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*NO* Chrono Trigger 'Masamune'


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Revised version 12/6/15

Howdy

Game: Chrono Trigger

Source: Frog / Magus

 

 

(Just the intro is at 2:00 in the remix)

Title: Masamune

Link: 

I'm a fan of Frog (Glenn) and his quest to wield the Masamune to defeat the Magus, among his other various goals. I wrote this on a whim Saturday (September 20th, 2014), recorded the guitars on Sunday and reamped them on Monday to finish it off. Mixing and mastering is a little tricky when the instrumentation is so thick with the orchestra, but I struck a good balance, kept the orchestra kinda upfront, but also have a fierce metal component in there. Sounds triumphant and classy, just like Frog himself.

Edited by Liontamer
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You weren't kidding about the mixing being "tricky"; it feels rushed. IMO, the volume's too loud overall. The opening from :00-:14 sounded crowded as hell, and the orchestral elements were completely drowned out until :15. Once things moved to the main melody at :15, I still felt most of the supporting writing was either muddy or obscured; it doesn't sound horrible, but it's definitely not optimal; you almost wonder if there's any point having some of the supporting parts in there if they're not distinguishable.

 

But you can sure hear that snare, since it's too loud and upfront. The snare tone is also not the right fit for this piece.

 

:46-1:13 was somewhat less cramped than what came before. The frog SFX was a nice touch, even though it was pretty buried and easily overlooked. Nice break with the Magus theme from 2:00-2:32. The string decay at 2:28 seemed abrupt and exposed the sample, but the writing of that part was good for that section.

 

This should be more epic than the end result, but the indistinct, cluttered mixing prevents this from reaching top-tier execution. This is mixed reasonably enough for me not to NO it, but it's not by much despite the excellent arrangement because a significant portion of the detail work is washed out. Would love to hear another pass at the production before this was posted, but as is, this gets by with the arrangement carrying it.

 

YES (borderline)

EDIT (12/9): I'm still OK with this. The plastic bucket quality of the drums definitely doesn't work here and stuck out very poorly in the intro, but the issues I had with that drum tone were mitigated when the soundscape got filled out more. The arrangement still carries it for me, and I didn't have the issues others are having with timing. The production tweaks didn't make me feel stronger about the call since the drums are such a drag. It's cleaner, but it's still borderline.

Edited by Liontamer
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Wow, that intro is loud.  Gonna echo Larry on the balance issues here.  The backing parts (esp orchestra) get buried under everything else.  That's a shame too, because from what I can hear, the orchestra work sounds pretty solid here.  The lead at 1:14 sounded fakey to me with the awkward & stiff note changes and some odd sounding volume drop offs on certain notes.  

 

Very cool transition to the Magus theme intro.  Finally feeling like the mix has room to breathe here, though it soon kicks back into loud and pretty cluttered in the next section.

 

Solid arrangement ideas on display here.  Frog's theme is clearly used throughout with some intelligent changes and personal touches. 

 

I can see Larry's Yes here (and I could certainly see this one passing as is) , but I feel like, at a minimum, this one needs another go on the mixing end for my nod.

 

NO (borderline) resubmit, please

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Right off the bat the timing and tuning are sloppy.  The part writing is good.  The guitar solo shows potential, but it's a bit noodly.  The lead after the guitar solo is...I actually have no idea.  Is that a clarinet?  

 

Overall you've got some great ideas and talent, but the execution could be a lot tighter.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

 

NO

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Brandon asked me to check on this track today, and I sent him the votes so far.  He agrees he could have mixed this much better, and he would like us to refrain from voting further until he has a chance to clean it up.  I'll post his updated track when it's done.

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  • 5 months later...

Some interesting ideas in your mix. You don't waste any time and jump straight in with a thick intro. Personally, I would've liked to have heard a slightly more progressed introduction on this one, but it's not a deal breaker in its own right.

 

I would say the mixing is mostly passable. I found the combined power of the guitars and lead a bit overpowering to the other elements, which crowded portions of the mix (and even more so when the brass and lead hit), but most portions were relatively audible. The lead portion at 1:14 sounded a bit weird to me too, I couldn't quite make out the instrument playing, and it was very low in volume compared to the other elements. I would've like this lead to have been more pronounced.

 

The big one for me here that I'm not sure about is arrangement of the drums and the guitar playing. I'm personally finding it difficult to get into the off beat snare portions across the mix - they feel really out of place to me when coupled with the guitar's rhythm, almost as if parts in the song are stopping and starting at different times. They feel like they are combatting each other instead of working together. I also felt the guitar playing could have been tighter, which may have contributed to the former problem.

 

I'm not sure what amount of work would be required to deal with this, but these issues are niggling at me, and I don't feel I can pass this yet.

 

NO

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I think Larry's comment; "This should be more epic than the end result, but the indistinct, cluttered mixing prevents this from reaching top-tier execution." is exactly correct. If this were mixed and balanced a lot more this could be a great mix, but so much is lost in the sloppiness of it. That being said, the leads do manage to stay pretty clear and up front, and the arrangement is pretty fun overall. Kudos on that Magus transition as well.

 

YES (borderline)

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Brandon asked me to check on this track today

 

Brandon as in Brandon Strader? Honestly I'm pretty surprised, because this is not nearly as polished as a lot of his recent work. The snare seemed really exposed and flimsy (oh I see Larry hit that already), and the guitar was also mixed strangely. Almost like they were mixed for a punk song while the orchestra is playing... like an orchestra. I also have to agree a bit with Joel about the arrangement. At times, the rock and orchestra parts are fighting against each other, like playing different styles almost. I admire the ambition here, and I certainly couldn't pull off a song like this, but the cohesiveness needed just isn't there.

 

NO (resubmit)

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I'm surprisingly okay with this - this is far from perfect due to some issues I'll cover later, but to me this is competently written and executed with enough finesse to inch over the bar. I agree that the arrangement itself and unique combination of instruments is this mix's strongest aspect. Loved the heavy guitar tone contrasted with the orchestral brass, as well as the more acoustic interludes - this is one of the more unique styles I've seen Brandon tackle recently but on a conceptual level, it works great, and the mixing issues isn't enough to negate that in my opinion.

 

Some issues I had with it - the snare, as everyone else said, was wimpy. I also thought the transition from Magus' theme back into Frog's theme was underwhelming. There's some sloppy timing as others have pointed out. None of this is a dealbreaker in my book, though I can see the concerns from the other side of the fence. Good luck Brandon!

 

YES

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I really like the brass additions to this and think it adds a good deal of character. The different section are solid, and there is a lot to like. The acoustic sections and the buildups after them were great. Solo was pretty good too.

The guitar performance was fine but I do agree it felt sloppy in parts. 

I do think the drums sound smashed and weak though, and plodding. PM me, i'll give you One Weird Production Trick that will make other producers HATE you. A local mom found it, and it will fix up this song easy.

No, please resubmit

 

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  • OceansAndrew changed the title to 2014/09/22 - (3Y/5N) Chrono Trigger 'Masamune' *REVISED VERSION UP*
  • 1 month later...

I agree that the arrangement is excellent, and I like most of the ideas in there. It's definitely an arrangement with a strong epic feeling to it. I particularly like the brass, the strings, the tubular bells, the acoustic guitar, and the magus breakdown.

The actual execution feels like it lacks quite a bit of polish in multiple areas, though. Like the others said, the drums are definitely off. I also agree about the sloppy soloing, which I gotta say was a pretty big bother to me. Also, the wind lead at 1:16-1:45 and 3:03-3:34 felt cheap to me, and it was pretty far away in the mix, which I think contributes to making things awkward. Also, the busier parts often have the orchestral portions fighting over the leads, which also doesn't help understanding what has the focus (most noticeable at parts like 3:24).

So yeah, this has a LOT of potential, but all these problems add up too much to me. It's still a close call, but this definitely needs more work. I suggest trying to improve those solos, and carefully reworking the mixing so that the spotlights and the backing parts are clearer.

NO (borderline, resubmit)

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The mixing here isn't optimal.  The guitar lead sounds small and buried in the dead center, while this humongous brass plays in grand stereo, and if it weren't for this panning, they would compete dreadfully for frequency.  The drum kit is weak and buried, rhythm guitars sound distant.  The guitar performances are fine though, imo.  The arrangement is working fine too.  It's just the mixing.  I think Brandon can mix better than this, honestly.  Still, it squeaks over the bar for me.

YES

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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2014/09/22 - (4Y/6N) Chrono Trigger 'Masamune' *REVISED VERSION UP*
  • 2 weeks later...

Those drums sure are clicky.  That snare is really upfront and dry sounding, It doesn't fit this mix at all.  I'm not convinced by the drum performance either as it has very few flairs and feels simple and mechanical.  The orchestral parts were good, the bells were a nice detail.  I felt the busy sections lacked clarity specially when the lead guitar was involved.  The rhythm guitars are muffled and needed more presence.  Some of the guitar performances were a bit sloppy but it didn't bring the mix down.

I do tend to favor well arranged pieces and this one shines in that department, I think the orchestral rock adaptation works well for this source, there was plenty of expansion on the original theme and the remix had a good grasp on structure with sweet breakdowns and powerful climaxes.  

I REALLY would've liked to hear something done about those drums though, they almost bring the whole thing down for me.  Also I have to also express my surprise that this is a Brandon mix, as we know he can do much better.  I think this is slightly over the bar anyways so,  

YES (Borderline)

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  • Sir_NutS changed the title to 2014/09/22 - (5Y/6N) Chrono Trigger 'Masamune' *REVISED VERSION UP*
  • 1 month later...

In theory, we're supposed to judge every ReMix in a vacuum and completely ignore any knowledge about the artist, what he/she is capable of, etc.

That's a great goal, and we strive towards it, but it is sometimes difficult.

Case in point: this submission. We know Brandon is capable of great things, but something is very wrong here... even if this had been submitted under a pseudonym, with zero biases involved, I can safely say that the criticisms would have been the same. The production here is muddy, details get lost, and while the arrangement is *nice*, it's not inventive enough (nor would ANY arrangement potentially be) to turn a blind eye to the whole thing teetering on the brink of incoherence. I dig the idea of an orchestral rock arrangement of this theme, but somewhere on the road to that dream, things got compressed/mastered to hell, with none of the individual parts playing nice with one another. It's a hard genre to mix because of the twin terrors of getting the rock/metal mastering down and THEN getting the orchestral bits down and THEN making sure they complement one another, but it NEEDS to be done well. I've heard Brandon do it well, too.

I wouldn't approve this mix if it were from an unfamiliar artist, and thus I won't approve it from Brandon, either.

NO

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  • Liontamer changed the title to *NO* Chrono Trigger 'Masamune'
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