GSO

2. ready for review Zelda:Majora's Mask:Cleansing the Tower of Babel

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MOD REVIEW

Ooo, a source I am completely unfamiliar with (never got around to playing Majora's Mask). *Goes and listens to the source*

Alrighty, I see where you're taking this one. Replace the source with more "live" instruments, shift up the source rather than repeat it precisely. Unfortunately, for the sake of submission, I think this is too conservative for OCR. The structure is roughly the same, and the melodies and counterpoints are nearly note-for-note accurate.

Very spiritual, very soothing, but I think it would be rejected on conservative grounds, though. It'll be nice to see where you can expand a source like this one, though. :)

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Well, it still sounds fake, and also disjointed. Sorry. The low strings are cutting off in between certain notes. Also, whatever stuff you have playing in the low end is cluttering with each other. It's quite difficult to distinguish their notes. The velocities mainly sounded like things were being hammered and slammed. The plucked harp-like instrument towards the second half sounded odd playing the double notes. It's as if it was a stutter rather than a repluck. Yeah.

And I think it would be helpful if you wrote more than [insert link here] or some concise sentence that says nothing more than "Here's a remix".

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Fixed in the sense that it doesn't sound muddy, but it's still too fake. The bagpipe-like keyed instrument just makes the arrangement feel dragged on, and this doesn't sound like it has a structure. It feels directionless. When you do play around with the source, the main motif seems repeated quite a bit.

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Yo, I really dug this track. I especially like it after the 1:30 mark....really like the direction in it. I listened to it a couple of times. Seriously, good job.

If I may insert some small criticism:

1: On certain notes, the velocity seemed unnecessarily too loud (see 1:00min mark), minor adjustment on these similar sounding velocity notes throughout the track, and it's good stuff, yo.

2. I feel like some "slight" increase on reverb on the main drumming percussion would add more to the track.

Also, on the 1:05 mark, I feel there need's to be some reverb on the plucking strings -- I feel like it would add a lot more.

3. The volume does seem rather low. If you like, I can do some quick mastering on the track to increase the volume for you. Just hit me with a message and I'll give you my email.

Other than those small nitpicks, awesome track.

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non-eval-opinion:

The pizzicato strings don't line up. At all. It's distracting enough that it's hard to focus on other issues with the track. And there are other issues, some structural, some technical. But I won't be going into details now.

It sounds like a frozen track wasn't rendered anew after a tempo change. That's the only reasonable explanation I have for this. Sort out the pizzicato strings timing/render issue and get an update up for eval.

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It feels like there's a solid concept here, and on the positive I do like the vibe from it. It does feel like it sticks fairly close to the source material, something I myself have a problem with. Really, my biggest critique is that the song feels like it goes nowhere and feels long for the sake of it.

For me, there was far too much repetition. The only thing I remember from the song after having listened to it twice is the bass line, which mostly stuck because it played the same measure on repeat. In the source the bass line is used to drive the song, it sets the chord under the lead and helps push the rhythm. By having a punchy, loud bass with  strings over it, the emphasis feels like it was pushed on the bass and doesn't carry the song. With so much focus on the bass, everything else kind of fades into the background as a kind of soupy mush of noise.

My advice in general would be to lower the volume slightly on the bass, and maybe opt for a tone that's not so clicky on the attack. The drums also sound like they should be more distinct, right now it feels kind of like a rumble underneath the music. To combat the repetitive nature of the bass line I would experiment with more variation of instrumentation throughout, using tone to move the song rather to maybe feel minimalist to begin and more textured as it continues.

As I said though, the vibe is great, and with some tweaks would be a chill, relaxing listen. Look forward to hearing more as it progresses

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eval:

I'll bring up the tracklist for a neat overview of the things I think would keep this from passing the panel.

ARRANGEMENT / INTERPRETATION
[X] Too conservative - sticks too close to the source

PRODUCTION
[X] Too quiet *low priority problem, solve the other problems first
[X] Low-quality samples *technically it's bad processing, with badly distorted bass, repetition of the same drum sample throughout...
[X] Unrealistic sequencing (particularly acoustic instrumentation, e.g. notes use the same velocities, mechanical timing) *very mechanical sequencing
[X] Drums have no energy
[X] Mixing is muddy (e.g. too many sounds in bass, middle or treble)

PERFORMANCE (live recorded audio/MIDI parts)
[X] Wrong notes, general sloppiness *velocities sometimes jump a lot

STRUCTURE
[X] Lacks coherence overall (doesn't "flow" enough) *there's no clear direction for the track, things just appear and drop out seemingly arbitrarily
[X] Not enough changes in sounds (e.g. static texture, not dynamic enough) *dynamics especially; while there's some change to the overall dynamics when tracks appear or drop out, there's no discernible reason for it
[X] Too repetitive
[X] Abrupt ending *in the sense that there's no climax or breakdown for the end, no reason to believe the track would end there

The stone tower theory is a fun old piece of fan theorizing for Zelda, and makes for a cool theme for the remix. I think that's the biggest strength of the track at this point: the theme. You just have to figure out how to convey it.

I find that the writing is the biggest problem here. The track doesn't seem to know where it's going. There are instrument parts entering and dropping out throughout, but the track don't seem to signal any of this, so it sounds arbitrary. A change in drum patterns, dynamics, melodies, or other things can signal a bigger change coming up, such as a mid-track breakdown or a chorus/"big" part. Without that signaling, it just sounds random.

Relying heavily on a regular rhythm for the writing also hurts the track. Everything in this track seems to happen on a regular subdivision on the beat. No syncopation, no deviations from the rhythm, none of that. That regularity can be used to some effect in some contexts. It doesn't work for this one, though.

It brings to mind GSlicer's take on the same source(s), which is also conservative, but has that cool groove handling the dynamics and flow of the track. This lacks that kind of distinguishing element, so I'm instead drawn to the source elements... which get repetitive. There are a lot of source elements that you don't use. I can only clearly pick out the simple 14-note ostinato from source, though it's possible the strings are playing something source-y as well. While a minimal use of source can work just fine, it takes a lot of skill to do that well. I think this track would benefit from a few more melodies being used, whether verbatim from source, or adapted, or original stuff written to fit with the source bits.

There's a bunch of technical problem, but mix/sound design is probably the one needing the most work. The sound is best described as "raw" or "vanilla", with little balancing and processing done. That comes off as lazy and/or newby. With some EQ separation and enhancement, and appropriate reverb, the sound would be a lot better. Work on that.

Keep learning, keep trying.

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