

This certainly not a bad mix, but until you spend a little more time on it by reworking some of the arrangement and instrumentation, I don't think this is passable. Resubmit! NO

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this one is tricky for me but i'm gonna use elements of the review i already wrote for this a couple weeks ago to work around it.

first off, i'm a little upset about some of the mood in this - the intro and outtro smack of cartridge music. the fanfare in the beginning is standard kondo and the ending left me scratching my head in between a yawn. it just sort of sputters especially with the buildup i was expecting.

the middle section which features the actual racing so to speak... is where the problem with judging this comes for me. its lined by an extremely addictive groove (albeit weakly eq-ed drums) and a funky bassline that is topped by at, varying points, a sharp console synth, a well performed but boring guitar lead and then mustin's sax. i just didn't like the guitar parts at all and i have a lot of respect for william as a guitar player but there was something lacking in this performance - i've heard him play better with a hand tied to the side of his head.

mustin on the other hand did well with the sax and all in all, i did think the mix's middle section worked well as a whole and there was no individual part that i could point my finger at and say "there. there's where you screwed up"

but i did walk away from this a bit bored after the second listen

now that isn't to say that it isn't quality and therein lies the problem with voting it a NO. i initially wanted to because this just lacks life in too many places to just YES it but how many quality, performed mario kart mixes do you hear? the orchestral sections may be boring to me but they are very well arranged and these guys bust out a middle section that relies on their performing abilities as musicians and is an impressive display of it.

still a


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Regardless of how I justify my decision here, I will be accused of Mustin-hate and publicly vilified. Here i go!

The beginning of the mix starts with a well-orchestrated section that shows a decent grasp of instrumentation. The sound quality isn't exactly top-tier, but overall, the intro is absolutely fine and is completely acceptable.

From there, it kinda goes downhill. The drumloop comes in from out of nowhere. It is, like zyko mentioned, poorly EQ'd. There is no kind of dynamic contrast whatsoever, both between the individual drums and the drumset opposed to the mix. It's a static drumloop among much better-quality recordings. And dude, seriously....quit with the crash cymbal every 2 measures...I mean, come on.

The staccato square wave synth hits like a brick wall. It permeates through the mix of mostly organic timbres, and sounds very out of place. Unfortunate, as a simple EQ fix would have blended it in much better and created a unique and enjoyable combination.

The electric guitar is decently played and arranged, I just can't help but feeling that it sounds....just off, a little. It's not out of tune, necessarily, it just sounds like it was recorded with a mic 10 feet away from the amp in another room. Basically, the guitar recording makes me cringe. The saxophone solo is nicely played. It's an enjoyable distraction, and shows a grasp of sax technique. The flutter is very abrupt and awkward, however. Also, the solo seems almost like it's in the wrong song. It fits the key, obviously - but we go from a pretty straightforward, driving rocktronica tune to what is apparently instantly transmogrified into a jazzy interlude. Very awkward, in my opinion. Might be a personal call there, but there's definately a style conflict going on here. The piano solo immediatly following is much more appropriate and effective.

The orchestral ending starts out fine enough, but ends with a shockingly low-quality timpani and woodwind tag. It sounds like an entire song in gigasamples followed by a Fruity Loops Timpani + woodwinds soundfont. It's a big sound quality difference. It definately leaves a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the track.

The main parts of the track sound fine with regards to the strings, bass and various harmonies - from a sound quality perspective.

Despite my critique of the aforementioned points, I think the sound quality is fine to pass. Definately above the bar. However, the most controversial of our guidelines is responsible for my vote here - adherence to original.

Besides the solos, and to a lesser degree the orchestral parts, I hear very little expansion upon the original. It is mostly a recapitulation of the original's melodic and harmonic ideas, with minor additions and subtractions to make it seem different. The fact that a drumloop runs the length of the track doesn't help at all. This track is a perfect example of how subpar arrangement can doom a song from OCR's mainpage. Nice production (except the drums and guitar), but we need a little bit more originality to consider this anything more than a high-quality cover.



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I wouldn't say the intro is well-orchestrated, it's muddy and just kind of boring. Anyway, that's not important. What is is that the mix tries to follow the original exactly with worse instrumentation and execution, beginning with a lead synth that sounds worse than the spc's, a semi-flat guitar part, a sudden solo sax section with awkward trills, a repeat orchestration for the ending, and of course, the drumloop. This is a cover, and it's a poor one at that.


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