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OCR03871 - *YES* Hyper Light Drifter "The Crystal Guillotine"

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Hi! My name is Peter Bobinski, and I'd like to submit a track to OverClocked ReMix!
 
Link to track: 

Contact Info

ReMixer name: Wyrgan
Real name: Peter Bobinski
Email: 
Website: https://wyrgan.bandcamp.com
 
Submission info
 
Name of game: Hyper Light Drifter
Name of arrangement: The Crystal Guillotine
Name of songs arranged: The Midnight Wood, Stasis Awakening, The Last General
Additional info: Composed by Disasterpeace, released on PC/Mac, PS4
Original soundtrack: http://music.disasterpeace.com/album/hyper-light-drifter
 
Comments: After releasing a few small projects as a post-metal outfit, Hyper Light Drifter came around. I was enthralled by its immersive, textural, and beautiful soundtrack. When I heard how the music in the west area of the game (specifically Stasis Awakening) was layered, I immediately got to work on a medley. The source material lent itself well to techniques heard in modern post-rock, like the ostinato lines and volume swelling in Midnight Wood as a buildup; but in heavier moments like The Last General where the percussion is minimal, I drew on some metal influences to really amplify its intensity. The piece overall highlights how mysterious, strange, and utterly dark the world of Hyper Light Drifter can be.

Thanks, everyone!

 

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I'm sorry, I can't really get behind this.  It starts off quite minimalist and repetitive, and stays that way for a long time.  It slowly adds in a few other textures, which very gradually get more complex, but those notes are harsh, exposed, clashing, lo-fi, and generally unpleasant.  Then, when it gets loud, it's seriously, ear-splittingly loud, and muddy besides.

There are a lot of interesting ideas, and I respect the artsy, avant-garde approach.  But between the production issues and the harsh arrangement decisions, I don't think the result is enjoyable.

NO

Edit 9/7: To reply to Larry's comments: At no point is it too loud in an absolute sense, but up through 3:17 it's extremely quiet.  I could barely hear it at my normal listening volume, so yeah, I did have my volume turned up (and had to very quickly turn it down to avoid ear damage).  And loud or not, I think 3:43-5:40 and 7:21-end are too muddy.  Structurally, I agree, it's fine.  Perhaps I came down too hard on those exposed, dissonant chords, though I'm not convinced this is purely a subjective issue.  But the low-fi sounds, muddiness, and volume extremity keep this solidly a NO in my book.

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With a chill intro like that, I wonder how this dipped into NO territory in MW's opinion. Let's check it out.

Source usage-wise, no issues picking out enough to get it well over 50%, so I scrapped my timestamps; it checks out just fine on that level.

Everything seemed strong until the first section where I thought things got crowded. 3:43's section was really crowded with the "Midnight Wood" backing part getting pretty smothered - for example, notice how the bass barely registers; that only lasted until about 4:05.

4:07 moved onto "Stasis Awakening" while still referencing "Midnight Wood" underneath. Yeah, the overall sound definitely isn't awful, but when it's clear that the interplay between the two themes is important like this, you'd want the mixing to be clearer so that the different lines both cut through, and that's definitely not happening here. The whole thing has a rather distant and muddy sound to it -- seemingly not a lot of high-end -- and while the lead guitars wail and have great energy, they're taking up all of the space during the fuller sections and drown out the rest of the writing, which is probably sharing too much of the same frequency range; a musician judge can properly speak to that, particularly for this section.

Nice dropoff at 5:43 focusing on just the "Stasis Awakening" melody before referencing to "The Last General" at 6:14 and then moving back to "Stasis Awakening" at 6:37.

The final intense section at 7:38 is definitely mixed in a way where it's just mud and machine gun drumming, and it's just not clear enough. It's actually a bit better/more distinct once the type of machine gun drums changed for the 8:05-8:18 part of the crescendo. The final section of "The Last General" from 8:31 until the end was wild, but let 'im go, what's the problem? :-D

On a production perspective, I think the mixing should be improved before we roll with it. That said, the arrangement is tremendous and doesn't need to be touched; I don't know what MindWanderer is smoking, as there's nothing wrong structurally with the track. I didn't find any of additive parts of the gradual textural build until 2:28 to be abrasive or unpleasant in any way, so I'm not sure if his volume was just too high. It seemed like his comments on the unpleasantness would have most applied to 7:38-on rather than the beginning as they seem to indicate.

I'm a conditional YES for now. If Peter can take another pass at the production to get this sounding clearer, mainly for the densest sections, I think it's an easy call otherwise. I feel bad not being in this one's corner quite yet, because I don't want the production aspect of our bar to be too high, but that side of it really does need addressing, IMO, before we could post it. But I want this posted in some form, this definitely deserves a place. Nice work so far, Peter.

EDIT (10/3): On second thought, I'm listening again, and while I'm not changed on wanting the production to be cleared up/improved for the two fuller sections I mentioned, I'm not going to hold this back if we had no revisions. The arrangements too strong and the production -- while not optimal -- isn't fundamentally broken, so I can live with it as is. I wouldn't hold it against anyone voting NO or conditional along those lines, but I think we need to be reasonably permissive and not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Updating vote to a full YES.

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Talk about a slow burner - damn, I really love how this one takes it's time with those sparse elements. I can see how that might not appeal to everyone, but as far as I'm concerned bring on the slow-builds, baby. The dissonance used throughout is just tasty icing on the cake, but then again I do love some well used harsh tones; too much consonance gets boring, for my ears.

When everything comes together I can hear the issues of the track getting too muddy, which only gets hindered by how much it contrasts with the prior, more sparse build-up. In combination with how wet that guitar reverb is, it does make the heavier moments difficult to follow. That being said, I appreciate the high contrast from sparse/quiet to full/loud; it's a great way to wake anyone up, and it makes the intense moments all that more intense (even if it also works against your favor in emphasizing the muddiness).

Overall, I really, really love this one; the arrangement is intense and subtle all at once, and aside from the muddiness concerns it's an easy pass, from me. Great work, and I hope to hear more from you!

YES

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Well this is definitely the slowest buildup I've ever had to evaluate so far.  It hits pretty hard at around 4:00, which is almost a ridiculous amount of buildup and I think more impatient listeners probably won't wait that long.  The climax is definitely dirty too and would benefit from a second production pass IMO.  Through my second listen I got some heavy Pink Maggit vibes from this one, and that's a very good thing.

Overall I'll say this will put some people off but it deserves to be on the front page.  You had a concept and stuck with it even if it meant breaking expectations.  Great arrangement and performances, originality and personality with the only downside being the production not standing up on an equal level as the arrangement and concept.

YES

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1 minute ago, Sir_NutS said:

Well this is definitely the slowest buildup I've ever had to evaluate so far.

The thing is, the structure is the same as "The Midnight Wood". :-)

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Mixing could certainly be improved, soundscape cleared and everything made more distinct.  It sounds unnecessarily flat and mushy in that regard.  But the arrangement and instrumentation remind me of an epic storytelling Genesis track from their very early days.  Well done.

YES

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Just noting that I sent Peter the judges comments a few weeks ago so he could potentially address the mixing; he agreed with the feedback on the lack of clarity and was gracious enough to give this another pass. Now it sounds better than ever, all without sacrificing any of the strength and energy of the performances. Thanks a lot to Peter for the improved version!

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