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*NO* Chrono Trigger "The Journey to the Darkest Depths"

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Submission Information:

  • Name of game: Chrono Trigger
  • Name of arrangement :   The Journey to the Darkest Depths
  • Name of individual song(s): Ocean Palace ( or Undersea palace)
  • All the information about this song is included in the site 

My own comments:
Last October I was looking for a song with some horror appeal to create a remix for Halloween.
When I was listening to my favorite songs I was intrigued about the scariness and tenseness of the harmonies and melodies of Undersea Palace. Something clicked in my mind and my intuition told me to work with this song.
After listening several times, I began to imagine some 80’s synthesizers creating an atmosphere similar to horror movies from that decade. It was a blurred vision of the sound, but at that moment I got an idea: make a darker synthwave remix inspired by Carpenter Brut, Scandroid and Dance with the Dead.
After that I started with the following steps: 1 - I wrote the basic kick and snare pattern of the style; 2 - I create a basic bass line to be the guideline. I was skeptical about the compound time signature in the bass but when I wrote the basic lines and hit the play button I immediately felt  that I was on the right (evil) track. From that moment on, the arrangement flowed as if the dark energies of Halloween were guiding me.
Committed to the synthwave genre and inspired by John Carpenter’s work, I crafted some timbers (using synthesizers) and experimented a lot with reverbs and delays to mimic a horror film feel. I also used an organ sound to bring the horror movie imaginary that was culturally constructed. 
And to complete the arrangement I added some heavy guitar with power chords to make the song heavier and dense. With this, the solo was just a way to add another narrative within/through it and to create a moment to build the ending of the song
I used the pitch and tempo automation to simulate the LP (Long Play/Vinyl) changing of speed because you know listening to LPs playing backwards is when you can hear some dark messages from hell. With that, I could start my narrative proposal to the song. The initial move of the LP is the beginning of the journey to the dark depths and the second is the end of the narrative. The ending idea, I confess, is inspired by War Pigs (Black Sabbath).

Ps. This is my first submission so let me know if I wrote too much. 

Schneider Souza
Edited by Rexy
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is pretty great! To my ears, it registers a little more as metal than darkwave to me but I suppose there's a lot of crossover regardless! :) The guitars sound thick and well-produced, both in the lead and rhythm parts, and more often than not, they fit well with the synthetic parts too. There's several instances of pitch bending throughout the arrangement that are very well-executed. For the most part, I love what I'm hearing here.

This is pretty close in my book, but there's a few parts of this that feel questionable to me and push it into more borderline territory. First off, I have to say that the main synth lead that finally enters at 1:03 was a disappointment to me. It does not adequately cut through the mix, and lacks the expressiveness I was hoping for. Your first minute of the track was a great buildup to that moment when the Undersea Palace melody, but that synth patch and the way it was mixed did not feel as tight. From there, it's smoother sailing - the organ break at 1:21 was much cleaner and added some excellent textural contrast, and the lead guitar that comes in later is obviously much more expressive and also sounds more up-front in the mix.

My second main qualm is the rather bland writing on the kick and snare, which follow a very standard 4-on-the-floor rhyhtm that just sounds lethargic. There's a few fills throughout the track, but I would love to hear those happen more than every 8-16 bars when you're in the middle of a transition to spice things up. I know the lockstep beat is a hallmark of the synthwave genre, but I believe you could write a more interesting, dynamic drum groove without compromising the feel you were going for.

I'm pretty borderline on this, because I did enjoy just about everything you laid out, but I think this could be a much stronger first submission with a few simple fixes! 

NO (borderline/resubmit!)

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  • Emunator changed the title to 2020/04/05 - (1N) Chrono Trigger "The Journey to the Darkest Depths"

Nice fake intro. Guitars have a good tone to them, though, but too much low end. This is evident with little in the way of separation from your bass. The synth at 1:05 is quite basic compared to the synth soundscape that follows. The thumping kick and snare work well enough but could do a bit more. The bass synth at 2:00. The solo is done well and has a good tone and nice level of brightness to it compared to the other parts. The strings near the end of the track were nice addition. Arrangement progresses ok, with section changes and once off instruments adding interest. You’re very close here, but ultimately production is too muffled. I suspect shaving some hz off your rhythm guitars low end with a HPF would solve a bunch of these problems, make things sound brighter and bring clarity to the mix. You could also do with brightening up some of your other parts, but the guitar refinement may be enough.


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That arrangement is excellent, no doubt about it.  The adaptation to a 12/8 time signature over the original's 6/8 completely changed the intended accented beats, which I love a lot as a rhythm buff.  The metal-synthwave combo allowed for plenty of additional textures relevant to the genres, and you also added room for a guitar solo between the one run-through of the theme and the return to the source riff in the lead-up to the ending.  The intro's slow-down effect is tremendous and built anticipation for the one run-through, but I'm not so sure about the end.  I know a particular Black Sabbath song inspired you - but for perfect mimicry, did you consider gradually boosting the tempo in addition to the pitch?  Nevertheless, I appreciate your artistic vision a lot.

I also concur with the drums being stale.  To your credit, though, you had varied writing on the hi-hat, and the flourishes there kept up the palette's high-end tones.  But to hear the kick and snare stay four-on-the-floor outside of fills feels sluggish, and the tracks I heard from Dance of the Dead spiced up those aspects more frequently.  See if you can find one or two sets of 8-16 bar sections and add some off-beat uses of the kick and snare.

The production is okay, and the instruments are cohesively balanced, but it can do with some further tweaks.  Firstly, I'm afraid I have to disagree with Joel - I feel the rhythm guitars' tones are clear enough to carry the track through.  It fits well with the rest of the instrumentation, but once other elements get put in like the synth pads and leads, there's a competition for dominance in that same frequency space.  I'm more in favor of seeing you alter the EQ of those synths rather than the guitar, letting them push through elsewhere, and the rhythm chugs continue their intended role.

Secondly, Wes pointed out the synth lead having minimal expression - a sharp attack, but that's it.  Turning it from a polysynth to mono could allow for glides when notes overlap, using the mod wheel for expression can also shape up the tone, and automating different parameters from your VST can also bring in some ear-catching results.  I understand that you made the timbres yourself, and some of these ideas may go against your vision, but they're suggestions that ought to get checked out if you hadn't thought of already doing so.

This writeup is a long wall of text, and I am sorry for articulating so much all at once.  But to recap - it's a great arrangement with some production flaws holding it back at this moment in time.  It'll be nice to hear another version with more varied kick-and-snare writing, a more involving tone on your lead synth, and another pass on the mastering that makes your rhythm guitars and synths more identifiable.  I see potential with you, Schneider - keep going, and I hope to hear from you in the inbox again soon.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Rexy changed the title to *NO* Chrono Trigger "The Journey to the Darkest Depths"
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