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Volcanic Glass (Sonic & Knuckles Lava Reef Act 1 + 2)

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(MP3 direct download link here)

Hey folks, been a while since I last posted. Here's something very different from the last two pieces I put up here.

It's a synth-heavy combo of Acts 1 and 2 from Sonic & Knuckles' Lava Reef Zone. I always loved the inherent juxtaposition of Lava Reef - the fiery magma of Act 1 vs. the cool, almost ice-like crystal structures of Act 2... and of course, the music for each differs appropriately.

The goal with this remix was to try and blend the smooth intrigue of Act 2 with some of the intensity of Act 1. Genre-wise it's a mix of things - early on there's some downtempo/chillout vibes, but later it gets more energetic. I suppose there's some synthwave influence too (lots of analog-style leads and pads, heh)

Here's a couple links in case you've not heard the source tunes before:

Act 1 -

Act 2 -

Hoping to submit this for review at some point, so by all means - have a listen and critique anything and everything about it!

Edit: this track has now been submitted to the Judges Panel, changing the prefix to reflect this. Thanks again for your help everyone!

Edited by Eladar
Changing prefix to "submitted"
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This is good. The use of organic sounding bells/percussion alongside synth nicely captures both vibes you set out for without keeping them too separated. You give the track enough time to warm up, while keeping it from boiling over. Heat jokes aside, the progression of dynamics is engaging and the piece has plenty to offer the listener. I sure enjoyed it, nice work!

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I adore this. It's incredibly well-balanced. There's so much going on in the song at any given moment, but it never feels overwhelming. The two scores are so different-feeling that I was sure trying to blend them would go about as well as blending actual fire and ice but you've managed to do it while staying true to the dynamics of both of them. As a big fan of the source material, I had high expectations and you blew them out of the water. Absolutely stellar job.

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Thanks so much for the comments everyone!

@Souperion Yeah, the bells + synth combo was kind of the genesis (lol) of the piece for me, and I built much of it around that. Glad you liked it and felt things came together well. I appreciate the puns too thank you for those XD
@Ordonis Happy to hear the remix went beyond your expectations! Establishing a common ground between the two source songs was one of the trickiest parts. Fortunately they do share a decent amount of musical material. One of my early breakthroughs was the idea for the "bridge" section that pops up a few times (first at 1:07 to 1:16) - this helped me move between Act 1 and Act 2 parts without disrupting the flow of everything.
@orlouge82 Google Drive link has been added to the OP, you should be able to download the MP3 of this draft from there :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

The chimes are a bit weird, but other than that, I really enjoyed this. The stereo effects are great, mixing is on point, and other than the chimes (they sound a bit too detuned, to the point of being almost off-key), your synth selection is pleasing to the ear. And like you stated in the OP, the piece gets more energetic later on. Nice combination of the two (very different) themes of Lava Reef.

Edit: because of your awesome mix, you've inspired me to make one myself. Thanks for that!

Edited by Seth Skoda
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Thanks @Seth Skoda, glad to hear it inspired you! :)

I do know what you're saying about the chimes, by which I'm pretty sure you mean the panning metallophone instrument that's there for the first 28 seconds or so (and comes back at various points later). This is a gangsa, which is used in Indonesian gamelan music - specifically I'm using a sample from the Native Instruments Balinese Gamelan library here. Gamelan instruments aren't pitched to the same scales as Western instruments, so this library comes with both "original pitch" and modified "concert pitch" versions of all the recorded instruments.

I'm actually using the concert pitch gangsa here, but it does still have a slightly "detuned" sound to it. I personally enjoy this subtle detuned quality as a point of interest, but I can see how you might perceive it as a sort of unwanted dissonance. I tried messing with the Tuning knob on the instrument in Kontakt's synth rack view, but anything beyond 0.7 semitones up or down was too much (i.e. it just started clashing with the rest of the instruments), and anything less didn't seem to make a perceptible difference to my ear in the full mix.

Returning to this song a few weeks later, I'm feeling pretty good about it as it stands, although I'd be interested in an Evaluator's thoughts on the gangsa situation (and the piece in general), so I'm going to mark it Ready For Review. (Looks like my source videos for the original track also got taken down, so I'll fix those too lol)

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  • 2 months later...

Staff isn't doing much to this board, sadly. But I've got some time. I'm technically not staff anymore, so this isn't technically an ocr evaluation.

Around 1:40 you've got an interesting mixing situation. The bass is nice and clean, though it could probably stand to have a little more lows. The mids and highs are a bleeding mess. Use EQ to carve some space in the accompaniment so they don't compete with the leads. It's difficult to say which frequencies are best to carve in, but probably somewhere in thethe 1kHz-4kHz area. That should make the mix overall more clear.

I quite like the instrumentation, except the bass. It's a bit dry, a bit raw, it doesn't quite blend in. Maybe eq shaping, tweaking the filter or its envelope, something like that would help. Maybe giving it a touch more lows (carefully) and cutting some low mids  Or using a different patch altogether. Maybe something silly like a filtered reverb on it would work, difficult to tell. Or it might sort itself out once the mixing in the mids and highs is done. In any case it's not a big deal, though still worth looking into.

The tuning difference isn't a big deal. It's gonna bother some people, be interesting to others, and others still aren't gonna notice it at all.

There are always things you can do to improve it, but I don't think it's cost-effective to make a lot of changes at this point. I think it's best to just try to correct the mixing, adjust levels slightly after that in case the leads are needlessly loud, maybe do something about the bass, and then sub it. It's pretty good already. And I don't think it's cost-effective to spend too much time on the same track (I know from experience).

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I somewhat agree with the above poast, listening to it again. About the mids and highs point.

The strategy I've used with the last few pieces I've made is not to EQ, but use both a low-pass and high-pass filter on midrange and treble instruments. It's an effective way to completely cut unwanted frequencies.

Otherwise, not bad at all.

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Hey, thank you both for the extra thoughts! This is really helpful.

@Rozovian - I'll see what I can do about EQ'ing those accompaniments (or maybe low-pass/high-pass filters as Seth suggests) to help out the mids/highs situation and avoid competition with the leads. I think you mean the marimba-like chromatic percussion here is what needs some EQ carving, correct? Though you might also be referring to the heavy synth chords that come in at 1:44 and persist until about 1:54, those take up a lot of sonic space too admittedly.

Then I'll give the bass another review, and find out what the panel thinks. Very much agree that too much nitpicking on one track ain't worth it.

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