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Castlevania - Wicked Chip (chiptune/drum 'n bass)


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A drummer friend of mine wanted to create a drum 'n bass-ish groove for Castlevania's Wicked Child song by using the original game song and adding some sub bass to it. I thought we could do better and I started covering the song from scratch. As always things got out of hand and it turned into a groovy chiptune DnB combo with live drums of Wicked Child with vocoded voices.

Source:

Final version: https://soundcloud.com/jorito/wicked-chip-feat-erik-vreven

Earlier versions:

V1: http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150223.mp3

V2: http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150225.mp3

V3: http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150301.mp3

Had some problems with getting the vocoder voices understandable, so here's the lyrics: Wicked child / In the lair / Dracula /See you there. Even tho the vox aren't that great it adds a nice tapestry to the song ;)

Edited by Jorito
Final version
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Pretty groovy! Lovely drumming, and a nice, varied arrangement with initially a dry "narrow" chiptune soundscape, but branching out to include more varied and "advanced" sounds.

In a sense, I thought the drums could've been a bit more forefront in the mix. I'm not sure if it makes sense, but I also thought they're a bit stuck in the centre and could be wider in the mix - some stereo sweeping during some fills might be a nice effect.

I thought the arrangement had a pretty nice ebb and flow structurally, growing and then going back to the basics, or more restrained part here and there. And I agree, the vocoded vocals add quite a bit, it's a nice texture - I think you don't recognize them as vocals unless you pay attention and that works just fine.

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I thought it was pretty good; I think it just needed some more refined balancing of levels and stronger drums. The main chip synths could have had more reverb and had their volume lowered, and the remix overall might have benefited from master track compression to glue everything together. The Reese bass was a little narrower than the rest of the soundscape, and the kick and snare (and occasionally arps) were buried under the lead.

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Thanks for your feeback guys! I guess this is what you get when you have been mixing all night and decide it's done without listening back the day after with fresh ears.

Most feedback makes sense and I'll do checks on normal speakers (95% of this was done on headphones). Not sure what Timaeus222 means with 'stronger drums' tho, they seem pretty strong here :)

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Not sure what Timaeus222 means with 'stronger drums' tho, they seem pretty strong here :)

I'll chime in here. I think the biggest problem with the drums not hitting hard enough is that the fundamentals of each drum (that is, the lowest frequency in their spectrum) aren't present enough. It's most apparent in the snare (and toms, but they don't play all that often) - there's a lot of upper register without much oomph on the lower end, so it's a bit tinny sounding, y'know? The kick seems like it's had some of its lower end boosted, but the fundamental (usually reeeeaaally low for a kick) is still a bit absent. Try beefing those fundies up, and maybe add in some compression to give them that "large and in charge" presence, if you're comfortable with it (though just as a note, I usually do compression before additive/boosting EQ)

Aside from that, my biggest issue is that the bass in general is pretty lacking, and it *is* drum and BASS afterall! Pump that bad dad UP!

Hope that helps :)

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Thanks for all the helpful feedback! Guess I got caught again in my unrefined skill and lack of interest in mixing :P

With these pointers I think I can squeeze a bit more out of it, the stuff on the fundamentals is much appreciated as well as the reference track. Guess my quest to seek a happy medium between drums that fit with chiptune and pure DnB drums needs some more work. It's back to the mixing board for a few more edits :)

BTW evktalo, the drums were from an electronic drum kit so I have pure MIDI and layering is not a problem.

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To explain pH's comment on adding compression before EQ, it's so that the EQ itself is what you did, and the EQ itself is not boosted by the compression in a way you may/may not perceive as distinguishably different from what you want to hear. In other words, generic compression (i.e. not multi-band compression) boosts everything, and anything that was already previously boosted in the same signal chain is affected more so than anything that was not.

It's a minor point but nevertheless is something you should know to keep your mixing clean. ;)

Edited by timaeus222
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I already knew that :) It's mostly not my lack of knowledge holding me back, but more a lack of skill and practice :P

Anyway, I worked some more on the track, keeping all the feedback in mind. Here's an updated version:

http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150225.mp3

Lots of small changes, like new drum samples (and layered too), some rebalancing here and there, side chaining the kick and vocals, licks of reverbs here and there, removing some duplicate notes in the drums and some other stuff. I'd appreciate some more feedback if this is generally moving in the right direction or if I foobar'ed it :)

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Better! The bass is a little simple (it feels like a subby square wave or something), but it's an improvement. The glitching is pretty darn cool. The drums improved a bit too. However, the same issues of the drums not quite punching through are still there. So you're sidechaining the kick and snare with the bass so that they make the bass duck? I'm not hearing it that much on them. It would help to apply some tasteful distortion to strengthen the fundamental of the kick, and a little bit on the snare too. I did a review on digitalfishphones endorphin on my website, with an audio demo for it, and I think using that plugin can help bring out the high end punch in the kick. Also, if you want, maybe you could make the snare sound "bigger" by adding some reverb to give it an "airy" reverb tail in the upper treble.

Moving over to the vocoded vocals, yeah, I can't understand them, and it kinda bothers me. Did you try them on a lower octave to bring out their buzzy quality? You might find

helpful on getting vocoding to pierce through better and sound more interesting. Edited by timaeus222
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Thanks for checking again. Some remarks before I start work on the mix again:

- the bass is a combination of a NES bass sound and a sub (a 2 osc sine wave, one osc pitched down 12 semitones). I want the NES bass sound to remain there (it's chiptune after all) but will see what I can do with the sub, maybe some different waveform for the higher osc and/or some lfo.

- I'm only sidechaining the kicks with the bass, not the snare. Will recheck the settings and do some more listening to see what's happening here. Distortion might help indeed.

- endophin is of no use to me since I'm on a Mac :)

- I'll probably rerecord the vocoder stems (currently it's more a quickly recorded temp track and could use a bit more TLC). I didn't find zircon's vox that audible either btw :P

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Upped the ratio and threshold on the bass sidechain a bit and added some saturation to the high kick:

http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150226.mp3

More changes later this week ;)

(yes, I'm aware the ending cuts out too soon, I was a bit too hasty with exporting...)

Edited by Jorito
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I was able to work on it a bit more, so here's a new version:

http://www.jorito.net/files/Wicked%20Child/Wicked%20Chip_20150301.mp3

Changes this time:

- new vocoded voxes, new vocoder, processing and sidechaining to make them clearer (hopefully)

- added another osc with some modulation to the bass to make it more gritty and less boring

- increased sidechain level for the bass/kick combo

- new synth lead for the solo including some more extreme modulation and pitchbends

My tired ears think it's all pretty good now, hope y'all think so too (and I hope my ears agree tomorrow too :P)

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The sidechaining is woefully apparent at 0:05, 0:23, 0:50.. but it's really there throughout. Fresh ears needed!

The new vocoded bits sound good (though I didn't have a problem before).

Nice vibrato & pitch bends on the new lead in the middle!

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Damn, dat sidechain, so obvious now! ~15db reduction wtf :P Did a quick change of the compressor's threshold and release settings and overwrote the previous version. Much better now I think.

Edited by Jorito
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MOD REVIEW

Ooo, a fun, fast, chiptune-ish track? Sounds like it's right up my alley :wink:

Lots of fun, lots of energy and well produced. Can't say it's easy to find much wrong with this one, right now. I feel the drop in energy at 2:18 is a bit unfitting considering the amount of buildup to 2:07 that happened moments ago, but I don't think that's a deal breaker. Sometimes the vocoded sections sound thrown in, since they're not really used consistently in the track, but I personally like them anyway. The inconsistent use will probably ding you a little, but then again they ARE kind of cool.

Regardless, I think it would pass as it is, even with those minor gripes. Best of luck on the panel! :-)

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Cheers for the review and the point you brought up about the energy dropping is a good one; I'll keep that in mind for future remixes. Off to the panel it is, in 8 months we'll know what they think of it :)

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solid tune. i think it could be a bit of a coin toss as far as judging goes, though i don't know the policies/philosophies these days as far as more core chiptune arrangements go. i happen to like the dry sound with the drums beefing it up. seems very intentional.

vocoder touches are nice. 1:35 break very cool. bass sound mashes well with the chips too. the judges in my phantasy say it passes. ;)

Edited by Nase
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