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djpretzel

OCR01376 - *YES* Sonic & Knuckles 'Lava Reach'

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Hello DJP and OCR! This is Jivemaster. It's been 2 years! That's a long time to be away...

This is a remake of an unreleased mix I did back in 2001 that I wasn't overly happy with. I always wanted to do more with the song, but at the time ideas were scarce. Times went on and it was forgotten.

Anywho, I was rummaging through the depths of my unfinished remix archive and saw this in all its poorly recorded glory. Since I've been absent from OCR for the last 2 years, and my last Sonic mix was back in 2002 (shame on me!), I thought it was about time to release something again for all the people who have enjoyed my stuff in the past and for those new to OCR who may be saying "Jivemaster? Who's this Jivemaster fellow?!?". The people at OCR have been spoiled rotten with some fab Sonic stuff as of late, I hope they enjoy this too.

Remix title: Sonic & Knuckles Lava Reach OC ReMix

Game: Sonic & Knuckles

Track: Lava Reef Zone, Hidden Palace Zone

System: Sega Genesis

Original Composer: Howard Drossin

Copyright: Sega, 1994

Running time: 6:22

Quality: MP3, 128kbps

Link:

-Joel

www.jivemaster.com | joel@jivemaster.com

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Has anyone been able to get this? The link doesn't seem to be working for me.

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Has anyone been able to get this? The link doesn't seem to be working for me.

Works for me. I can host it here until it's judged.

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Thanks Harmony.

Jivemaster! It's been a long time man.

This mix is definitely hard-hitting, reminds me of the Battery mix. Love the dark sounds. However I did feel that the reverb was a touch too much on the drums in some of the really intense parts and it spoiled the clarity of the mix somewhat.

Not a big point, but I wasn't sure that the the chord structure fitted the melody at the 1.45-1.53 section.

Despite these issues I'm gonna yes it. Why? Cause the instrumentation and arrangement are stellar. Jive is back peeps!

YES

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http://www.zophar.net/gym/SK+SONIC3.RAR - 22 "Lava Reef Zone 1" & 23 "Lava Reef Zone 2"

http://www.zophar.net/gym/sonic2.rar - "Hidden Palace Zone"

I'm gonna put it fairly short and sweet (for me, anyway). Like Malc, I liked the arrangement but I also thought that the production and sounds were lacking. The cymbal activity in particular was way too trebly and prominent.

Using Lava Reef Acts 1 & 2 directly 1:30-2:00 & 5:31-6:17, I felt the arrangement there was too straightforward with just a whole bunch of muddy sounds surrounding it. (1:30-2:00 was the real culprit regarding clutter.) The guitar work at 2:00 was too muffled and needed to be more prominent, IMO. I don't mind an airy atmosphere here, but I needed a greater measure of sound separation and clarity. Obviously on the arrangement side though, there was a lot of time to go in other more interpretive directions, so I wasn't worried about that since the other ideas made up for it.

The arrangement was there, and I liked how the style changed up so often here, including Lava Reef Act 2 at 5:31 (though I didn't like the thin texture again). Some may say it dragged a little long or whatever, but I felt it was fine. Based on what I heard though, the sounds were a bit too thin sounding and default-ish, creating a relatively sparse atmosphere most of the time that I felt was overcompensated for with too much reverb. Lots of these sounds sounded as if they should have been fuller and more impactful. I know it's mostly a different genre, but I felt something like Battletoads and Double Dragon "Enter the Toad" had a cleaner presentation and richer sounds.

Sorry to NO, Joel, but it sounds like things need refinement/tweaking on the presentation side to give the atmosphere a little more clarity and the sounds a bit more depth. Hope you resub it, bro. As someone who appreciates the old school and the return of a former judge also, I certainly hope you're not discouraged over looking at it further, since I'd like to see you return to the front page.

NO (refine/resubmit)

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oooh, this is really synthy.

percussion sounds like it could be from some electroclash label.

other times this sounds like some old rave music.

so what's not to like about this?

first is the dynamics.

it's not so much that there's hardly any to speak of, but the mix is tightly limited and the percussion is overcompressed/distorted.

this causes much fatigue on my ears.

second is just repetition.

this does not have enough material to sustain interest for 6 minutes and 22 seconds.

third is the "ok i'm done!" ending.

even a fade-out would be better.

it's not bad at all, but if those 3 things are addressed i could pass this, or maybe i'd just find 3 other issues.

either way, a resubmit couldn't hurt.

no

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403 - FORBIDDEN!

the link works, but you have to copy/paste it.

in addition, harmony posted an alternate url.

try harder next time.

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Ok, I really like this. There’s some really cool vox in the first half (3:15 is tight), we go to semi-chill mode from 3:47-5:02 with really slick synth and pizz stuff going on and we enter full-on chill mode from 5:02-end where elements are thin but still engaging. Ending wasn’t cool at all but still a good mix as a whole.

There are a few things that would be so simple to correct that I have to go for a resub on this:

At no point did I think that the distorted guitar meshed well with the other elements. 0:56-1:15 it was out of sync. During 2:00-2:30 it was ok but overly distorted and loud. At 2:49 it was pointless. You get the picture. Try to better handle the guitar FX, levels and performance next time around.

Reverb is excessive as Malcos pointed out, especially during the first 3:47.

The chill mode ending section could be fiddled with to get some more interesting, even more engaging, sounds from those synths and certainly work on the ending.

It’s repetitive, but I don’t think it’s too bad; 6:22 is a little long for what’s in this mix though.

Fix these problems and you’re golden. Borderline…

NO Please Resubmit

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I agree with a lot of the criticisms here, but overall I think it's made up for by other things. Yea, it's too long. Yea, some of the mixing is less than stellar. But overall, there's a solid rearrangement effort here. It's creatively paced and arranged, and there's a solid effort at variation and dynamics.

Jive does well not to overdo the presentation, a lesser musician would have gone over the top on some of these passages and made a real mess of things. I like the restraint shown in certain sections.

It does suffer from a bit of a "videogamey" sound throughout, but considering the presentation, I think that's more to its advantage than anything. It's certainly enjoyable, and as always - the right amount of rearrangement will overcome most SQ issues.

Minor issues here and there, but nothing I can't objectively say is bad enough to warrant posting.

YES

-D

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Too much reverb! :(

That section in the middle drags too; a bit long, and doesn't really relate to the source.

I do like a lot of the sections, like around 5:00; awesome.

A lot of the sounds seem to lack hi-freqs.

I like the arrangement and ideas, but I have issues with the length and sound quality.

NO resub.

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I was going to write a longer write up on this a few days ago, but Dan came to the same conclusion that I was wrestling with for some weeks now. I agree to some extent with the criticisms noted, but at the end of the day, the arrangement here is just on the ball and the issues and problems aren't major enough for me to deny it.

But overall, there's a solid rearrangement effort here. It's creatively paced and arranged, and there's a solid effort at variation and dynamics.

...

Minor issues here and there, but nothing I can't objectively say is bad enough to warrant posting.

YES

-D

My sentiments exactly. Hope to hear more from you soon Jive. Do try to submit more than one mix per year, ok? ;)YES

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This is another tough one for me. There are some strong aspects that stand out, but also areas that just fall short of the standard. I generally like the level of interepretation - solid amounts of variation and original material. The originals came through loud and clear without overpowering the unique Jivemaster element. But at the same time, as a bunch of the other judges mentioned, it seems like maybe 3 or 4 minutes of ideas stretched over 6+ minutes. I think the mix could really be shortened down without losing the bulk of the cool ideas going on. It almost felt to me like 3:46 could have led to an ending, as the preceding section was built up well. The current ending is definitely lackluster and doesn't do the mix justice.

Production aspects are a mixed bag. The base timbres of a lot of the sounds aren't bad, but because of all the reverb, they sound mushy and duller than they should. Use different reverb settings for different elements. For instance, the pizzicato strings (which are decent at best, might look for a different sample there) could use a fair amount of reverb, but synths don't need as much. You could also replace a lot of the reverb with delays to create a spacious effect without muddying up the mix all that much. Also, there's sort of a lack of high end outside of the drums throughout the mix. Applying distortion, overdrive, and especially equalization can really help to brighten up certain sounds, provided you don't go overboard and make them too harsh. The 128kbps encoding contributes to the lack of brightness as well; this can be fixed by using VBR instead, which will keep the size down while preserving more frequency data.

I really like the percussive stuff in terms of sequencing and timbres, though the hihats/cymbals strike me as too loud in comparison to the kick and snare, which both get sort of lost in the wall of sound. Also, several of the synths simply sound too similar, such as the lead early on playing the Lava Reef theme and the "WEEEoooow" resonant synth. Try varying up the synth sounds a little more to make things more diverse and interesting.

Overall: this definitely isn't a bad mix, and I have no doubt it would have passed two years ago or so. As is, however, some parts of it just don't meet our standard. I recommend spending more time with it - tightening the arrangement, working on the production a bit more, and changing the final mastering to give a brighter sound.

NO but resubmit!

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people have written plenty on the pros and cons, so as usual i'll try to step back and cover the big picture.

The instruments do sound a bit cliched. i've heard them all before. with that in mind, i also feel like there were great textures and instrumentations. I wasn't a huge fan of all the leads, but overall the dynamics and the arrangement are well-planned and gripping. There's plenty going on but it never gets too crowded.

the biggest problem i see is that the ending sucks. goddamnit why cant people do endings? too sudden. too long a track to just drop. sucks. goddamn it.

at any rate, the arrangement is very well constructed. it's a good song with a sucky ending.

YES

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From: Jivemaster

To: Liontamer

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:26 am

Subject: Mix awaiting judgement - Sonic & Knuckles 'Lava Reach'

Hi Liontamer, just a quick message in regard to a mix of mine currently in the judging process - Sonic & Knuckles 'Lava Reach'. It has been in the judging process for some time now and a lot of other mixes have come and gone through the panel. I understand that you guys have a large backlog of stuff to get through, I'm just wondering when a decision will be made as to its posting or resubmission. Malcos informed me a few weeks ago that the mix was sitting on a 2:1 NO vote. If no one has anything else to say on the mix, I'd like the details on the rejection so I can work on a resub.

-Joel

EDIT: Joel's decided to wait on the rest of y'all, but let's get going with the remaining votes please.

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Sweet Ass-tapping Columbo, this is a long song.

So I'm last and everything's been said, and it's all been done, and other assorted Barenaked Ladies songs. So suck on this, and enjoy

A vast majority of good stuff > a craptacular ending

the end

yes

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i thought i was in for a long evening when it started (i didn't really like the intro... not sure why but it sounded tacky) but once the groove kicked in, the whole track seemed to gain charisma.

now looking back on the intro, i think it was quite fitting - had a very retro feel to it.

what's good: the arrangement is entertaining... it doesn't vary conceptually at all but it changes up on the listener enough times to keep attention.

i agree with zircon about the production. too much reverb on the synths... you stuffed as much as you could under the 6mb limit and it shows in the general lack of punchyness

the breakdown around the 4 minute mark and on is very key. could have possibly saved the track for me and kept my attention from dwelling on the production.

i don't see enough here to NO it. its a solid track and a very nice listen.

dug.

YES

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Hi Larry, this is Joel. Just got your e-mail in regards to Lava Reach passing the judges test, and I’d like to thank you guys for finalising the decision. However I thought I'd let you know that over the past couple of days I've been working on the mix a little and have been fixing up some of the mistakes which you guys pointed out, namely the reverb and EQ problems and the less-than-impressive ending. Before the mix goes up, would the judges or DJP want a quick listen of the newer version to see if it better fits the bill than the existing one? I know the song has already passed after a long stretch of judging, and I really appreciate it, but if I have successfully made the song better in the judges eyes by taking some the previous comments on board, I believe it would be worth the extra delay. I mean, a couple of extra days wouldn’t hurt, since it has already been a while anyway, and I do want the first mix I have done in a long time to live up to my previous reputation as much as possible. Let me know what you think.

-Joel

Of course, I thought revamping it was all good. Here's Joel with the final scorecard on what got tweaked and improved:

Shite! Sorry about that Larry - it's been finished for at least 2-3 weeks! Well here it is:

The following major changes (amoung others) were made:

EQ/Dynamics/Quality

·Volume of cymbals reduced

·Limiting roof eased

·Overall mix dymanics dropped 1db

·Tweaks made to the mid and hi-feqs of each instrument in the mix to give each sound more body and to make the mix brighter

·Guitar given a bit more of an edge through some EQ tweaks

·VBR/CBR encoding adopted to allow for better mix quality

Reverb

·Reverb on entire mix reduced to improve sound seperation and overall mix clarity and depth

·Reverb reduced on drums and other instruments

Arrangement

·Lead synths playing main Lava Reef melody added to mid section (3:35-3:50) to make the section a little more relevant to the source material and to make the part a little more interesting

·Ending improved (makes mix a few seconds longer however)

·Subtle bass added to end section of mix

·Removed some of the muting at the start - gives the rest of the instruments more room and it didn't work well anyway

-Joel

Now you're jivin' with power! Very solid upgrade here that's all about the YES now.

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