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SZRC - The Sonic Zone Remix Competition 2014 [TheGuitahHeroe wins - complete ZIP available!]

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I always get free passes in these compos. I got 3 in a row once. Apparently I'm cursed.

Yeah I'm trusting that Maxie will get something turned in though. He was really amped about going far in this compo.

Do we have any updates from a certain Mr. Hakstok? He hasn't posted in here since the matchups were announced, I think. :?

Yeah Ivan, how is your track coming? I was expecting to hear some jabbing at how you're going to get revenge on Amphibious from the SZRC 2012. :-D

I think we've heard from everyone else. Me, halc, and Amphibious are done, and jnWake and ladywildfire seem to be making progress!

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I finished my first pass of lyric-writing on Wednesday, and since then I've been doing some edits with the aid of Jason Covenant (helping me with lyrical flow and eq-ing my track) and Stevo (helping me write lyrics that are in the same vein as my original pass but much more ridiculous and full of Sonic-related innuendo). I'll probably do most of the recording tomorrow and reserve tonight for cleaning up the music.

Can't wait for you all to hear it so I can hear all of you collectively facepalm and fall to the floor laughing!

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To piggyback off Rexy's out-standing voting reminder post from the other day:

  • Flexstyle still has 2 matchups to vote in (Gar/DusK, Chernabogue/Arceace)
  • urdailywater also has 4 left (Tuberz/Sterling, Gar/DusK, therex/Dom and his own)
  • Shrackattack has only voted in the Chernabogue/Arceace matchup so far and would need to do the other 6 for that vote to count
  • wch090 is missing the Gar/DusK matchup
  • evktalo is missing the urdailwater/BlackPanther matchup

I'm going to try to post my reviews of this round tonight as well, as I'm going to be preoccupied most of this weekend. There may be a slight delay with getting voting results and Sonic Round 2 music up on Sunday, but I'll try my best to be timely.

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Robotnik Round 1 stream of consciousness reviews:

Tuberz: I love the lead guitar work throughout the piece. It’s got a great energetic driving feel to it. Well done. Source integration was really nice too. I was a little curious how you’d get these themes to fit together, but the arrangement was put together nicely. Mixing is a little muddy here, particularly with the background instruments and some of the rhythm guitar parts. That’s the only thing detracting from this otherwise very enjoyable song

Sterling: I know you struggled with integrating the sources, but good job still attempting and turning something in. That lead instrument you were working with had a cool sound, nice. The soundscape is pretty bare throughout the track though, particular as the song progresses. It could also benefit from some more solid and steady percussion. Keep at it!

Gar: holy crap man, didn’t know you had this 80s groove in you. I’m digging the vibe here totally. I can’t help but picture your dancing Robotnik image you posted right before the songs went up whenever I listen to your song now, hahaha. I love those little guitar flourishes and the backing synthesizer stuff. Totally rad. The arrangement felt a little bare at times, I kept expecting either a lead guitar (or a sax, like someone mentioned would be awesome) to come in and play a really song lead melody (e.g., 0:47, 1:40, etc.). Or vocals (OMG yes?). Arrangement could probably be tightened up to around 3.5 minutes too, things started to drag a little after that. Awesome work!

DusK: another completely unexpected entry in this matchup. I was expecting you both to bring the metal. I’m totally digging this tho. The driving strings really give a sense of epicness to the arrangement. It fits both sources quite well actually. Piano breakdown was really cool too, although the piano itself sounded a little dampened/muffled. A brighter piano sound would fit better I think. Nitpicks aside, this track was a lot of fun, nice job!

TGH: Nothing short of what I expected from TGH. I swear you have this genre mastered or something. Great source integration, nice instrumentation, and stellar production/execution of the dubstep elements (and the whole thing overall). Really fun track.

Eino: Man, I love the classic rock vibes this track gives off. The mixing sounds a little muffled; but I think that actually HELPs the vibe of the track, cause it actually gives it an even more ‘classic’ feel/sound. So whether or not that was intentional, nice job. You also did a really nice job integrating the sources and the guitar work was well done. Cool piece!

Therex: Love that intro. That crunchy bass works in the intro, but it started feeling a little off as the track went on – it didn’t quite seem to fit the otherwise very crisp/clear instrumentation you were using. Some big house pads seem like they might’ve been a better instrument choice there (outside of the intro), as they would’ve kept that ‘big’ sound but wouldn’t have had the crunchy after-effects. That dubstep-ish breakdown with the Sonic SFX was a lot of fun though – really dug that. Cool stuff… overall I really enjoyed this!

Dom: I know I already talked to you a bit about your track, but yeah I’ll echo the others, your lyrics are really cool and witty. Nice job. Just need to continue working a bit on your delivery – put more “oomph” and emotion into your vox. Also there are some clashing notes in the arrangement too – so continue working on that. Solid effort!

Theshaggyfreak: This song has a lot of charm to it. And for some reason really makes me think of a Mario Galaxy game (can’t quite place why). This sounds really good for using stock Kontakt samples too. I’m a big fan of jazz stuff overall, so I’m happy to see you go in this direction, and I enjoyed the arrangement. Fleshing this out with some live instrumentation would be awesome!

Flexstyle: Wow. This is the most sappy OC Remix related track I’ve ever heard ;) Awesome job integrating the sources, awesome instrumentation, and Jason’s vocals (and vocal processing) are spot-on. Not really my style genre-wise, but I can’t help but enjoy this track!!

Urdailywater: This entire track has a really cool vibe. I love the synth work and the piano and how they worked off one another. You arrange the sources quite nicely – the Spring Yard integration was quite clever. Nice job!

BlackPanther: I love the downtempo chill house vibe for Chemical Plant. It suits the source really well. I was totally grooving to this until the end. There were note clashes with the Spring Yard bit at the end that didn’t sit well and felt awkward. I know you were really short on time for this, so it’d be cool to see you clean it up over time and integrate the sources more and flesh this mix out. I think it really has potential!

Phonetic Hero: this track is downright funky sexy. Aquatic Ruin has never sounded so cool, haha. Not much to say here, awesome arrangement, awesome instrumentation, sweet breakdown section, and nice solo by Mr. Briggs. A shame there was no track for this to go up against!

Chernabogue: Aww yeah. This is one really nice orchestral mix. Wing Fortress was made for this. I really really enjoy the percussion work here – awesome job. I really like how the arrangement evolves during the piece, while still retaining parts from earlier in the mix. Well done, very enjoyable!

Arceace: This track is HEAVY! Dat kick and dat bass. Damn. Another great arrangement here, with some really nice instrumentation choices. I really like that lead synth and that wub-wub bass fits the soundscape perfectly. Good job not overdoing it. Two very different mixes in this match-up and both are really really enjoyable. Nice work!

Nice job Robotniks!!!! :-D

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Friday night, beers ready, half a song completed, let's do this.

I like the way this man operates :-D

I reallllly want to watch House of Cards all night instead of working on my remix.

Must. Resist. 8-O

OH MAN! I completely forgot that came out today. Since my mix is done, I know what I'M doing now :-P

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Tunerz - I feel like the lead guitar could be pushed back just slightly most times, and the drums could be beefed up. That panning synth could be a bit more in the background too. Those are very minor tweaks though. I'd say something about how the drums feel kinda mechanical, but anymore, if acoustic drums aren't straight up replaced, they're crazy overproduced, so it fits the style.

Sterling - Gotta echo some of the other reviews, feels pretty barren as far as the soundscape goes, though I didn't notice any red notes. Keep improving man

Garp - Ah man, I'm dying to hear some synth brass and some upfront screaming lead guitars to really nail the 80s vibe. 80s instrumentation/production was all about thickness and an enormous sense of space (especially in the drums), and this felt a bit sparse and weak to me. It should be up in my face, unashamedly flexing its oiled muscles and flipping its glorious golden locks :D

DusK - Man, if you invest in some good orchestral libraries and took some time to learn some intricacies, you could be a hell of an orchestral guy. Your writing on this one is already pretty good, but the robotic dryness drags the track down. If you get to a point where you've got some money to blow on music stuff, I REALLY recommend looking into some good orchestral stuff. I think it'd be well worth it in the long run for you

TGH - I didn't expect anything less, this is pretty badass dude :D The snare feels kinda weak, I was hoping it was just there for the intro and you'd bring in a heftier sample once the meat came in, but I can forgive it given all the ear candy going on. Dem tom fills, mmmmm

Eino - The classic rock feel is great dude. I'm gonna complain about the drums again.. the snare is just really odd sounding, and the kick has too much high end for the style. Older classic rock kicks are more of a *whump* than a *pud*, they've got a lot more low end and less of the high attack because of the softer beaters and the way they tuned the drums. The whole arrangement feels kinda subdued to me too, I guess it's a combination of the writing and the production in that there's not a ton of contrast between sections, and the balance (and even the range the guitars are playing in) was really similar for most of the instruments which keeps the track from having a strong focus

thesex - Man, I REALLY wanted some quarter or half note crashes going on for those halftime drum parts. They end up feeling pretty bare most of the time and it ended up being pretty distracting for me, especially since it doesn't feel like the low end was filled out much by your bass instrument. Beefier! I feel like I always want more low-end beef on your stuff. Just do trap next time, k?

BrothaDom - Haha, lyrics are really clever. There's a lot of odd harmony and most everything feels really dry. And where's the confidence man?! You ROCKED it on your track for SCD, I'm with DiGi - don't be afraid to cut loose, we all know you've got some damn good pipes!

TheShaggyFreak - Gonna say the same thing about samples that I did earlier, I think the sample quality brings the track down. But overall, this is a really fun and REALLY smooth jazz arrangement. It's just such a hard genre to replicate without ridiculously high quality instruments, unfortunately. But hey, the writing's great, and it definitely sounds like you're having fun. This would be awesome with a couple live players!

Flex & Jason - Dah man, those vox are amazing right off the bat. The processing is fantastic, and the soundscape nails that icy feel. Obviously the overall production is great. Wouldn't have expected anything else man

urdailywater - Pretty darn neato. I think this is another that'd benefit from having the bass beefed up a bit. The overall balance is a bit odd too and the arrangement seems to plod at times, but for the most part this was a fun listen :D I think I need better headphones to really sink my teeth in for a better critique, sorry I don't have much more for you at the moment

BlackPanther - Damn dude, I wish you'd finish this one up. I think some of the synth choices can be revisited and the sources could be a bit more carefully integrated, but damn that's a smooth one

Phart Face feat. Big Butts - Whatever who cares

Cherny - Nice and big and WHOA was not expecting those ethnic drums. Having them panned left feels pretty weird and lopsided, but I'm a sucker for ethnic percussion (SHOCKER). A lot of the articulations stick out in a bad way, mostly on the stuff where a single section is at the forefront (particularly the horns). The songs progression is pretty awesome though, feels really triumphant from the last third to the end. Yes.

Arceace - First of all how the hell do you pronounce your handle? Nobody was really sure during the OCR Talkback for Temporal Duality, and I'm sure we all sounded like a bunch of dummies :P Anyway! Holy chip leads, those sound great. I think the bass blips might have been a bit loud, they kinda pumped the lead parts out of the way. The sidechained pads are awesome. The complextro-ish chip breaks are also cool, might've been a tad loud as well though. I dig it! Plenty of beef here.

I realize I can't really comment much on source usage because I haven't actually PLAYED many Sonic games, so I'm not too familiar with the music.

I also apologize if anyone is offended, that's not my intent. I feel like I'd be doing you all a great disservice if I didn't give honest feedback. Good bunch of tracks, 'Buttniks

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Thanks for all the great feedback, folks! I'm planning to polish up my tune at some point. There's a lot to work on, and you're all giving me lots of great pointers.

I listened to the tracks via the Sega Mixer Drive, it was great fun. I gave some comments on the IRC channel so I'm pulling some of those here. Maybe a little harsher than all the kind constructive comments you other people have given here. No offense meant; I was glad to hear each of the pieces.


23:09 < Keskitalo> really liking how this piece is going, incidentally
23:11 < Keskitalo> I don't know the sources, but - assuming they're both prominent - they're really well integrated
23:11 < Keskitalo> mm nice bass

Sterlign Otiz:

23:13 < Keskitalo> I like the sound and the minimalism, there's a warped feeling to this
23:14 < Keskitalo> obviously not very high level skill, but some cool musical ideas

Garpocalypse vs DusK:

23:21 < Keskitalo> Hmm.. Garpo's piece was cool but felt like it kind of lacked the lead instrument, Dusk's was cool but the sequencing was mechanical and the partwriting was kind of static.. the backing didin't adjust to melody, it's like there should've been chord changes at points but weren't


23:22 < Keskitalo> Oh right, this is my match up right
23:23 < Keskitalo> I'm like "cool song, sounds kidn of familiar"
23:23 < Keskitalo> not my tune, but since it's the same sources -> duhhh
23:24 < Keskitalo> I wish I had been paying attention earlier during TGH's piece, I didn't listen to how Death Egg was used, but the Bridge Zone was really well used I thought
23:28 < Keskitalo> yeah, TGH's much better produced


23:59 < Keskitalo> I like the vocals, the backing is a mess frankly

(to elaborate: I really dug the vocals, but all the backing is really out of key)


00:03 < Keskitalo> Hmm, this is likely to be a touch pick, I like this a lot but Flexstyle's is going to be good I bet
00:03 < Keskitalo> tough pick I mean
00:04 < Keskitalo> that was a bit short I guess though?


00:47 < Keskitalo> nice electronic bass in the instrumentation
00:47 < Keskitalo> I always like fusiony stuff

Sorry for not commenting everything.


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Song completed. I gotta say, being able to play on my midi keyboard again (I couldn't on my old computer cuz it was slow and the latency was too high) has made this song a blast to work with. Well, besides the point where I got stuck mixing the second source in XD.

Arrangement done, polishing and submitting soon.

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