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OCR03332 - *YES* Breath of Fire 2 'Jaded by Death' *PROJECT*

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Game: Breath of Fire II
Composer: Yuko Takahera 
Remixer: HoboKa
Album: Bad Ass Vol. 3
Death Evan's Theme
Remix: Jaded By Death
Description:
My new interpretation Jaded By Death is finally here.  After what 5 or 6 years from my previous attempt - and it's for the Bad Ass Vol.3 Album, no less.  I believe that I have come a long way;  pu_freak, Timaeus222 and Chernabogue gave me plenty of sage advice on the composition and production, and after about 12 versions in, I'm finally done.  On a final note, pu_freak wanted something dark, brooding and evil sounding, so I obliged him...
 

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Five or six years on this remix?  Wow... well I'm glad you stuck with it, and you got some good help and advice as well.  I'm finding this moody and creepy!   I like the drums you've used, are they Damage or Evolve?  The organ sounds epic.  The choir is a drop loud and could use a little more reverb and a little less in the midrange but is is working.  The string arps could be a touch louder.  I hear plenty of source and lots of variation.  Some sections go on a bit long with whole notes, like 1:53-2:10, but that's a nitpick.  The drums sound a little louder than the rest and sound slightly pasted on top, something to consider for next time.

 

The mixing isn't perfect here but it's working well enough.  The arrangement builds nicely into excitement.  The cool down at 3:03 is downright eerie!  This is a very cool track, I'm impressed, nice work.  That pitch bend at 3:48... love it.

 

YES

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I always know I should expect something creative from you, Alex, and this is definitely no exception. Nice and cinematic, with a great atmosphere. I second Chimpa's complaint about the drums being a bit loud in comparison to the rest of the project, but it's not so much so that it kills the track. Another issue I have is that a lot of your string runs seem behind the drums a bit--that's usually due to a too-slow attack on the string patch, or just not sequencing it slightly ahead of everything else to compensate. This is obviously not done with an actual orchestra, and if it were sans drums and fun percussive work, I'd probably NO this. As it is, the entire package is cohesive enough to pass muster--to use a cliche, it's definitely greater than the sum of its parts. 

 

Mixing is adequate, arrangement is creative and solid, instrumentation is adequate--you're getting a pass from me!

 

YES

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I found a lot of Breath of Fire 2's soundtrack tone fairly bland, and this track is no exception. I think your approach is definitely a more interesting take of the melody, and it was much more fun to listen to than the source. You added some near embellishments to the melody that I think overall work pretty well here, and I have no fault with the arrangement side of things. I found the transition at 0:45 to be pretty smooth, nice work there. I also think I'm hearing some sort of whispering or moaning on the left side around 2:42. It's a nice touch and could actually be a little louder.

I can't say I'm as on board with the production here. A lot of the synths feel really blocky, which definitely pulls me away from being immersed in the track. To some extent the blockiness is forgivable since the original has some similar sections, but I think here that following that style choice clashes with the other elements you added to your track. The others also mentioned the timing on the choral patch, but I'd also like to make a note that the sample itself really stands out as being fake. Some of the other synths also stand out a bit, but the choral ample is the biggest issue.

I think you're really on the right track here. The arrangement is good, but I think the blockiness and the samples are bringing this down below the bar. I'd love to hear you revise this a bit. Good luck on the rest of the vote!

No (resubmit)

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to echo DA, not a big fan of BoF's bland OST and this tune is very much on par with the rest of it. that said, i'm impressed you were able to squeeze any manner of cool from it

first the good. the track has good organizational dynamic; its parts change consistently, don't ever get boring and builds intensity which is ideal for a boss theme (and again very much an upgrade over the original source). it has fairly unique instrumentation to be sure; the drums for example feel a bit too loud in the soundfield... and yet, they work really well in spite of it. their writing is good. very eerie production

 

now the not so good. that sound design is struggling. it's unique, no doubt, but like others have commented on the choral patch, it can sound jarringly fake and blocky. there's an aesthetic value to that, of course, if you were specifically going for something that sounded like it was literally made 2 decades ago but otherwise, it really cheapens what is otherwise a cool arrangement. 

this is resub territory for me. 

NO (resub)

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while I agree that there are the above mentioned production/sequencing issues, the arrangement comes together nicely. personally, the percussion & organ entrance struck me as fake sounding, but the piece builds interest with cool changeups and layers. the dynamic shift at 3:03 is a highlight for me. throughout the piece, I hear the production as being a little rough around the edges, but I ultimately have to say

 

YES

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I didn't hear a lot of connection after the intro and before the second half, when the themes are strong, but the string runs are straight from the original and it has enough connection. The cool instrumentation and great dynamics are the highlight here, and make up for the minor flaws with the sequencing. Alex's song painted a complete picture for me and I'm happy to give him (IIRC) my first YES on one of his tracks. It's great to see people progress as songwriters and Alex's determination to improve has carried him a long way from where he started.

 

YES

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Good tempo shifts; the choir was fakey but fit well enough, and the drums were a touch loud but the patterns were powerful and interesting. The arrangement was solid, and while the ending felt abrupt, the mood and expansion of the source was well done without meandering. Sequencing overall was good enough, and I think the strengths of this outweight the weaknesses. Good progress and determination on this one.

 

Yes

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Way to bring some energy and excitement to a pretty underwhelming original track.

 

Liking the concept of this one.  There are some production weaknesses present.  Some of the percussion hits sound a bit on the lofi end and didn't mesh well with the rest of the track.  As Andrew mentioned, the choir isn't super realistic, but it gets the job done.

 

Cool beatwork around the 3:15 mark.  This may be my favorite section of the track.

 

Mixed bag of cool writing and energy with some production issues that could be tightened up, but on the balance I'm on board with this one.

 

YES

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On the plus side, I liked the cinematic approach. Other than the vox being problematic and some textures not clicking 100%, the sound design's ambitious. Cool intro with the crystalline SFX. Vox opening at :09 was OK, though the organs at :20 sounded too squeaky clean, and so it sounded awkward when the organ chords would drop and empty space was left; at :31, the volume of the padding was raised to help mitigate the issue.

I thought the unrealistic choir vox sequencing/articulations were an issue (e.g. :00-:19, :44-1:02, 1:19-1:53), and should have been smoothed out, so I'm with DragonAvenger and zykO on that. The string sequencing also had some tightly-timed moments, though 1:02-1:19 had a pleasing string sound for sure. Overall, I'm with them that the overall timing of the vox was blocky and silted, with 1:19-1:53 being the worst (and most extended) offender, and that this dragged down the execution on a production level.

Not sure what was going on with the writing from 1:36-1:53 also; it was a variation of the verse melody, but the combination of the lead and supporting string writing didn't sound right at all. The textures from 2:09-2:25 didn't click, mostly due to the percussion not being the right fit, but it was a brief passage. Smaller detail, but the change from the verse to the chorus at 2:40 didn't make sense. If you're transposing the verse, why not transpose the chorus as well?

I'm not trying to make the perfect the enemy of the good. I think it's a solid WIP that mainly needs vox refinements before it should pass, and tightening up other brief issues of odd textures and writing would be a bonus. I'm in the minority, as it's not a bad track and it plays to the strengths of what makes Alex's arrangement work, i.e. not changing the melodic structures, but meaningfully personalizing the sounds/instrumentation.

NO (resubmit)

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Cool Arrangement, really nice dynamic shifts, great mood building, some production issues, other judges pretty much covered all the bases... 

 

w/e, gets my WillRock stamp of approval - LETS GO

 

Also, wanna say hoboka - Nice work on improving your craft over the years. This is swell.

 

YES

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Super borderline call, I can see why this split the panel. I will start by saying that this is bar-none HoboKa's best solo attempt to date. There are still some lingering issues that have plagued his past subs - most notably, the sequencing and unrealistic/dry or poorly mixed instruments (choir sounds fake, organ sounds rigid and dry) bring this down a notch. However, I found that the areas you improved on (exciting drum samples and sequencing, the way you built up dramatic tension) carried more weight than the problematic parts issues. There were some legitimately cool moments in this track, such as the final choir pitch bend, that were just awesome and really kept me engaged with the remix.

In this case, the good edges out the not-so-good. I'm happy to co-sign with your first official solo mixpost - your progress hasn't exactly been meteoric over the years, but the small improvements you've made over time seem to have finally helped your execution catch up to your ambition. I admire the effort you've put into constantly improving your craft, I think you made a few big leaps here that really impressed me.

YES

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I like the atmosphere here, great job on creating a very specific mood. Great direction, the arrangement is awesome. The textures and the structure are great. I like the slow, progressive build-up all the way to 3:03. I personally feel like the ending cuts a bit short on a slightly unfinished idea and I'd have liked to hear a bit more.
 
The strings samples sound slightly lackluster to me. I really like the percussion work throughout, and the organs and choirs are great at keeping the ambiance dark and eerie.
 
A few slight bothers, but overall: good arrangement and good production.
 
YES

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First, source amount seems enough, the original is recognizable here.  I have a few issues with this track that put it below the bar, mixing and structure.  The drums are powerful, well spaced in the stereo spectrum, and interestingly programmed, however they are too loud, taking way too much attention from the overall mix.  The overall ambiance feels muddied because it's too drowned in reverb, which is affecting the low end quite a bit, and the low end is quite busy already.  The instrument quality is not bad overall, and could work but needs better humanization.  Most of the instruments feel very static and unnatural.  I'm not a fan of the percussion element that appears at 1:19 and on.  It's very distracting and doesn't fit very well with the rest of the percussion, and it doesn't fit where it appears later on either.
 
Second is structure.  Lead melodies take the backstage to percussion elements and arpeggiated staccato strings.  Segments such as 1:20 should feel like a climax but they don't.  Transitions are often abrupt and lack much needed buildup in energy towards a main section (2:25 as a good example).  I also think that the section after 3:03 feels a bit unnecessary.  The build up to this moment was great, and would've made for a perfect ending where you trail off the bass and maybe a final note in your choir instrument, but I don't see the point in extending the song for this section.  Although I think structure could be better, it's not enough for me to reject this.  But what definitely needs improvement are the transitions.

I think most of the problems in this track stem from the mix.  Try to make the instruments stand out more and reduce the drums.  They are very cool, it's true, but you also want the arrangement to shine.  Work on having more clarity in your sections.  Perhaps a choir alone isn't ideal to carry the lead melody, try a single instrument and let the choir help it along.  Work on your transitions, try to make your climaxes/choruses stronger than your bridges and verses. 

For now I have to say NO, but this track could work with a balanced mix and some small improvements in the transitions and structure.

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Well, this is a straight up interesting take, from the get-go. It's haunting, yet it drives the source forward relentlessly. It's obvious that the dissonance is intentional for the sake of atmosphere, and I love it; not all music has to be 'pretty'. The voice leading, though - how you move from chord to chord - throws me off a bit. While the dissonant sound isn't so much an issue, how you get from one chord to the next doesn't quite click 100% throughout, making the chord changes sound a bit janky. I like the dark direction that it was taken, though, and the harmonies used do enhance that atmosphere created in the track, so in this case I feel it's not a deal breaker.

The overall production quality is pretty good. A few of the instruments are a bit low quality (like the choral strikes placed throughout), and the string arppegio in the background don't sound very humanized, which can occur when there's a lot of copy/paste without adjusting the velocities and attack envelopes individually. These issues are not breaking the track completely, though. The mix sometimes drowns the melody, as well. Overall, though, this doesn't do enough to take this below the bar.

This one's a close borderline "YES" vote; while the voice leading could be a lot better, the less traditional harmonies help mask that. The track produces a solid, creepy vibe, even with it's flaws, which is what I think the track was going for, and I thought that was neat.

YES / BORDERLINE

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