Gario

*NO* Donkey Kong Country "Deep Blue"

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Hey guys. Long time fan. You rejected my first submission like nine years ago. It was called Monkey Nostalgia, a rework of the Ending Credits Concerto. I've got some fresh trance for you this time on one of the classics. I hope you like it. Let me know what to tweak if it's not to your liking! I'd love to get my work on here and get some promotion for my other projects! Feel free to shout out my YouTube channel if you want to support me!

 

Edited by Emunator

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Dynamically, this was relatively flat, because the textures were so thin, with the beats feeling particularly empty. Big re-build at 2:07 into... more of the same stuff at 2:34 at the same intensity as before at 1:14? What the hell? Yeah, disappointing. There was subtle melodic doubling going on, and a tiny bit more to the textures, but it wasn't a meaningful difference. Beautiful wind-down for the last few seconds at 3:28 though. Flesh out the textures and/or beats more so the track doesn't feel empty overall, and develop or vary the arrangement further for the last minute-and-a-half, and this would be a lot more solid in terms of the overall level of development. Solid base here though.

NO (resubmit)

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I actually thought the soundscape was fine.  The beats are fine for this sort of ambient mix, and I didn't think the textures were thin at all.  2:34 wasn't exactly the same as 1:14; the arpeggio added there isn't massively different, but it does serve to differentiate the two sections and add a little bit more energy.  I agree with Larry that more could be done with it, though.

My one main crit is that the reverb on the piano is cranked up way, way too high.  Especially in the ending, it causes painful dissonance and resonance all over the place.  There was excessive resonance on the piano elsewhere in the piece as well, which is less bothersome when it isn't so exposed, but it does cause some conflicting notes.  I thought I heard some other conflicts in there, but I'll leave that to judges stronger than I in music theory.

Sorry that this is a particularly unhelpful pair of reviews to get as the first two!  Hopefully subsequent judges will weigh in more on one side or the other. But for my sake, cut down on the reverb and I think this does what it needs to do.  I think more development in the second half would be very nice to have, but I don't think it's required.

YES/CONDITIONAL (on reducing reverb)

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wow, this is a tough one! there's some really fun stuff in here, and some stuff that definitely isn't where it needs to be.

i'll focus on the first statement of the melody first. i really liked the intro's arrangement and lead in. separately, i really liked the bass when it came in at 0:47, and the build to 1:14 was great. i thought that the choice of piano was a great one for the melody, since the nature of the instrument allows the heavy verb to play with the tone over time and make some real beautiful washes of color. the drums in this section are downplayed but serve to provide a framework to prevent it from getting too nebulous. at 1:41, you change character a bit to start transitioning to the breakdown, and that change is solid if simple and uninspiring initially but picks up nicely around 2:08 with more transitioning synths.

my main critique here is that a lot of the instruments don't sound like they're in the same place as the others. there's several with heavy verb, which beautifully demonstrates the underwater concept, but you're contrasting them with some fairly sharp synths that don't have any body to them. an example is 0:20, which is fine starting out, but as the notes get longer, you feel that there's no room sound on them at all, and they're just very harsh and standing out. the bass, which i initially liked at 0:47, shows itself as more harsh as the melody comes in, and that also serves to contrast against the looser, more washy background in a negative way. it's a subtle thing but it really serves to drag me out of the vibe you're setting up.

picking back up at 2:08 where i left off, the bass synth and snare are both so different from the light, ethereal background that they stand out again. this is a pity because the rest of the breakdown is great! from there, though, i really like the feel at 2:35 when the melody comes back in. i think the bass is still too harsh initially, but as the texture fills out it starts to fit more. i really like the arpeggiated synth on top, though, and that fits into the feel really well - a great example of fitting the synth into the feel more, like i asked for above. and the sidechaining is delicious. really helps settle things back into the pocket. in this last restatement of the melody, i did feel that the piano began to get lost in the texture, even with the synth strings layering it.

i love the rhythmic effects on the keys at the end - is that a tight ping-pong or just a fast stutter effect? - but the hard filter on it is a hard pass by me, as it emphasizes the resonance that MW called out a lot, and feels (again) harsh after such a chilled-out recap.

i think ultimately, however, that this is good enough to pass. the things i am viewing as missteps are things like the lack of verb and odd choices for synths in a few places, but they're minor and absolutely won't bother everyone. i actually don't think the verb is too much - it's certainly a lot, but i like the application in terms of reinforcing the theme. i think this is a really nice adaptation of a common theme, and it does a good job evoking the feel of the original in another medium.

 

 

YES

 

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I honestly don't mind the reverb on the lead.  The track aimed for a chill and more minimalist direction, and a wet melody felt ideal for filling in space where other instruments are absent.  The parts are mixed cleanly with no overlap, and they all have their place across the stereo field.

The arrangement feels more borderline with two run-throughs of the theme, a subtle subtractive change-up with the arpeggio in the second one and a peculiar decision to swap backing chords for bars 5-8 and 9-12 in the main melody.  It took me a while to get used to it, but it stayed in key and differed from the source material's character.

I do have two nitpicks regarding the production.  Firstly, there's a peculiar mixture of wet and dry synths that drive the direction forward.  The piano has some clean reverb throughout, plus a concentrated delay in the ending.  They not only let the piano absorb more of the sonic space but also add more of a sense of intrigue to the setup.  However, I'm not too sure why some of the backing parts felt dry as a bone - particularly your arpeggios.  A touch of room verb would've let them fit in the soundscape more, but I do appreciate the light echoed delay and respect the choice as an artist's decision.

Secondly, I sensed an emphasis on treble and higher frequencies.  The main contributor is the constant sweep, which zooms up and down on the frequency spectrum at erratic times.  It has a surprising amount of power and occasionally gets heard over any other instrument that isn't the melody, bass, or drums.  This critique isn't a dealbreaker, either.  But I advise you for future submissions to keep the volume on higher-frequency sounds low for health and safety.

With everything weighing up, the track barely passed the bar for me.  The arrangement doesn't feel too exciting, and the production has an emphasis on a timbre lesser explored. Still, it's clean and serves as an example of simplicity applied well.  I hope that after the decision gets done, you can learn something from this process for future submissions too.

YES (borderline)

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Definitely a chill take on an already chill theme. First thing I noticed was that the soundcape overall is on the thinner side. There's not much in the way of instrumentation, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I do think Larry's right that the drums overall are a big factor that is not holding up here. The beats are generally pretty simplistic, and the sounds are very thin overall. I think they could use an over haul to get some more body.

There's the mention by the others about reverb versus lack thereof, and it's another good aspect to look at. I think your best bet might be trying to meet somewhere in the middle; bring up the dry instruments first and if the sound gets too wet try bringing the levels down until you get that balance.

While I think this needs another look,I do think this is pretty close. Hope to hear it again.

NO (resubmit)

Edited by DragonAvenger

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A lot has been said on this one so I'm here to keep things short.

I'm fine with the soundscape, it's supposed to be chill and minimalist so I'm not bothered by the lack of layers or complexity.  I do have an issue with how static this arrangement feels.  I know you've tried to introduce a break in the middle to change the dynamics but the issue is that even tho the bass changes here, not much else does.  The same pads keep droning away and honestly the modulated, high-passed noise one really started to get on my nerves after this point.

I was really digging this at the start but it got pretty stale quickly.  That bass groove is awesome, but I think you need to shake things up more.  Give us a break from the sweeping noise pad, bring in a different melody or progression.  Honestly this is pretty close, it actually reminds me a lot of tracks we used to publish around 2005-2010, but I think this needs another pass.

NO (resubmit)

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Nice atmospheric sounds here. Soundscape is a little bit thin to begin with but fills out once the bass kicks in around the one minute mark. The track plays things fairly cautious, with not much in the way of variation from the original here. The bass is very similar throughout, which was very noticeable in a minimal mix such as this. When we hit the end, the song ends quite abruptly without a proper outro. There is a good foundation here, but this piece feels more like a demo than a completed track. I’d like you to build on this one further, and add some more you into the mix.

NO

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I'm not sure this qualifies as trance.  I like the concept and I have no problem with the heavy reverb on the piano.  I do hear the resonance in the outro but I find it more cool than problematic.  My big problem with the track is the static nature of the arrangement.  As Larry pointed out, after the build at 2:07 there is nothing new added and we are back into the same slow groove as in the first half, with the same spacey background synth keeping the soundscape feeling identical.  The track would burst to life with a double-time section or some proper trance with an arpeggiated bassline beginning at 2:34.  As it stands, even with additional elements added in the second half, it just feels enough on the repetitive side for me to request a resub. 

NO (resubmit please, borderline)

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I'm really enjoying the spacey sound design here. The balance of airy, reverb-drenched pads and leads compared to the deep, constant presence of the kick and bass actually sat very nicely with me. I had high hopes for this track based on the first minute or so. However, it simply doesn't feel like it goes anywhere. There was so much tension introduced around the 2 minute mark but the buildup that culminated at 2:34 was a total tease. There's a huge amount of potential to bust into a double-time beat or add more rhythmic variations to really bring this arrangement home. 

I also have to second Rexy's feedback on the filter sweep that occupies the high frequencies - that needs to be toned down with volume or EQ adjustments. I also felt like the snare roll starting at 2:15 was comparatively lacking in energy and fell flat for me, independent of my thoughts on the arrangement itself. Some additional mid-frequency risers/percussion fills would help that transition fit more naturally. 

I want to hear more of this - the bones of this are great but I think you can push yourself further to take this from good to great without changing the core of what you've already written. 

NO (resubmit)

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