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Sonic & Knuckles "Azure Blaze" Lava Reef Remix


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I've had Zircon's "Identity Sequence" living in my car's CD player since last December, and I can hear the subtle influence. I'm getting a "The End" vibe from your remix, yet you've done plenty of your own thing with the remix and it sounds pretty darn original to me. I've definitely not heard "Lava Reef" done quite this way before either, so props for taking a relatively popular source and doing something new with it.

The guitar intro is sweet. Nice ducking under the strings. No complaints on the strings. There's a good amount of complexity here, yet the mix is perfectly clear and not muddy at all. The drums could maybe punch through a little better as the song gets busier, and the lead is a little loud, in my opinion (more on that in a second), but over all the mix is very clean. Very nicely done.

I do find myself turning the volume down because my ears can't take the high volume and frequency of the lead synth. I think that the volume could come down on that, consider dropping parts of it 8vb, or maybe try a softer "falsetto" kind of effect on those high notes (play with filters and/or harmonics). Right now, the lead is sort of "piercing" to me at times, and when I turn it down to a comfortable volume, I can't hear the rest of the arrangement as much as I'd like. Also, the lead could be more dynamic. There are many sustained notes which hold the same pitch statically, where you could add some vibrato or swells in volume (but be careful, as noted above) to make the lead sound more alive. A common technique for sustained notes at the end of a phrase is to hit them fortepiano and then crescendo, gradually increasing the speed and intensity of the vibrato at the same time. For a synthetic instrument, you can create vibrato by modulating pitch subtly with an lfo, and varying the degree to which the lfo is applied to the synth, as well as the speed of the oscillator.

The remix might be a little light on source usage until the 1:00 mark. That could be a concern in terms of meeting OCR's "50%" rule. The chords are there, but I'd recommend tying your remix to the source sooner and a bit more overtly. Maybe try playing some fragments of the source melody with some light ethereal bells with a healthy amount of delay (just for example). You don't have to totally break up that nice slow build you're doing, but I would recommend sneaking in some source early on, even if it's just a faint echo. If you wait too long to quote the source, the listener might forget what exactly they're listening to.

In terms of over all structure, the dynamic curve doesn't move a whole lot. The first minute builds nicely, but there's not a lot of variation in over all dynamics after that until the end. There's a little shift in action when the lead drops lower at 1:22, but otherwise the dynamic curve is fairly flat from 1:00 to the end. Maybe considering substituting instruments in and out (more dramatically than you already do), maybe include a quick breakdown and then build back up, or anything that could break up the action a bit more. And on a related note, if you plan to flesh out this remix some more, I think it could use a more definite ending. My motto (which I didn't invent, but rather picked up from someone on OCR so long ago I forget who it was who originally said it) is "fade out = cop out," which is perhaps a harsh way of stating that I simply am not a fan of fade-outs. To me, it's like when you're having a group conversation and someone tries to sneak out of the circle by backing away slowly, still facing the group... it's kind of awkward, like a sentence that runs on without a punctuation mark. Okay, now I'm really going off the rails. Point is, end strong. "Strong" doesn't necessarily mean "big, mean, nasty and loud," but "with confidence" and a definite statement or purpose.

The instruments you've chosen sound great together. And everything sits very well together in the mix. Whether that's due to your initial sound selection or whether you EQ'd and panned the heck out of them to make it work, you've done a great job. Nice counter-melodies with the other synth at 1:02 and with the piano at 1:46. I really like that there's so much originality in this piece, and it's especially impressive considering the popularity of the source. I've nitpicked a lot of tiny details in this post, but I enjoyed listening and your remix has a lot of good things going for it. My over all impression is that this is good work.

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for the critical review crypto! It's pretty rough posting on a site where everyone is pretty much more or a less a professional in audio production. There is clearly a lot to learn and with every piece of criticism I receive I am certainly taking notes. A lot of it is hard to take in at times. but I can agree with 99.9% of everything you said so I'll put that advice to good use sir! Thanks again for the honesty

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