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OCR04152 - *YES* Life Force "Surgical Strike"


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Nutritious
Justin Medford
 
 
16520
 
Life Force
Thunderbolt (Stage 05)
 
Well, this one took a while... 
 
Started in 2017, put on self-hold for 3 years, then I finally fix it up (sorry for the delay guys :().  The original NES track is awesome, but unfortunately too short.  I can still remember going to a friend's house in elementary school to play & beat this game, Konami code assisted of course.
 
I originally planned a relatively straightforward orchestral DNB take on this, but the end product really fell short.  Looking back, I'd gotten way too locked into recycling the same ideas and sounds across a lot of my music.  After stepping a way for 3 years (!), I finally came back to producing and am very happy I did.  The end result got more into classic synth/cinematic territory blended with my original ideas and a lot more/better guitar sequencing.  Hope this one does the trick and also that I'll keep the music train rolling.  
 
 
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Awesome, it's great to see some fresh, Nutricious music. His style is always really awesome, with the faux-orchestra and the harder hitting drums underneath. This pulls that style off in spades, and when things are really going it's solid.

I see this is something to get him jump-started back into music again, so I definitely give it credit for that, but it's not his most polished work. The instruments don't quite sound as humanized as I've heard him make them before - strings have dynamics but no sense of human articulation, which is distracting. Everything sounds like a downstroke, which makes every note sound overemphasized. This isn't really a realistic orchestral piece so I don't tend to count it too much against this, but it'd still be nothing but an improvement if the 'real' instruments were more realistic.

The production quality is quite good in this, even if the mixing is strange from time to time; synths sometimes pop out too far in front of the mix (like at 1:20 for example). The synths are a bit vanilla, but personally I like 'nilla synths when they're blended with other elements (like guitar and strings), and the drums are still really juicy. They sound like they hit a groove and drone from time to time, but they do change up in pace and style from time to time so it's not a pervasive issue.

There is still a great little arrangement here, but there are quite a few little things that I notice could've made the experience better; it's a close call for me. I'm leaning on giving it a YES since I still find myself bouncing to that beat, but I could see this swinging the other way, too. Best of luck on the rest of the vote!

YES

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree that the orchestra is pretty clearly synthetic given the central role it plays here, but I think it's well above where our standards should be for an arrangement like this.  Likewise, I think most of the vanilla synths are perfectly appropriate, although the drums do get a little grating in places (notably 1:04-1:53 and 2:56-3:44).  As Gario said, there's room for improvement, but I don't come down as borderline on this one at all.  Very nice work overall.

YES

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The rigid string attacks opening things up were in uncanny valley territory, so that's an area of needed improvement. Same with the brass brought in later, but less of an issue.

At 1:04, I've heard Justin use these beats before, and to me they lack some punch; would also like to hear more sophisticated writing there, since they sound stapled on top of the other writing and not really integrated. I also agreed with Gario about how they droned.

All of the timing's pretty stilted and rigid on this, so while the arrangement's otherwise creative, energetic and strong, the very robotic timing on nearly everything (strings & electric guitar in particular) was too pervasive and should be addressed. Let's get more "surgical" with the timing of this to get it sounding more humanized and better realize the potential of the arrangement. :-P

NO (resubmit)

EDIT (10/13/20): I purposefully didn't listen to the old version just to come into this track with a fresh perspective and this was just so much more cohesive and well-presented than before. I still think the percussion could be produced to make it more impactful, and the faux geetar grates some, but the instrumentation quality is much stronger and the arrangement has moved into more of a thrill ride kind of territory. Quite the long hold for this one before bringing it back, but well worth the wait now. An awesome return for Justin! :-)

YES

Edited by Liontamer
updated vote from No (resubmit) to YES
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (2Y/1N) Life Force "Surgical Strike"
  • Emunator changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (HOLD - AWAITING REVISION - 2Y/1N) Life Force "Surgical Strike"
  • Nutritious changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATE VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 2Y/1N) Life Force "Surgical Strike"
  • Nutritious changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATED VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 2Y/1N) Life Force "Surgical Strike"

oh snap! i love that you fixed your music by expanding your diet of synths to be more nutritious and less empty calories! that joke was a bit of a stretch.

intro is super epic. i'm a sucker for gated synths, and i love the build and interplay between the glide synth and the tutti strings. the track continues to build for over a minute and a half before we hear the actual melody, and then we get the beat finally. the beat and bass sound real good, but the rhythm guitars are obviously sampled as is the lead. this is really showcased at 2:21ish where the rhythm guitars sound really artificial, notably in how they're gated.

the breakdown at 3:00 is nicely timed and executed. i really like the combo of faster strings and synth that's used to transition back to the chorus at 3:09 onward. the solo at 3:22 is solid, if obviously sequenced. it's a shame we can't get live guitar on this, as the energy would be face-melting. the ending is an interesting fadeout that ends on a V and does a pretty good job bringing down the energy without just ending.

the mastering throughout is real clean. i can hear each instrument without a problem and the orchestral parts cut through where they're supposed to. overall this is a fun track with a lot of energy and a nice take on a good original track. i would love to hear live guitars, but it's not enough to hold this one back.

 

 

YES

 

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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATED VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 1Y/3?) Life Force "Surgical Strike"
  • prophetik music pinned this topic

This is a fun and epic track, and well produced although it's loud/sausage-y and peaking at 0.9db.  The mixing is well balanced.  The master is very clean, but the peaking above 0 might mean compression artifacts on YouTube.  Other than that I have no complaints, it is a very well crafted, exciting and enjoyable track.

YES (not conditional, but it would be nice if the master didn't exceed 0db)

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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATED VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 2Y/3?) Life Force "Surgical Strike"

Enjoyed the intro build-up. The mix does take a little while to get going, but once the pace picks up, we're in business. I think the leads are a bit loud in this, compared to the other elements, the drums get a little lost. Not a dealbreaker but worth mentioning. The breakdown and build-up at 2:41 was a nice addition. The lead guitar that plays us out at the outro at the end is a bit stiff. Arrangement seems fine. Production seems mostly fine apart from the mixing of the leads issue I mentioned. I think we're good here.

YES

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  • Jivemaster changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATED VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 3Y/3?) Life Force "Surgical Strike"

Short loops are never easy to make much out of, but you still broke the three sections down, developed them individually, and turned the B section into a dynamic mid-song bridge.  I don't mind the slow-burn intro, as it relies on the A section's chords to add a cinematic rise, introduces the melody at 0:34, then let the C section take prominence through the beat drop at 1:36.  Since then, both segments of the source had separate developments - delaying a phrase by a whole bar (1:47), keeping rhythms while altering pitch (2:09), stopping and starting the melody at the start of each bar (2:46), and several occasions where the A section's theme rode on top of C's chords.  These techniques all work with the cinematic/DnB combo writing, allowing for sturdy sequencing (including the guitar VST) to carry the ideas forward.

The mixdown is also great - sharp and punchy, with well-balanced instruments, and with enough clarity to let the backing strings step in as well.  I could comment about the palette, but it's classic Justin - and he certainly didn't put a foot wrong there.  I am, however, with Kris regarding the loud master - maxing out at -8 dB RMS with an average of -11, which is barely more powerful than the recommended value for the Youtube upload.  I'm okay with it getting hosted as is, but it's worth taking note for future renders.

Minor flubs aside, everything checks out both on an interpretation and production level.  It feels so surreal seeing the thread await a revision when I joined the panel, and that revision didn't disappoint.  Nice work!

YES

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  • Rexy changed the title to 2017/09/02 - (UPDATED VERSION - PLEASE REVOTE 4Y/3?) Life Force "Surgical Strike"
  • 2 weeks later...

This gets an emphatic hell yes from me! I've heard this at various stages of development and, although it doesn't feel fundamentally different from your original concept, it's amazing how much all the little tweaks and additions have made this track shine. It's easily one of Justin's strongest-produced tracks, and the fusion of rock, orchestral, and synths captures everything I love about his music in a single package. 

Let's get this posted! :)

YES

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  • Liontamer changed the title to OCR04152 - *YES* Life Force "Surgical Strike"
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  • Liontamer unpinned this topic
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