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OCR01353 - *YES* Final Fantasy 4 'The Sky Was Never a Limit'


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This is here mostly because I thought Chris might want feedback on his first mix which incorporates more orchestral elements. -djp

Hi,

This was a valentine's day remix I did for "goatess" of the prelude theme from final fantasy 4. It's a bit different from my normal style.

Here is the version under 6 megs:

Unfortunately it's a long song with some dynamics and the encoding to get it under 6 megs makes it not as good as it could be, but it still is good enough that I'd be proud of this version!

Thanks,

goat

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http://www.snesmusic.org/spcsets/ff4.rsn - "The Prelude" (ff4-01.spc)

Had this one included in the VGF50 set, so I was familiar with it. I think Chris does a pretty good job here, although his synth work could use more fine tuning to sound more realistic. There was one track in particular on his CastleVania 3 remix album, "Unchosen Paths" where he used a bunch of synth work (mostly strings) mixed with his usual metal stuff and the synth stuff just sounded incredibly fake.

All of the synthy parts (winds, brass, strings) could certainly flow a lot more naturally and sound more impactful. Nonetheless, it's good to see though that goat's not timid about doing a piece where synth work is such an important focus, as the performance here came together a lot better than "Emerald Ruins," and showed a lot of improvement on his part. I'm sure Chris is aware of shortcomings he has on that level, so I certainly hope Danny B & Gray break out some orchestration advice that would help things out for future works in the same vein, because if this were just a sequenced orchestration piece, it would have a lot harder time passing.

Looking at the big picture, I was definitely feeling the arrangement. There were so many well thought-out variations done on the Prelude, I was really impressed. Definitely was feeling how nicely the original sections tied together with the source arrangement. The transitions were interesting and generally functioned very nicely, though there were spots like at 2:05 where, for example, the horns could have sounded more powerful in order to create better tension and escalation.

Doing a brief breakdown of the track beyond the intro, some gentile orchestration gave way to the more militaristic original section at 2:05 before launching into an almost triumphant variation of the Prelude at 2:40 (beautiful ideas with the strings on support from 3:22-3:28). Another creative original section was worked in from 3:36-4:32 as the tail-end combined Chris's orchestration with his telltale guitar work and went for another go at the source material. Nice shift at 4:18 with the pizzicato strings moving to the guitar. 5:28-6:33 had another energetic original section to head towards the finish before closing with the arranged harp. Just a very intelligent composition all around.

So anyway, keep improving your synth work, Chris, and keep the hits coming. I'm sure goatess thought this was a wonderful piece, and of course I'm looking forward to anything you've got coming with Unchosen Paths and the Dwelling of Duels. Solid work.

YES

EDIT: Glad you liked "Toyota Disco" so much. Everyone loved it.

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  • 1 month later...

I would like to start this review with a preface. I love goat. There is nothing I enjoy more than injecting myself with a hot load of goat-ReMix-aggression. His arrangements wail in my car, through my computer speakers, though the very fiber of my being. I love goat. I hope this review conveys no disrespect.

The first thing I notice about this track is the sound quality. Sadly, I can't give this very high marks in that regard -

Harp - The harp is immediately a synthetic giveaway. Rather than a gentle crescendo/decrescendo, I hear soft-soft-soft-soft-LOUD-soft-soft-soft-soft. Like the velocity has only triggered on one note in the phrase. This gives an immediate impression of "OMG GM MIDI", and kills any mood-setting delicacy that could have been acheived. I think an overall volume reduction along with a much smoother velocity curve would work wonders. A different sample wouldn't hurt either, this one isn't bad, but it certainly isn't impressive.

Flute - The flute comes in rather abruptly, despite entering on the beginning of the measure. It sticks out of the mix, mostly because of the vibrato. It's raspy and over-pronounced. Also, velocity alteration is nigh-nonexistant, again not helping "GMMIDIitis". Cool phrasing in some parts with grace notes.

Strings - They enter nicely enough, and do well not to dominate the mix. However, the attack is way too long, and I get a pumping sensation from them. I like the chords being played here, but they've got far too much of a slow attack to really convey the progression effectively.

At 1:46, I strongly dislike the horn doing the arpeggio. Maybe it's a personal preference, but I have a hard time imagining that instrumentation in an actual orchestra. Who cares, you say? I think it sounds awkward and furthers the problem of the GM sound. Orchestration is just as important, if not moreso than the composition itself.

At 2:06, a rhythmic motif comes in that in a way, embodies my main beef with this mix. It's symphonic music orchestrated like metal. It sounds like it was directly transcribed from a metal band's take on the theme, especially with the eighth-note percussion crescendo that leads into the next part. At 2:41, we get to what is now essentially a rock ballad with orchestral elements. There's some nice ideas here, some interesting harmonies and such, but it's still heavily dependant on the rock elements, and the very linear, non(un?)-dynamic string lines that trudge on through the section. The section feels like it should be airy and free, but feels weighed down and cumbersome. It isn't as easy to listen to as it should be. The standard rock ballad drums don't help much. I think a more disjointed, rhytmically diverse percussion approach would do well here.

Overall, I'm just not feeling the combination here. It's got good use of rock fundamentals, and decent use of orchestra elements, but they just don't seem to mesh very well. The end is well done, and is probably my favorite part of the tune. It's got the most originality in it, and seems the most emotional.

The guitar is top notch, of course, as always. But even though I love that particular element, I think this track has a lot of work to be done, both conceptually and technically, before it should pass. Good job, though.

NO

-D

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That horn playing arpeggios has got to go. Sounds unnatural; as do the rest of the orchestral instruements (but not as much) Dan really broke it down well; a lot of GMish sounds, particularly harp and slow strings (which I'm guilty of using too).

The sounds work well together though, and the arrangement is quite nice. The addition of the guitar is great. The elements of the mix are clearly separated. I would have liked a fuller sound, especially around 3:40; sounds kind of sparse there.

Still, the overall package is pretty good. Above the bar in my book. YES

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Dan has very good comments, although some of them are overstated. generally speaking, i love the arrangement, and the piece sounds fine. Most of the problems have to do with sample quality.

could be a bit more polished, but it's a good arrangement and an enjoyable tune.

YES

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i think goat should take a good long look at dan's vote, there's nothing there i don't agree with.

however, i'm going to pass this.

the orchestral components are weak and rely on cliches,

the fusion with rock lacks creativity,

but despite these unsatisfying issues, this still manages to have more tension and buildup then most mixes we get...

yes

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this is one of those moments where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts...

as said before, i'll echo that there is not a whole lot in dan's review that isn't true. in fact, the orchestral aspects of this piece are cheesy as shit, goat. but you know what? i'd be damned if the song as a whole didn't make my underwear wet... and i'm sitting here at work trying my hardest to be a scientist and a OCR judge at the same time and... well... ugh, not working....

i can't no this. i just can't. its good... if i was goattess, i'd be humping you like bugs bunny leaving st. quentin after serving a 30 year assault with a deadly weapon charge...

i'm glad dan took the initiative to make this 6Y because that is where it has to be. but as of right now, its at 5

YES

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I agree to a degree with DanB here. I don't have much more to add that the others haven't already discussed, so let me go on a semi-tangent.

This brings up some very interesting and valid questions. Where are OCR standards for orchestral, piano solos, etc... While we do maintain high standards, there is still a level of accessibility we must maintain. This isn't the halls of academia or a tv scoring gig. Performance, technique, orchestration, theoretical knowledge, etc. are all important. But the spirit of OCR rests in my opinion on arrangement and creativity. This mix certainly has flaws and I could not agree with Dan more but the overall package of the mix is still comparable to what we pass - if not much better (an arguable point that isn't really a point of discussion here). Just as we don't expect a piano solo mix like we have passed in the last year to be Rachmaninov, we don't hold orchestrators to the same standards of say Tchaikovsky. (Yes I know this analogy is a bit overboard.)

As far as sound quality, it isn't really a problem though. These sound like pro samples, sounds like Silver, unless my ears deceive me. It's quite dry and there's no release trails, so you need to compensate by adding some reverb in my opinion, along with other processing to make the samples come alive. They are quite dry/plain as is apparent in here, but there are no sound quality problems...the problem as DanB to another extent stated is the very rigid sequencing and vanilla orchestration. Sample usage is the biggest problem not sound quality. Now that we've established Goat isn't Tchaikovsky... ;)

I think this boils down to great arrangement, neat conceptual ideas but the execution as far as orchestration isn't as realized as it could have been. In this case where the material/composition and arrangement is definitely well done and expanded - I don't think the bar is high enough where one needs to be an orchestration guru to pass. Of course, it doesn't hurt either that the guitar parts and performance are rock solid. Certainly goat can do some things to polish skills on other fronts, but this is a quality mix regardless. YES

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