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Rexy

*NO* Donkey Kong Country "Aquatic Ambiance (Oceanic Echoes Mix)"

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It takes a lot to make a novel Aquatic Ambiance remix these days, but we'll see where this goes.

It's bookended by some minor issues: The intro is super quiet, and the ending is a fade-out.  The jump in volume from the intro to the first chime at 1:03 is pretty extreme.

The rest is well-executed, but somewhat disappointing.  There are lots of AA arrangements out there done in exactly this style, and this one in particular is mostly a sound upgrade, very conservative, with most of the parts lifted directly from the source.  There are a few minor changes, and the swap from sax to vibraphone as the lead, but that's about it.

The piano also seems pretty mechanical to my ear, with only minor and consistent velocity variations and rigid timing.

It's a perfectly serviceable cover/upgrade, other than that volume disparity, but I don't think this reaches the level of interpretation we look for.

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This remix is a bit frustrating to listen to.  There are many really neat ideas here but the execution is lacking and the mix balance is off.  It's frustrating because underneath the issues lies a nice remix indeed.  The intro is not very good, the piano is not the greatest and the performance is not expressive enough, could be less mechanical.  The switch to the next section shows a sharp difference in volume, though not as bad as later on.  I'll be honest until this point I thought this mix would be super vanilla, but 0:19 brings a whole new mood to the song.  I think placing the piano melody verbatim on top of your beautiful harmonies was a mistake, and I would've preferred to hear some expansion and exploration instead.  Around the first minute comes the first huge jump in volume.  Some beautiful ambiance and pad usage in this section.

The sax sounds ok to me for the most part but it does have some weird intonations, such as sudden cuts after long swelling legato notes.  After the sax section is over we encounter the other big issue with this remix, it's very static and repetitive.  Also very long while not a lot of stuff is being introduced/explored.  It goes on and on on mostly rehashing the same ideas until it ends around 6 minutes in.

This is not a bad song, outside of the volume disparity throughout the mix, the production was pretty clean and the sound palette was pleasant and interesting.  But the issues with volume, repetition and lack of interpretation bring the track down below the bar.  

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This arrangement isn't terrible, but it's undoubtedly on the static side.  The source is dominant, but its parts were used verbatim on top of an otherwise pleasant set of bass and gated pads.  The only source modification I heard was changing the last chord in sequence from Bb minor to G minor 7.  You have a static second half that repeats the first melody variant with a different lead, so instead of repeating previous ideas, that could get used to explore and develop the motif.

I should also elaborate more on Sir Nuts's concern about the piano on top of the clavinet at 0:33.  You have the piano playing in a straight rhythm, but the clavinet has a swung one.  Usually, a listener expects consistent rhythms, so consider changing the pace of one instrument to that of the other.

The mixdown isn't too bad, though - there aren't any frequency overlaps, and you've panned your instruments appropriately, but the e-piano that appears at 1:03 is too loud for its role.  That same timestamp also has a jarring 9dB volume jump - way too unexpected for the genre as it is.  The piano has some pleasant velocities to it but can be more realistic, with one such idea being to layer two or more piano tones on top of each other for a unique timbre.  The swelling legato on the saxophone also sounds cool, but the attacks and note cuts are too constant and can benefit from manual articulation tweaks.  I do have credit where credit is due, though - the synth and pad selection is lovely and appropriate, so if you do go on to revise this track, please keep those patches are they are.

While the track is pleasant enough to listen to at night, it is, however, bogged down with a static arrangement, very minimal interpretation, the jarring volume jump, and some smaller issues regarding realism.  It's not bad, Gary - and whatever you decide to do going forward,  I hope you get to take this experience to another level.

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