Chimpazilla

OCR03730 - *YES* Mega Man X & X4 "Rolling"

11 posts in this topic

ReMixer & real name: Eino Keskitalo
e-mail: 
 
ReMixer: Tuberz McGee
e-mail: 
 
ReMixer: Jorito
e-mail: 

Names of games arranged: Mega Man X, Mega Man X4
Name of Arrangement: Rolling
Names of individual songs arranged: Sigma Fortress 1 (MMX), Frost Walrus Stage 1 & Frost Walrus Stage 2 (MMX4)
 
Sources:
MMX4: Frost Walrus 1st stage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6eecLDUdUs
MMX: Sigma Stage 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Q592iDoxE
MMX4: Frost Walrus 2nd stage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdATueX551s
 
Jorito's notes:
 
"When Darkesword announced the Sigma Fortress Remix Gauntlet, me and Eino got pretty enthusiastic about it after our good team experience in a previous compo. SFRG however required a team of 3 people, and we were short one musketeer. Fortunately Eino managed to bribe/convince Tuberz McGee to join our li’l group, we came up with the name Maverick Astley, and essentially that meant all the 9 tracks we submitted had a reference to Rick Astley’s classic “Never gonna give you up”.

“Rolling" is no exception in that respect, just listen closely to the lyrics. Rolling was Eino’s contribution to round 1, and since we wanted to kick off the compo big time, all 3 of us contributed. Eino did the basic arrangement, played guitar and bass, we discovered that Callum is actually a pretty good singer so we got him to do vocals as well as his usual guitar business, and I ended up with most of the keys and synth stuff, as well as adding sfx and production duties. Overall Eino did a great job with the concept and glueing the 2 source tracks together in an interesting arrangement and Callum’s vox and guitar solos really helped the track come alive. From a production standpoint this was a very interesting track, since half of it lives in Renoise and another half in Logic Pro and on their own these halves sound… well half, and mixing these parts together was an interesting technical challenge. Worth it, tho.

I love working with these guys, very inspirational! We were a great team during the compo and if it’s up to me you haven’t heard the last of Maverick Astley yet. A++, recommend, would team up again."
 
Eino's notes:
 
"Well, I can only concur what Jorrith's saying about the teamwork here and throughout the compo. I was especially crazy to join the gauntlet in probably the busiest time of my life so far, and thankfully I was able to lean on my teammates to make it out alive..!
 
I'm not sure I can really remember much of the process. How did I find the time to record all those guitars and basses anyway? Plus placeholder vocals, which Callum thankfully replaced. I mean, I got a nice skeleton of a full track done by myself, which I'd been happy with as a compo submission, but Jorito really put the flesh on the bones and Callum breathed life into the monster here.
 
Post-compo we fixed a few things - there was some harmonic conflict (at least I felt so) in the writing and sometimes the mix was too busy. I re-recorded a bit to unhairify the transition from the middle prog part to the final part, plus spent a ridiculous amount time fixing the bass timing - guess it was done in a hurry or something? It was all about ironing out the little warts and kinks that happen when three people work on a somewhat complex harmony/arrangement in the space of one week. I think this is nice and polished by now and I find I can simply enjoy listening to it. Thanks to timaeus222 for directing the SFRG2015 album and mastering this track as well!"
 
Callum's notes:

"Eino and Jorito are some of the best peeps I've had the liberty of making music with. Even when it's just vocals and guitars I feel so fulfilled in their arrangements. This song is no exception. I had great fun recording close inversions of 11th chords. If there's one thing I've learned from working with these two... it's that whatever we are up against, we will never desert the fight. <3"

Source breakdown:

0:00-0:02 swoosh!
0:02-0:15 bass and that little arp from FW stage 1 0:10-0:24; downwards melody from FW1 0:24-0:35
0:15-0:29 chords from 0:10-0:24 are added
0:29-0:42 (verse) bass from FW with vocal melody taking after Sigma Stage 1 melody from 0:25-0:50, adjusted to chord changes of FW.
0:42-0:56 bass from Sigma Stage 1 (simplified and adjusted to FW chord changes)
0:56-1:10 (chorus) 0:49-1:01 from Sigma Stage 1, with the descending melody from FW.
1:10-1:24 continues into the Sigma Stage 1 intro/post-chorus part (1:02-1:13)
1:24-2:19 verse and chorus repeats
2:20-3:00 proggy take on 0:27-1:08 of FW stage 2.
3:00-3:14 Sigma Stage 1 intro 0:00-0:11
3:14-> end uses the same material as the verse.
 

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I like this but it feels a bit busy a lot of the time.  The vocoding is great but I feel like it is overused, and in some spots it adds so much harmony that the melody gets lost for me.  The gating feels overused as well, during the section where the lead is gated.  Lots to like in the mix though.  Not going to vote yet.

edit 2/17/17:  So, that's not vocoding?  Well it does sound cool, but it makes 100% of the lyrics sound like backing elements and not a proper lead element.  I sure would prefer one or two sections where the vocals are more centered and focused, with a proper lead vocal and with the harmony pushed back a little in the mix.   I agree with MindWanderer about the repetitiveness of the lyrics and gating, and I agree with Deia about the section at 2:19 sounding too busy, too many lead elements going at the same time there, a call and response section would work better there.  I think this is close, but it falls just short for me.

NO (resubmit)

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Very clever blending of the sources in this one. Loving the approach overall - using Frost Walrus as the backing of Sigma was something I couldn't envision, but it works pretty damn well. The vocals are clean, well performed and full of Rick Ashley, which means all is right in the world. Considering how different the two sources are from one another, directly blending them like this is quite a feat, so great work on that.

Chimp points to the overcrowding that occurs in this, from time to time, and I agree that it causes some issues. It gets very cluttered, for example at 2:26, with multiple instruments fighting for the front of the mix. It's loud, the instruments clash and overall it doesn't work as well as the cleaner portions of the arrangement.

I find it funny that Chimp mentions vocoding, when in fact it's actually multiple singers in such harmony that it sounds like a vocoded blend - it's brilliant. It almost has a barbershop quality to it, which tempts me to ask if there's a recording of just the singing without the backing instruments. The gating is an interesting effect, which is a little distracting when it pops up, but that's more personal preference than anything. There seems to be a recording glitch that causes the vocals to skip a little at 1:35, so be careful about those little glitches. The gating hides it well enough, but just giving a heads up, there. Otherwise, great vocals on this one, all of you.

The harmonies are pretty rich, almost jazz-like in their presence, but they don't come off to me as too dissonant. I like my harmonies rich and interesting, so nice work on those harmonic combinations. It won't be for everyone's taste, but there's nothing technically wrong with overly harmonic melody lines - it's just a different approach to the music.

Not much else to say on this one. I agree that the mix gets crowded from time to time, but otherwise it's a pretty brilliant arrangement. Great work!

YES

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Ah yeah I remember this one, it was one of the best tracks from that round, I still remember the lyrics, even.  Anyways the boys did a pretty good job here, the sources are blended seamlessly, and the additions and modifications that complement the source re-arrangement are on point.  The mix does feels busy at times, and the lead at 2:12 feels like it could've been mixed in better.  I would've just removed the line the guitar is doing in the back because it's fighting for space so hard.  Loved the use of the organ in this track.

I also think the gating effect on the vocals is overused.  Sometimes it feels like it's there just because it can, and not to add any rhythmic variation, which is what it probably should be doing.  It helps making the repeated lyrics feel different but I would remove the majority of it and just leave it where it makes sense for spicing up the track.  It's honestly something that almost makes me ask for a resub (though the other issues I've mentioned do weight in on that) because it's easily fixable and it does take a lot out of my enjoyment of the track, as it pulls too much attention to it, but I think the rest of the track is just strong enough to overshadow this, plus it may not bother others as much.  

YES (Borderline)
 

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Ditto on the overcrowding, but it isn't problematic for very long.  Gario's right that those complex harmonies aren't to everyone's taste, because they aren't to mine, but they're technically correct.

I can see what Kris meant by vocoding.  0:57-1:10, for instance, sounds mechanical because of the reverb combined with the harmonization, but I don't think it's technically vocoding.  I think I detect a hint of autotuning, but with so much going on, I'm not sure, and there's nothing wrong with that anyway.  However, there is a strange quaver at the beginning of that section, and each time it repeats, which doesn't sound intentional.

I too would have preferred some variation in the writing to keep things fresh instead of the gating effect.  It gets a little repetitive: "How could I give up" is repeated 4 times, and "Whatever we are up against" 3 times, with only small lyrical changes and the gating, and the gating by itself isn't the most effective tool to mitigate this--it just adds gaps and doesn't change the sounds themselves.  They're also kind of randomly applied.  All the interesting writing is clumped up at the end, which is unfortunate.

I think this is really close, but I'm just barely going to come down on the other side of this.  I'd like to see the gating replaced by something more interesting and less distracting that makes the repetition more bearable, and that crowding reduced.

NO (borderline, resubmit)

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Definitely agree about the overcrowding. I think it would be something that could use a re-look if this does get sent back to you. Some of it might be the balance overall, as the entire track feels super 'in your face' throughout the entire track. I think bringing down the harmonies a little in volume, along with some of the backing parts might help mitigate this.

Personally I'm not feeling the 2:19 section. The combination of leads playing off each other just feels messy. Something more of a call and response, or again a dramatic change in lead volumes might help here.

I think this is super close, but it's just falling short for me. The combination of the themes is pretty great for the most part, and it's super creative overall. Hope to hear this one again!

NO (resubmit)

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Great contrast of the textures mixed with guitars. Vocals and their respective harmonies are strong, with great performances all round. Particularly liked the noticeable wider panning to signify the chorus. Gating on the vocals in the second half is overused somewhat - almost too much, dulling the uniqueness of its use. I thought the second play through of the verse portion could've done with some tweaks to make it more varied compared to the first iteration. In the mid section peaking at 2:27 you run into some clarity problems due to too many elements fighting for attention, I feel some layers could've been strategically stripped back to make way for the important parts. This is really the main section though that has these issues - mixing for the rest of the track is mostly ok. Drums are clean and don't wobble from over compression, which would've been challenging on a mix with this many layers. Outro has a nice blend of new ideas to see the track off (although it gets a little too busy for its own good).

Thinking through this vote and having a few listens of the track, it's clear there's a cluster of smaller issues here, but none of them truly feel deal breaking in contrast to the strength of the performances and arrangement. I will say this is borderline due to some sections simply being too busy to the point where parts are almost lost, and to be honest this almost tipped me over. Almost.

YES (borderline)

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Really digging the creative arrangement here.  Slick ideas through.

Really liking how crisp the beat sounds when it kicks in.

:59, the vocals are really fighting for room with the backing elements.  Feels like the compressors are working a bit of overtime to tame things down.  Same issue at 1:52.  Listen to the beat when it plays without vocals on top and when the vocals and snare play at the same time?  The clarity/crispiness of the beats from the intro are gone because the vocal levels are triggering the compressors too hard (IMO).

Also agreed the gating felt a bit excessive on the second verse, but that's more personal taste.

2:20 the synth and guitar lead are really fighting for sonic room and, honestly, they sound like they're playing two different, non-compliant melody lines here.  It's probably the section with the most glaring issues for me.

I don't want to give the wrong impression - I really love this track.  I really like what ideas you've brought here, I just think it could shine with better mixing clarity (and perhaps cleaning up the guitar/lead synth writing a bit).

NO (borderline) resubmit, please

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Just skimming through the votes, it seemed like people were cool with the arrangement, but not the production. OK, let's see what's up.

Wanted to first say that the guitar & bass work were awesome throughout. The pitched up vocals from :15-:29 don't stand out too much, but seemed too high and slightly chipmunky. Not a big deal as a subtle element here.

Callum's chorused vocals at :29 were such a cool way to arrange the MMX Sigma Stage 1 theme, and not at all what I expected. I couldn't fully understand them due to the way they were produced, but that happens in music all the time, and the tone of everything sounded great. If Callum hasn't heard of him, he should check out Joey Barnes, who does some great original music and whose vocals Callum's reminded me of in some respects with Barnes' track "The Wire (Act 1)."

The vocal gating at 1:24 was an interesting technique, but the way the vocals' volume seemed to drop/duck when the gating happened was odd. I disagreed on the vocals or their treatment feeling too repetitive; they weren't in there that long, and I thought they well creatively handled. As far as the words repeating, it's called a hook; it's fine. :-P

The transition at 2:19 didn't work, IMO. The lead synth seemed so bright compared to the more melancholy vocals before it; same with the whistling at 2:44; maybe it's more of a personal taste thing, but to me the contrast in tones really didn't click there.

Anyway, 3:00 moved onto a section strictly focused on MMX, and the organ and guitar seemed to work better with the whistling-style part. The vocals from 3:27-3:40 got smothered by the guitar work; both of those parts sounded good, but weren't mixed properly to occupy their own space.

If anything, the jarring contrast with the instrumentation & tone of the 2:19 section was the biggest issue for me, but it's also something you get more used to on repeated listens. The other production issues brought up like clutter and clarity were valid and should be addressed, and whether this passed as is or not, it should be improved. That said, the arrangement was very smart and creative, and the mixing didn't bother me enough where I felt parts weren't discernible. There's no way I'd reject this when the arrangement is so strong and the production, while not ideal, was solid enough. I'd love a version with another pass at the mixing, but I'm a strong YES if we only had this version.

EDIT (3/28): Forgot to mention, but once I paid more attention, read the sub letter, and recognized the "Never Gonna Give You Up" influence on the lyrics, I was dying. :-) Y'all are some clever bastards.

Edited by Liontamer
"And we're going to plaaaaaaay"

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Strong track with great performances and an interesting take on the sources. Loved this when it hit the SFRG. Chorus vocals are mixed a bit weird but no dealbreakers for me. Love it.

YES

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Just chiming in quickly; I think the production bar could stand to be lowered a bit, especially on the more subjective mixing/mastering front for relatively complex/ambitious tracks like this.

I get that there are certain common types of issues that are easy to cite - a smidge too much compression, crowding, etc. - but I feel like a mix of this particular arrangement/production balance should always make it through; pretty surprised this was as close a call as it was.

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