Liontamer

OCR04101 - *YES* Portal 2 "Thermal Encouragement"

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Geez, Rebecca - you picked a problematic source to remix!  It's got three parts (hence "Triple Laser") - a bass at 4/4, a mellow synth that loops every 21 beats, and a brighter synth that starts over after 20.  That's not a lot to work with, all things considered - and consider me shocked to hear not a lot of it used at all.  I hope you can read sheet music because that's the best way for me to explain.

TripleLaserPhsae_BrightSynth_Used.thumb.png.6fea70e9f4bc39abc0bbfe8f92e5d7d0.png

Circled in red is the motif that gets used for most of the track.  The mellow synth does appear later via your echoed strings, but the bass isn't touched upon at all.  Here is the source breakdown I picked out:

0:04-0:08, 0:14-0:18, 0:22-0:25 - All with strings referencing the two-tone motif.
0:33-0:46 - Interpretation of the two-note motif via the strings, then moved to the flutes.
0:56-1:10 - Echoing strings referencing the mellow synth loop.
1:10-1:14 - Flute doing the 2-note motif.
1:28-1:34 - Echoed strings referencing the mellow synth loop.
1:57-2:04 - Bassoon referencing the two-tone motif, going as far as pushing on to the pitch next in sequence.

That's 55 seconds of identifiable source, bringing it at 39%.  I might get proven wrong later, but if I can only sense that much coverage for an abstract source, it sticks out as a significant problem.  You have an untouched bass - by far the most recognizable part of the source - that is worth considering fitting in.  And referencing other more conventional Portal BGM can also assist with more definite identification.

The production, however, is considerably harder to give feedback for one good reason.  Except for the heavy bass swell at 1:40, the track doesn't go any higher than -12dB.  Even if you boost the volume, it'll bring the instruments' articulation up to the front and allow you to adjust any that don't sound unnatural.  Thankfully the tremolo strings sound well layered, the pitch-bending on the solo violins feels ominous, and the harp-glockenspiel combo has some pleasant-sounding realism.  Decay on the woodwinds still needs work, but the modulation otherwise sounds serviceable.

As it stands, it's a creepy tech demo that has robbed me of a good night's sleep.  But there's still more to work on if intended to get onto the front page.  Most importantly, it needs to not only be a louder mix but also have more identifiable source material.  Improved articulation on the woodwinds is desirable, as is another pass through the mixing once the levels are adjusted.  At the very least, it's more unusual than other submissions of yours sent into the inbox and I hope to see you do more exploration in that direction.

NO

[EDIT 17/09/2019: I stand corrected regarding source use - thanks MindWanderer for adding more to the timestamps.  I can respect a more transformative arrangement, but I still feel the mechanical wind instruments stuck out like a sore thumb and I'm still not sold on seeing it on the front page.  My vote still stands.]

Edited by Rexy

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I picked out a bit more source than Rexy did, although I usually hear three tones in the bright synth motif and not two.  It's played by the harp between 0:08 and 0:14, by the vibraphone at 0:29-0:33 and 0:46-0:56, by the french horn in 1:14-1:18, then the mellow synth played at increased speed by the glockenspiel from 1:23-1:40 and the vibraphone from 1:40-2:04, and finally the bright motif played far too quietly by the bassoon through the end.  I also suspect the strings in 1:18-1:28 are supposed to be referencing either the mellow synth or the bass; it's hard to tell, but even without that, to me it sounds like some part of the source is used nearly everywhere, although often it's notably transformed.

It's quiet for sure, especially the ending, but that's an easy fix.  You can straight up increase gain by about 5.4dB, although I also recommend compressing at least the bass on that one swell to let you squeeze a little more volume out of it than that.

This is a very clever take on the original source, retaining and even augmenting its creepy character while completely transforming the medium.  Works for me.

YES/CONDITIONAL (on volume increase)

Update 03/03/2020: New version sounds good to me.

YES

Edited by MindWanderer

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so, essentially, the melody here is based around a whole-tone scale (1 5 4 2) - thanks to Rexy for writing it out (and using the proper note names for it!). this has quite a bit of dressing on it for what's essentially a two-note motif, but it demonstrates consistent and solid adaptation in line with typical motivic development in orchestral works. i particularly appreciated playing with pitch, which is another example of using the source to inform the remix - time-shifting (and temporal anomalies :<) often produces strange pitch artifacts, and it's fun to hear that used here.

i agree that the mastering is nonexistent - it really needs a limiter (to control that bass tremolo) and volume increase as the other judges have said. once that's done, this is easy front page material.

 

 

YES, conditional on mastering

6/10 edit: this is better. not perfect but over the bar. YES

Edited by prophetik music

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What a strange source for sure. I definitely think you turned up the creepy feeling for this, and the track definitely reminds me of my old music college days with experimental tracks. I'm having little issue hearing the source as it goes through with the two-three note motif. 

I'm on the fence here though. I'm agreed with the others that this needs to be boosted in volume, but I'm not sure if the stiff woodwinds are a little too much. I think in the end the stiffness works for the overall creepy, robotic feel of the track, though I do think it is close to the edge of needing some more humanization.

Volume for sure,  though!

YES (conditional on volume)

Edit: YES after edits!

Edited by DragonAvenger

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What a creepy source, and you've captured it perfectly in this adaptation, I love it.  The master is quiet which tends to be an issue with all of your submissions.  Wow this is a short arrangement, I would have loved one more crescendo section leading into the outro.  It would be great if the volume could be brought up before posting, but it isn't enough of a problem for me to hold it back.

YES

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With the minimal original material to pull inspiration from, I appreciate the melodies you’ve drawn out and built upon to make the mix work. Without going into the numbers, I felt the original was discernible enough within this, but I appreciate Rexy’s breakdown. You’ve captured the mood of the original well, and built upon it. Things are a bit on the quiet side as usual. It was a good move to not have this go for too long, you hit what you needed to and closed things off. I’m with the others that I think this would benefit from a boost in volume, otherwise I think things here are fine.

YES (conditional on volume)

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A lot has been said about this, so I'll just quickly cosign this as a formality. Really innovative arranging from Rebecca, there's a few instruments that sit in the uncanny valley of realism but this time, it felt entirely in service of the creepy mood. I still find this to be on the quieter side of acceptable, but I can accept that an unconventional mixing style befits an unconventional arrangement such as this.

Nice work!

YES

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