Julien Mulard

Mask Temple - Link's Awakening - Progressive Electro/Metal Cover

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Salutation everyone!

Please, listen to the last version: V6, now with REAL GUITARS bits in it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/144o313TO7cJql9JJuTRYo57A90Qqlkku/view?usp=sharing

Every time I start a new track, I think about the story it will tell.
Concerning this one, it's kind of a crossover between The Matrix and the original story of the game: the hacker Link tries to hack into the JANUS system to find answers.
The thing is, nothing goes according to plan...

Regarding the arrangement, I was inspired by different sources, such as Master Boot Record, The Algorithm or to some extend Igorrr (all fantastic bands, but rather extreme), even though I shifted to something different along the way, and added some trance elements.

Overall, I think it's a very fun track, but I lack confidence in my mixing/mastering skills, so I'd appreciate if you could focus more on this aspect.
God, I hope you'll like it as much as I do :D
Really, I'm open to all sorts of feedback.

And of course, thank you for reading all this!

Merry Christmas, happy new year, and have a fun listening

tl;dr: fun electro/metal remix, I'm looking for feedback, and hope to be posted :)

Old versions:

version 1
version 2
version 3
version 4
version 5
version 5 more bass

Source: Gameboy version / Switch version

Post submission edit: I hid stuff in the specter of the track. I tried to hint at it (read the first letters of each paragraph of this post up to the tl;dr) but I guess it was too much work for anyone to notice ^^ So here is a link to a pdf detailling all the easter eggs I hid in the track : https://drive.google.com/open?id=1B4o86pP--KYy7mTOpKp7JxvTTCMjK1vY

Also, thank you to everyone who listened the track and commented, be it on the discord or the forums, and most particularly to Timaeus who played a major role in the production of this remix. See you all soon, be it for another remix of mine, or just to rework this in case of rejection!

Edited by JulienMulard
Submitted

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Wow. I love the progression of this thing. I've heard a piece by Master Boot Record, and can hear the influence. And it's pretty grand. The introductory segment is slick, with the increasing metallic elements. Reminds me of Portal 2. The heavy, synth hit thing (I don't know what it's called) that comes in at 2:45- 2:50) seems a bit odd right next to the more rockin' instruments that come in after it. It's a good transition part, the instrument just sounds a bit weird to me. Still, this is an impressive arrangement. Nice work!

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Thanks for your review Souperion!

Yeah, I went a bit in the experimental territory with this one. What you call "heavy synth hit thing" is just a tonal dance kick with distortion, played at different pitch to play the bassline. It's more of a breakcore thing, and  I was clearly inspired by the remarkable work of Igorrr for this part (this song has a similar kind of breakdown starting at 1:26, and that song has nothing to do with what we're talking about, but is my favorite from this artist, so give a listen maybe?).

Fun fact, I didn't use any kind of guitar for this track, neither real nor sampled, only synths with guitar amps.

Anyway, I am glad you liked it!

I'll wait a bit to see if anyone else have any feedback, and I'll see if I can do a better job at blending the instruments for this section.

Have a great day!

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Okay, so I know I've been tagging this thread as "Ready for Review", and that it means I'm not supposed to touch it until a mod actually review it, but I looked into this kick stuff, and started tweaking things here and there. I changed some stuff in the incriminated section, and added some panning automation to make some "effects" more interesting. I also solved a clicking issue at the beginning of the track.

Feels a bit better for me, and I promise I won't be touching it before an actual mod review.  :D

So... New version here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UMadeKYY3Tlojui8pBITyKLRZE1EJwuy/view?usp=sharing

I'll update the top post as well. Happy listening!

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Happy new year! Gonna take a listen.

My first impression is that the arrangement is really solid. There isn't really much I would change in terms of the notes written or the structure. The mixing is definitely where I would take another look. Some mixing references I would be comparing this to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAjIbPJ_dt0 (overall)

https://soundcloud.com/isworks/shreddage-2-some-other-song-by (the kick doesn't have to be as strong as here though)

What comes to mind:

  • Minor nitpick, maybe the bit reduction went a tad far around 1:36. Not a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it, slightly bothers me because in general it generates harsh upper frequencies.
     
  • I'm guessing you're actually using Shreddage, but (like at 1:48) the guitar seems to be very thin, lacking frequencies below around 300 Hz (to the point where it sounds like FL Slayer?). Also, it appears to be sequenced with fairly unchanging, high velocities so that you're mainly getting the hammer-ons/pull-offs instead of palm mutes. I get that it's playing fast, but it's sounding more like a distorted electronic arpeggio than an actual electric guitar. At the very least, I would not high pass the guitar nearly that much (if you are), and I would also try using MIDI CC automation to turn on Tapping Mode so that it's hopefully more smooth playing that fast.
     
  • The kick drum is clicky enough, but I'm missing that low end thump (around 40~80 Hz). Try layering on another kick sample that has those frequencies. (I'd recommend using the Layer tool for that.)

    If you're worried about the kick clashing with the bass, that's where sidechaining comes in. I think you know how to do that, but in this case just a little bit is fine, just so that the kick and bass can play at the same time but the kick still can be fully heard. (Maybe you're already doing it, if it's as subtle as I'm suggesting.)
     
  • At 2:57 - 4:14, you have a very busy, cluttered soundscape, definitely overcompressed. I think compared to version 1, you did improve this aspect, but the issue still remains. As far as the instruments go, the bass, guitar, and kick drum interaction with the Limiter is the main culprit. The default Fruity Limiter, if that's what you're using, is hard to work with if you want to write music where you could end up with a waveform sausage. I think you have two major options.

    1. If you want to keep using it, I'd recommend lowering the Release a bit so that the compression doesn't stay too long, and maybe raising the Ceiling a bit so that you aren't running into overcompression as much. In this case, consider checking the sidechaining of the kick with the bass to adjust for this change in the Limiter settings.

    2. Or... I don't know how much this will make you go back to check the mixing, but I've been using TLs-Pocket Limiter for years, and it's a free soft-knee limiter which has not given me any overcompression issues since I first used it back in 2012-2013. You would have to be careful about clipping, but it will let you basically hear what you give it at face value.

I think that about covers it. The guitar is missing low end frequencies, and has fairly unchanging, high velocities, making it sound more electronic than electric (if that makes sense), and would benefit from Tapping Mode over just playing the notes without prior UI tweaks, just so it has smoother note transitions. The kick is also missing low end thump. And then at 2:57 - 4:14 the soundscape is super cluttered because of the kick and bass competing. The arrangement itself sounds good to me, and I'm behind that.

End of Mod Review

Edited by timaeus222

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Hey Timaeus! Thanks for your review :D

Just to clarify some things, mostly regarding my intentions:

  • there is no guitar, just happy little detuned and filtered sawtooths. I guess what makes it sounds like Sherddage is the amp I used (Revelver HPSE, which came free with Shreddage). I was looking for this "synth sound with distortion" soundscape, but I guess it's in the uncanny valley right now, being both too close to a "true" guitar sound but composed as a synth part (Example from Master Boot Record of what kind of sound I was aiming to). Given this new piece of information, do you think I should push more toward a synthy sound, as it is stylistically what I was aiming for? Or simply use Shreddage? I guess I'll try both and see what it does :)
  • Regarding over compression in the last part, I have sidechaining going on almost all instruments (linked to the kick). I'll try to tune that down and see if that opens up the soundscape a bit. I DO have a limiter, but it's just there to avoid a few instances of clipping. I'll doublecheck it too, though, to be sure.
  • When you talk about the kick missing low end, you're talking about the double bass drums? Or the dance kick? I think it's the former, but I'd just like to be sure.

Thank you for the quick feedback, and have a great day! I'll get to it in the next few days, so stay tuned!

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Yeah, I think you should just use Shreddage then. I was guessing Shreddage because you own it. :-)  The synth sounds like it wants to be a guitar, and is playing the role of one. Might as well give that a go!

Oh, you have sidechaining on almost all instruments? In a metal-sounding ReMix, it should just be between the kick and the bass, and really shouldn't be between anything else because the more you do it, the more pumping it creates (some sounding unintentional). Sidechaining is really just to help the kick come through because it conflicts with the bass's frequencies. Even in more typical EDM, you'd mainly hear subtle sidechaining between kick and bass so the kick can come through, and otherwise, kick and pads for noticeable pumping effects.

The kick missing low end is the one that sounds more acoustic, so yeah, the one you're sequencing like a drum kit kick.

Edited by timaeus222

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Hello everyone!

New version: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uTvsK8UO-3vbJd4vqhmLCTtZLE0G_7EH/view?usp=sharing


I changed a few things regarding mixing and mastering: Restored a good amount of sweet low BASS on the kick during the metal parts, and solved a good amount of limiting that was in fact happening at the end of the track (your ears are something else @timaeus222)

I have not touch my sound design because I love the way it sounds, so no Shreddage here, still some uncanny synth sounds. I'd rather try not to change it

And by the way, I hid text and stuff in the spectrogram of the track :) There's also a few morse code messages (one is very well hidden) You don't have to check it out, but know it's here if you happen to have some time and an audio analysis software (I tried to hint at it in my first post, as I was really in the mood for cryptic stuff at the time, but I guess it's rather uncommon to read the first letters of a post to see if something's hidden there, so now, you know :D ).

Still hoping to be posted, so don't hold back!

Thank you for your time, and have a great day!

Edited by JulienMulard
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Ok, so I was listening back to my last version (which I actually finished a few weeks back, but couldn't find the energy and time to upload/share it), and it was a mess regarding drum mixing. I had some time on my hands, so I started working on it again, and, as we (don't really) say from where I come from, voilàààà:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OChMgMoSi1z77eSvuYdGeEKFzvOvH69_/view?usp=sharing

Something clicked and I was finally able to achieve some clear and impactful drums for once. I also feel I improved the mixing/mastering a lot! What do you guys think?

The downside is I'm a bit burned out from working on this track, but the good news is you will have a fair amout of time to review this before I randomly post yet another version ^^

Thank you for your time, and have a great day!

Edited by JulienMulard
Link was not working

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First off, I apologize for spamming so much, more so with the "Ready for Review" tag . I got some great feedback from Discord, and updated the track once more

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JS9nm8IgKPcpSDXIopi7rQ6xdRr8MZP0/view?usp=sharing

I finally removed the sidechaining on the metal kick, and tweaked some things a bit (less bit reduction during the intro for example).

I've never been this close, I feel it! What do you guys think?

 

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It does sound a lot better! The drums have more presence, and there's not nearly as much overcompression as there was before. Even v3 still had a bit of that leftover. I will however say that the guitars don't sound as heavy, as they've lost some low end presence (40-60 Hz most importantly) compared to v3 (most noticeable at 2:55), while they do actually have a bit more presence above 10000 Hz after lifting some of that overcompression. What happened to the bass there?

V3:

image.png.46f2b3659c01d58e26e84e9a0e6d07e2.png

V5:

image.png.a366308f3ff718435702e954decfb044.png

Edited by timaeus222

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Hi Timaeus!

Thank you for reviewing my track once more!

Between V3 and V5, I did some EQing on the guitars, cutting almost all the lows and mid-low, to leave more space for the bass (I remembered reading somewhere that metal guitars where in fact 80% bass). It was lame, so I progressively put some low end back, but not enough I guess? I also cut a lot of reverb/delay (still on the guitar), as I felt it was creating more clutter than anything, but maybe it was creating some low-end resonance or something?

Oh, and I put the "rythm guitars" up an ocatve during the last theme section, so, less bass from the guitar there too.

Anyway, I just spent some time to get that low end back, and for a moment I thought I lost it somewhere. But with some drastic EQ, I was able to salvage something. It's not the same, but it might do the trick.

I boosted that low band a bit all along the track, for both bass and guitar (by reflex, I high-passed the bass at 35Hz, but not anymore), and to get that extra oomph during the buildup at 1:40/1:45 I also added some automation that increase the low end of the guitar just for that. It's not the best, as you can hear the "magic" happening, but it's the best compromise I could come up with.

So here it is, V5, but with MORE BASS: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JW0IOVgFO_YBl2uEx95UX2CwNznFufdO/view?usp=sharing

Please let me know what do you think of it, and have a great day!

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There we go, I think you got it. Especially noticeable at 1:45, - 1:47, the guitar sounds less nasal and does have more presence, but as far as I can tell, you didn't accidentally put back the old bass clutter. You'd have to A/B it to notice the difference I think. Otherwise, you may want to ask someone like @Gario perhaps to take a look as well. I'm not sure though, he's last been here a month ago. Nonetheless, the main challenge I'd be concerned about is just that the "guitar" doesn't actually sound like a guitar, so as-is, it kinda has to function as a fake guitar while still suiting the overall soundscape.

As far as comparing to posted mixes, this should be a good one to think about, since it's a pretty similar style. As it turns out, this guy did the mixing himself, I never actually mixed it for him interestingly enough.

Another similar ReMix to compare to:

The main things to focus on are:

  • Are my drums present enough compared to the guitar/bass?
  • Is there significant pumping on the overall mix when the kick and bass are slamming the limiter (2:55 - 4:12)?
  • Is it fatiguing to listen to this?
Edited by timaeus222

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Hello everyone!

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm currently working on a version with guitars. What I'm trying to do right now is to "merge" both guitar and synth, because the change in timbre would be too drastic for my ears right now.

The thing is, it almost makes me go back to square one regarding mixing/mastering, and for now, I'm not happy with the result at all (hence no preview). Plus my computer can no longer play the track seemlesly, an boucing to audio is really complex to manage due to all the tempo automation going on.

If I can somehow make it work, that's great, but I kinda want to move on to other projects and submit something for once, so if I struggle too much or if it takes too much time, I may submit the last version (V5 more bass). The quarantine is opening up a bit here in France, and I'll have to go back to work soon enough, which will leave me with way less time.

Thank you Timaeus for all you've done, and to everyone else from the forums and the Discord. I'll keep you informed!

Have a great day!

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I think I found a way to add guitars in it!!!!

New version: https://drive.google.com/file/d/144o313TO7cJql9JJuTRYo57A90Qqlkku/view?usp=sharing

I mostly copied all my effects from the guitar synths, put it in another track with shreddage on it, and tweak stuffs until it felt right. Then I mixed them both together. I removed a good chunk of high end from the "synthars" to let space for the guitars articulations (pick attacks and stuff), but cut the guitar low end to let the synth fill that space, because it was easier than making the low sounds good from scratch again.

I'm pretty sure I broke some stuff regarding the overall mix, but I still think this version can be a good starting point for a conversation regarding all the new little stuff I'll have to change in the future, now that's there's a new instrument here ^^

Just so you know, my track is at a point where I need to export (at least 5 min each time) to get a clear picture of what I changed, because ther's so much stuff going on my CPU can't keep up at all.... I will probably try to bounce everything, but it's such an involved processed, I didn't have the will to do it today (plus I'm still making adjustments to the midi sometimes, and I won't be able to that easily).

So please, let me know what you think of it :D

Have a great day!

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There's just something about the guitar samples in this that filled out the atmosphere in a way that the synth guitars by themselves did not. I think that is an even greater improvement than before! The guitar soundscape is more full/meaty and less nasal, and overall the EQ is tamer in the upper treble as well. I honestly think this is ready to submit to see how it will go, as far as polishing it based on the intended vision.

Just don't forget to cut out the many seconds of silence at the end. :-P

Edited by timaeus222

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This is an absolutely mad remix, going through at least 3 distinct styles and yet still seemingly naturally progressing between each one. I'm not listening on headphones, but didn't notice any glaring problems, so I'll trust timaeus' ears to say you're probably in a good position to submit as it is. Well done for getting it this far!

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