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*NO* Metroid Prime 2 "In and Out of Love and Heartbreak"

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ReMixer name: Michael Hudak

Real name: Michael Hudak
OCR Forum #: 35138
Name of games arranged: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Name of arrangement: "In and Out of Love and Heartbreak"
Name of song arranged: "Sanctuary Fortress"
Source material:
 
I used the Sanctuary Fortress tune to try and convey (at least some of) the emotions of falling in, being in, and falling out of love. It's a tricky thing. The original title of this ReMix was "Night of the Argument", and maybe I've given too much away with that bit of info, but this piece is a bit of therapeutic expression. Musically, this lands somewhere between sounding like it's from the 80's and sounding like it's from whatever alternate timeline Metroid takes place in. A few little bits of other motifs from the "Prime" games in there as well, if you can spot them.
 
 

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A strange source and a strange remix.  Source seems fine though I really don't want to have to try to stopwatch this.  There's lots of dissonance and chaos, but it's intentional; I have mixed feelings about whether the intention is enough to excuse it.  Same with the lo-fi quality to some of the synths (the intro, and the lead/pad that starts at 2:44): they're unpleasant but intentionally so. Some of the leads are oddly thin, especially in comparison to the rich accompaniment.  0:55-1:54 drags a bit but it's not egregious.

So, I definitely don't like the remix but I'm not 100% sure that it's bad.  I'm having a very hard time being objective about this one.  I'll see what other judges have to say.

Update: This now has 3 NO's, and I'm certainly not going to hold it back when I'm this ambivalent.  I'm personally fine with the source usage on a subjective basis, for what it's worth.  I'm happy to let it be a NO overall and see what a resubmit looks like if we get one.

Edited by MindWanderer

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I was struggling to pick out the source material, so I got in touch with Michael, and he provided a concise breakdown.

0:54-1:05 - The blippy synths at the 1:29 section.
1:12-1:17 - A syncopated piano from Phendrana Drifts.
1:27-1:29, 1:33-1:35 - The sine wave as heard in Torvus Bog.
1:41-1:56 - The blippy synths at the 1:47 section.
1:56-2:28 - The constant sine wave throughout the source.
2:28-2:43 - The blippy synths at 1:47, with the sine wave in the background.
3:15-3:30 - The blippy synths at 1:47.
3:35-4:02 - The constant sine wave throughout the source.

The sine wave in the source didn't have a set pattern, but they did have a set rhythm, and Michael's interpretation kept that intact.  Amazingly, this ended up a second over the 50% mark, and that alone is remarkable.

I also understand where the vision is going with this one.  Whenever the sine wave is present, it's there to signal chaos in a short-term relationship.  A lot of the track outside of it is more melodic, which of course signifies the more positive aspects of love.  It's a weird direction that uses less of the source material than I was expecting, but there is a foundation here.

The production left me with even more questions.  Yes, the writing has minimalism, but the textures are still meaty, and there's a good use of layers on the instruments.  Yes, the "argument" section at 1:56 is tonally weird, and there are moments where the backing is stripped down to the bass, a melody and some simple drums.  But at the end of the day, Michael intended this track to be a work of art.

The only thing that looks off is how quiet the track is.  The mix does peak, but beyond 1:56, the volume rarely goes beyond -6dB.  You can quickly remedy it by making adjustments to a limiter if there is one in your master chain.

I could mark it as a conditional on volume right here and now, but like MindWanderer, the artist's intention has me questioning whether an art-based piece like this is cohesive enough for the OC Remix front page.  Technically there is an arrangement, and there's a working production.  But the oddities it has makes it hard for me to cement a vote right away, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to sit on it for a while.

[EDIT 02/10/2019: Having seen prophetik's vote, I am in agreement that the Phendrana Drifts part isn't considered to be overt.  I still see nothing troubling with the direction or production values otherwise.  It's almost there, but to make it ready for the OCR front page, it just needs more clear source - preferably more distinctive parts from them.  You're knocking at the door Michael, and I know you can make it.  Keep going!]

NO (resubmit)

Edited by Rexy

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i wanted to review this without caring about timestamps because i feel that there's more like 65% source here, but i think that rexy's listed timestamps are really, really loose, and when it's this close that matters. here's what i got on a more exact listen (let it be known that i went into this trying to find more time, not less). bolded numbers are changed (albeit minimally), and as a whole are exclusively melodically focused:

0:54-1:04 - The blippy synths at the 1:29 section. - 11 seconds
1:12-1:17 - A syncopated piano from Phendrana Drifts. <- this is so quiet, and so minimal, that i think we can't count it.
1:27-1:29, 1:33-1:35 - The sine wave as heard in Torvus Bog. - 6 seconds
1:41-1:55 - The blippy synths at the 1:47 section. - 15 seconds
1:56-2:28 - The constant sine wave throughout the source. - 33 seconds
2:28-2:42 - The blippy synths at 1:47, with the sine wave in the background. - 15 seconds
3:15-3:30 - The blippy synths at 1:47. - 16 seconds
3:40-4:02 - The constant sine wave throughout the source. - 23 seconds

that is, 244 seconds total (i trimmed the end a touch), and i have source in 119 (that's including start AND end seconds, not missing the last second), or 48.8%. so that's under the hard timestamp bar.

that said, there's some really weird shit going on here, and i feel the best way to approach this is how the panel approached our first non-melodic remix (doug's CT mix that was all percussive instruments), which eschewed melodic focus for a rhythmic focus. i went this direction because the remixer chose as well to eschew melodic (and, frankly, tonal) technique in favor of creating a work that reflects the original.

metroid prime 2 was a game that featured a really dark, distorted landscape in many of the areas, and this is clearly reflected throughout with how the composer used a lot of really random bleeps and blurps in the original track. in turn, the remixer reflected this throughout with their choice of instrumentation and tonal center. i agree that essentially half of the first minute is just intro, but the there's a ton more of the sine wave in this work than the composer credits themselves with. for instance, the entire time from 1:17 through maybe 1:24 feels like it's from the original from a rhythmic standpoint, and that pops up in many other places (the opening circa 0:39, 2:44, etc).

in other words, i'd argue that the consistent use of that bass instrument's rhythm qualifies it enough to count for more than the time listed, which would put it over the bar, and in turn into evaluation of arrangement quality. that is a lot easier - if we're saying this has enough content, then yeah, the arrangement's great! it's wandering and distorted and occasionally maudlin, but it's a great representation of both the original track and also the underlying theme the remixer's going for. i don't mind the instrumentation and the volume issues rexy mentioned are noticeable but not hindering the experience (i won't say 'enjoyment') of the track.

so, i guess it comes down to whether others agree with my interpretation of the bass instrument. if so, then it's got enough, and in turn has a yes from me. if it's not consistent with past judging, then it's below the timestamp threshold, and that's a no as a result. hooray, another question mark!

edit: after i talked it over with a few other judges, i think we need to go with explicit source usage vs. the rhythmic focus i theorized above. based on that, there's not enough source, and that's that =( unfortunate since this was a fun piece that really got me thinking, but them's the rules. adding a touch more clear source usage would be totally doable i think, if you feel like retouching this, but i understand if your catharsis from this work is done and you don't want to go back.

 

 

NO

Edited by prophetik music

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Not enough source usage IMO. The original sounds weird because of the portamento sine wave but it's actually a pretty straightforward source tune. This really goes off and does its own thing that sort of just sounds adjacent to the original. I hear bits of it here and there, but I think the approach is too much; too caught up in its own concept and not taking and presenting enough from the source tune.

NO

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Interesting piece, and it's weird, but it's still capably produced. You just need to listen to it several times to get acclimated to the structure and flow of it.

When it comes to source usage, Michael's breakdown was very helpful and appreciated. Always err on the side of providing us as much information as possible with source usage, rather than needing the judges to ask. My timestamps slightly were a little less generous than Michael's, but the sources were overtly invoked where he claimed they were, and I tried (as always) to give as much credit as possible.

prophetik wondered about rhythmic connections where the notes are different. The context also matters, but that has always been a valid arrangement technique, as long as it's clear where the direct A-to-B relationship from source to arrangement is.

The track was 4:05 long, so I needed to be able to identify VGM being arranged for at least 122.5 seconds for the VGM references to dominate the arrangement.

:38.5-:46.5 (first two notes referencing 1:46 of source), :53.75-1:05.5, 1:12.25-1:17.5 (quiet), 1:27.5-1:31, 1:33.5-1:35.5, 1:41.25-1:52.5, 1:57-2:22.75, 2:27.75-2:35, 2:39.75-2:41.25, 3:14.75-3:26.5, 3:34.75-4:01.5 = 114.75 seconds or 46.83% overt source usage

The piano of the first 7 seconds of the intro also seemed loosely derived from the constant sine wave part of the source, but it wasn't something I'd count myself. You could also count the 2-note rhythm and notes of the patterns from :17-:38 (with big gaps) in a similar way to what I'm counting from :38-:46 in referencing 1:46. That didn't quite get there for me, but the case could be made by someone else.

To be on the safe side, there should be more overt source usage in the opening minute somewhere. As is, this is slightly source-light to where the VGM references almost but don't quite dominate the arrangement. Otherwise, the unorthodox sound design didn't both me whatsoever. Good stuff here, Michael; please don't be discouraged, and I hope you're willing to resubmit this one with some additional tweaks. Production- and writing-wise, this may be throwing some folks off, but I greatly appreciate the approach and character here.

NO (refine/resubmit)

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