Jump to content

Deus Ex - A Coalition United


arglactable
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've recently ironed out a few major issues I had with showing this to other people, so here's my first attempt at a VGM remix. It's still rough, but reasonably presentable I hope.

https://soundcloud.com/andrewmushel/a-coalition-united

Source tracks are, in order of reference, UNATCO, Versalife Conversation, and Main Theme.

Edited by XPRTNovice
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a good start. Looking at the arrangement, there are some issues with dynamics and sequencing.

The first 1:38 in this is ambient, and even 30 seconds is long, so the pacing gets plodding by the time only a third of this portion is done. It's arguably repetitive, with very minor additions to add variation. Also, 1:36 is an abrupt transition; a dropoff followed by a fade-in is almost like fading out an unfinished song, to me. Up until 2:31, the pacing remains essentially the same.

The drums at 2:31 do help to raise the energy a bit, but the drum processing holds this back from leaving a heavy impression on the listener. The kick is barely present, while the snare sounds thin (lacking body and meat to the timbre). The toms aren't bad, but they have room for improvement with regards to their volume. These drums sound mostly unprocessed, other than perhaps room reverb and possibly *some* compression.

The rhythmic element at 3:02 is robotic; the velocities are all nearly the same, and it doesn't sound real. At 3:19, I'm not sure I get why you had the piano suddenly come in at the right. It isn't balanced by much else on the left. It's like this: you have a stereo image that is normal, and then something offsets the right speaker forward. The piano also adds a fair bit of mud to the mixing.

3:49, IMO, is an abrupt key change for no explicit reason; why is that something you wanted to do? What did it contribute to the piece? That said, the piano seems pretty good with regards to the humanization. Some parts seemed robotic (such as 4:17), but the reverb covers that up a bit. It would help the realism to overlap the MIDI notes. Something at 4:33 doesn't click harmonically though.

Overall, this arrangement has potential. The things I'm most concerned about are the dynamic curve, the arrangement pacing, the drum processing, piano processing, and the transitions. That's what I'd focus on. The production gets it done, though borderline.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hear a lot that a like, and some issues that certainly need fixing. It's a very good start and very much worth working on!

I really like what you've done with the UNATCO theme at the start (I've done an arrangement too), it's neatly rewritten but also very much recognizable. I do think it could use just a bit more textural variation/build up, such as more gradual fading in or filtering in the main elements, the main pad in the background ends up feeling kind of static despite the cool filtering thing on it - I suppose on micro level it has plenty of interest but in relation to the part it stays the same.. I didn't find the part plodding though, in my opinion it doesn't need a ton of work.

The cross-fade transitions are not good, it sounds like it's cross-fading from a piece into another. The transition between the two sources at 3:03 is very good.

1:38 it feels like the piece beings again, as in there are two intros after one another. I think there's a key change there between the parts, it might be easier to make the transition if they were in the same key.

The development from where the drums come in until the outro is pretty good, like I said the 3:03 transition between the sources is very good. The fake guitars are fake, I wouldn't say they don't altogether work though. The exposed guitar on 3:02 is indeed quite mechanical which I don't mind in itself but could use some velocity or maybe filter fiddling so it doesn't as much sound like the same sample repeated.. which in itself can be fine but a little variation would give that part more energy.

Yeah, the key change in the end feels quite strange, I don't get it. Without the key change and the cross-fade, I'm guessing it would mesh better with the previous part. I agree with timaeus that 4:33 sounds like there's some strange disharmony that doesn't contribute to the piece. Overall I like the outro, it's a good closer & the piano works well!

I felt the mix overall was perhaps a bit muddy.. subtle EQ:ing of the individual instruments to make sure they both stand out from each other and sit together better might be in order.

I like your instrumentation choice, I think the electronics+piano+rock combo works well for the arrangement.

Looking forward to an update! (oh and this Laser Ninja stuff is sounding pretty promising..)

--Eino

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback.

To be honest, the reason for the key change is probably just that each section is in the key of the original track (aside from the second UNATCO reference). I put most of this together a few months ago and just recently picked it back up again. Changing the intro might not be to difficult to mess with given that it just takes a whole step down. The ending wouldn't be much of a problem either. To be honest, I kind of like the way the guitar part falls away for the coda section, leaving only a synth in the bass that continues through, but I will look into revising that along with the first crossfade transition (which I do think is a bit awkward).

As for the guitars, you might say that's a "known issue," and it's the reason I put this on the back burner for a while. It's WAY better sounding than it used to be (it was truly awful), but the palm muting could definitely use some work. I don't think the issue is velocity so much as timbre.

The drums at 2:31 do help to raise the energy a bit, but the drum processing holds this back from leaving a heavy impression on the listener. The kick is barely present, while the snare sounds thin (lacking body and meat to the timbre). The toms aren't bad, but they have room for improvement with regards to their volume. These drums sound mostly unprocessed, other than perhaps room reverb and possibly *some* compression.

I agree that the snare is a bit weak, but the kick is about where it needs to be. A real bass drum isn't anywhere near as forward in the overall mix as the snare. I can hear the kick clearly on pretty much anything from my monitors to my garbage built-in laptop speakers. I'm really not sure what I would do to improve it beyond excessive compression. I don't want an EDM kick here.

I felt the mix overall was perhaps a bit muddy.. subtle EQ:ing of the individual instruments to make sure they both stand out from each other and sit together better might be in order.

I think one of the biggest problems related to this, as I've looked at the track, is that there are two arpeggiated synths playing in roughly the same octave with pretty much the exact same timbre in both the intro and the middle section. I need to work on keep those out of the same space in terms of both soundstage and frequency range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that the snare is a bit weak, but the kick is about where it needs to be. A real bass drum isn't anywhere near as forward in the overall mix as the snare. I can hear the kick clearly on pretty much anything from my monitors to my garbage built-in laptop speakers. I'm really not sure what I would do to improve it beyond excessive compression. I don't want an EDM kick here.

I actually didn't say anything about an EDM kick of any kind. All I said was that the kick was hardly present. You can hear it, sure, but it's not exactly strong, IMO. Not much bass from the kick coming through on my side, and I love me some bass. Hearing the kick in laptop speakers just means particular frequencies in the kick that are audible in laptop speakers match up with the frequency distribution of the speakers such that you can hear them. You don't need excessive compression. Parallel compression could be enough. I'm not saying you should squash the dynamics, I'm saying I'd prefer you make it more punchy. You don't have to overdo it. Not my goal here. I know this is a nitpick, but a bunch of nitpicks could easily add up to a dissatisfied listener. Audience subjectivities are unpredictable IMO. :tomatoface:

I'm not trying to discourage you, or bash on you, or anything like that. Just aiming to help here. You don't even have to work towards fixing that kick on this track. You could even say you'll keep that in mind for future tracks, or something to that effect. Anything that conveys you as an open-minded, non-aggressive person. :)

Edited by timaeus222
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The intro sounds great in terms of the arrangement, and even though it's my own personal taste, I think it would really bring it alive if the bass frequencies were more present, the percussive elements were less subtle (especially the clap at 1:17, and not disregarding the percussive bass), and the piano was louder (such as 1:12).

1:37 - 2:45 was a good development. I like how the arp had a filter LFO to add some sense of dynamics to the synthetic element.

The kick and snare are definitely stronger. :) At 3:20, the percussive arp is less mechanical than before because of the LFO you have. At 3:29 though, the guitar strums on the right did feel stiff compared to the other parts. At 3:50, while personal taste, the synth playing the lead has a timbre (TB-303) that typically gives it the role of an arp rather than a lead. Maybe a different choice could work more effectively. Something more majestic or soaring, perhaps.

Overall, much better than before. Great improvement. =)

Edited by timaeus222
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The mechanical rhythm guitar strumming and piano sequencing. If you don't have a guitar sample library, it's kinda hard to get rid of the machine-gun effect. The piano is easier to fix. Just add more variance to the velocities (slightly increase the deviation magnitude from each other, but not randomly. Slightly lower the quieter velocities), partially overlap the notes, and very slightly offset the note start-timings.

This could be helpful to hear the difference between entirely humanized piano and not.

https://app.box.com/s/vg1qxcnbc1wx6vpdmrm4

Edited by timaeus222
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

https://soundcloud.com/andrewmushel/a-coalition-united-final-cut

Again, I've made a lot of small changes (mostly in mixing). I think, I'm pretty much done modifying the track at this point. The only way I think it's going to sound much better is if I invested in some commercial software/samples to replace all of the free stuff I used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I think the key change in the end works now, you fixed the strange transition into it. I think it has a point of highlighting that section and distinguishing it from the previous part.

FWIW I think your sounds are fine apart from the mechanical guitar. Lots of very nice sound design / soundscaping / effect usage I think. I think the guitar as a sound works much better from 3:30 onwards.

The track sounds pretty sparse around 1:36-2:46. The section is pretty long. It's mostly the bass line and some spicing, and I feel like there could be a lot more of textural interest there to keep the interest. 1:53-2:03 with just the bass & the low synth do work on their own, it's pretty cool how it's stripped down to that, but overall that section feels pretty empty for how long it runs. I'd recommend trying to trim it length-wise and also add some smart ambient textures to it, even very quiet (high passed?) light percussion touches could work.

Lots of improvement, if I recall correctly! Very enjoyable track as it is. I'd still try to work on the long sparse section. Another idea would be to perhaps ask around for a guitar collaborator?

--Eino

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the feedback. Glad to see it seems like an improvement (the first version I posted sounds like complete garbage by comparison, IMO). I'll think about ways of potentially adding some interest to that section.

Honestly, given how much work I've put into making the guitar not sound horrendous, I'm not feeling hugely motivated to do much else with it at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No source link, no source comment. Well actually, I simply won't dig up the source to check it out, I'll go by memory. Good for you that I've been listening quite a bit to the Deux Ex soundtrack lately.

Simplistic arrangement. Nice style, but feels like too much of a medley to get on ocr. Transitions are abrupt and theres few elements carried over from one part to another.

Not a fan of the fake guitar, cheap sounding drums and note clashes 3 minutes in.

Has a nice mood. Needs work on the production side of things to meet the badass potential I hear in it. Needs work on the arrangement side of things as well if you're aiming to get it on ocr, since it's too much of a medley, and the parts themselves are (unless I'm misremembering, which is quite likely) quite conservative.

I think you should just up the production stuff and make this a badass, non-ocr remix/medley. You've got a great atmosphere already, and fixing up the production will only improve it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...