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*NO* NieR "Rain in Winter" *PRIORITY*


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Version 2 update notes: <**ADDENDUM: New 808 Bass VSTi, Violin VSTi and their associated written parts courtesy of Zack (once again saving my ass, LOL). TYVM for the feedback. Hope the quick turnaround and adjustments made help. ♥>


Zack Parrish = *Live Acoustic Guitar, *Fretless Bass VSTi, *Glass Harp / Armonica VSTi, *Cello VSTi *Children's Choir VSTi & *Pipe Organ VSTi


Festive greetings, J's!

Originally done for The Coop & Dyne's *17th* "An OverClocked Christmas" unofficial album, this is my chill take on NieR's Snow in Summer, with quite a few very appreciated, last minute collab additions courtesy of Zack. Although this will be my third year contributing to the album, (the previous years done with tracks from Snowboard Kids, Secret of Mana, and Mega Man X3--respectively), I have been wanting to remix this song since the first time I participated back in 2021. It had taken years to finally conceptualize it in full, (and giving up on a couple of not-so-great mash-up ideas for it,) but I am happy it has finally come to fruition in 2023, where now I can feel confident in creating and mixing its transformative content and executing the plan to do it with.

And, honestly, I am glad I finally put my mind to the fire and kindled the courage to open up the source MIDI and take a look, otherwise I would have never known just how thoroughly complex and harmonically-driven the source was.

With source usage, it is throughout the whole song, start to finish, with no repeats. I said to myself..."why break and recreate something that is already beautiful?" Instead, I elected to *add* to it, rather than *subtract*, starting by changing the instrumentation entirely to fit a whole different genre bend. This arrangement is akin to the relaxing vibes in my remixes for "A Wish" (Secret of Mana) and "Big Snowman" (Snowboard Kids), yet it is not as somber as "The Frozen City" (MMX3). I am not a huge Christmas-y person, however, I love many things that are "Christmas-spirited / adjacent", as well as a few fairly traditional ones that make an exception (e.g. "Carol of the Bells"). I tried to encapsulate those aspects of Christmas songs I do really enjoy in this mix, such as: lots of strings, pretty bells & chimes, choirs, plenty of percussive elements, pipe organs, ritzy piano, jazzy bass, etc--but, employ them with a bit of a twist; a nice undertone of Lo-Fi / Hip-Hop, indicative of the snappy percussion and plucky bass, as well as the low flute / whistle-y, whiny / minimoog saw synth that has an East-West Coast/90s flair (i.e. that "oooo-weee-ooo" you hear in a lot of Oldskool Rap tracks, such as "Big Poppa" by Notorious B.I.G.)

There...wasn't really much to my creative approach this time around, as my focus was mainly considering what I could do to showcase a different spin and feeling from its original incarnation without "breaking the mold". An...iteration that had equal parts the feelings of hope and happiness, and solemnity and loneliness that could be invoked during the (generally) joyous holiday season, against the original's more depressive emotion, that filters up and crescendo into the feeling of almost...oppression--religious fervor turned into militaristic battle music midway through the song. I never got to play NieR (although I own the original and Automata), so this is me taking the raw emotion I felt from the source alone, without context or ties to the game, and changing it into something very..."me"...I suppose. I just know the first time I listened to the source, the choir pulled me in and the drumbeat lulled me to stay till the end, and I wanted to simply mimic that ebb and flow in a "me" manner. This one is probably one of my more "conservative" remixes, but I'm a firm believer in not all songs being created equal nor should get the same treatment, and I did not feel this one needed to be bombastic or as over-the-top with the sheer insanity some of my other pieces of work came to be. It's subtle, it's Xmas-inspired, and my hope is that this one can make it in for the holidays. I know I had only submitted one other Christmas-related track, and sadly MMX3 / Blizzard Buffalo was rejected and did not make the cut. I will return to it shortly, however I hope people enjoy this one, and this one has a chance. :D

Have a Merry Christmas and thank you for the time and consideration to give this track due judgement. I pray for the best. :)

Games & Sources:

NieR Gestalt & RepliCant Original Soundtrack; Track 1 - 夏ノ雪 Snow in Summer; Composer(s): Studio Monaca & Keiichi Okabe et. al.; Release Date: 21 April 2010; Publisher / Label: Sony Music Distribution; Producer: SQUARE ENIX

Edited by Liontamer
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This starts off with some beautiful wintery bell textures before you chop it up into something decidedly groovier! I was thrown off at first by the sharp cutoff on the bell sounds but once the beat comes in, it works really well in context. There's a lot going on here within the 5 minute runtime, but none of it feels superfluous or overstuffed at any given point. The mixing is some of the clearest I've heard from you. It helps that the source samples you're working with are also very high quality, but this feels hi-fi in all the right places, and the lo-fi textures are used deliberately for creative effect and never come across as a shortcoming in the mixing. There's a few issues that I'll go into, but this hits far more marks than it misses, and the marks that it hits are right on target! You've created a very beautiful, unique soundscape that is brimming with creativity. I've come to expect nothing less from the artists involved!

My main beef with this track is the lack of beef in the 808/bassline throughout - I totally get what you were going for, but it feels like it's playing too high on the octave to really function as a bassline and fill the role it's intended. I also appreciate the creative idea of the call-and-response panning starting at 2:11, but the sample is mixed loudly and it ends up feeling more disorienting.

I also noticed that the cello in the intro felt strangely distant due to the heavy reverb, and didn't blend super well with the rest of the soundscape, in addition to being panned quite far off to one side. Not a dealbreaker but worth noting. The acoustic guitar also doesn't quite feel like it lives in the same space as the other instruments.

Easy vote for me at the end of the day, despite my reservations about a few elements not blending into the soundscape quite as cleanly as I'd like. Nice work!

EDIT: 12/17 - still good for me!


Edited by Emunator
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (1Y) NieR "Rain in Winter"
  • Emunator pinned this topic

Always a fan of instrumentation that reminds me of "Star Light Zone" from Sonic the Hedgehog. Digging the sound design during the intro.

At 1:06, things were feeling splashy and disjointed. The bassline seemed to be doing its own thing, and the notes for it aren't right. IMO, the bowed strings should have been more prominent/upfront until the textural change at 1:49.

Good stuff at 1:49 though; love the vox line handling the source melody there, and I'm appreciating the uniqueness of this treatment. Still not a fan of the bass at 2:10; feels off-key and aimless, and the texture in this segment was noticeably emptier. Another textural change for the 2:32 section; I felt like this was missing something more to pad it and that the vox wasn't doing a good job of it. OK, the vox filled out more at 2:53; that was the level of fullness I was expecting, and some contrast with the prior section was pulled off.

3:14 shifts to an organ playing the source melody that was filling things out well. The wind instrument writing felt like it was random, and seemed like the placement would make more sense on support rather than in the front; maybe it's the bassline's presense making me feel the wind writing wasn't working. 3:57 was like 1:06 where lots of writing was going on, but felt directionless, so to me it was just twiddling thumbs until 4:40. Seems like the string writing and big bells could be more of the focus with the twinkly bell synth being more of an accenting part.

IMO, the sound design and production are cool, and I generally like the transformation of the source theme, but the composition wanders off too much, with the final section tipping me on the other side. This needs the bassline loop's composition corrected and 3:57-4:40 given a more overt and melodious direction. Great potential here, VQ; if this didn't make it as is, no reason to be discouraged, as it's well in the right direction!

NO (resubmit)
EDIT (12/18):
The bassline from 1:07-2:31 has been pulled back and had its notes adjusted; it still sounds wrong, though less clashing, so there's noticeable mitigation of how off it originally sounded. Adding the string part from 3:57-4:18 helped give the final minute some direction. IMO, the overall package still more splashy and aimless than it should have been. More overt melodic focus would make this a more enjoyable listen.

Edited by Liontamer
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (1Y/1N) NieR "Rain in Winter"

I like the decision to take the source in a Christmassy direction, and it's easy to hear where the inspiration comes from. Your remix begins where the source ends, with those detuned bells, but beyond that, this downbeat remix is all its own. It's conservative in that the source is always there, but your track is constantly evolving and new ideas always being presented so it never feels repetitive.

It begins with some sfx of winding up a music box, and then we get some sad-sounding bells with string backing. As the strings die down, some more detuned bells join the mix, and this part sounds superb. The bass that comes in doesn't sound quite right, but I can't quite put my finger on why. There's definitely a dodgy note or two at 0:51. I like the filtered vox 'Da da da da daa dum' before the drop, and the textures added by the percussion and bell arps create a really interesting soundscape. The new bass synth is good, but seems to be mixed a bit quiet. I'm not sure the melody on the piano is the right choice here, perhaps an extra layer with a little more sustain to carry it may have been a better option.

Cool break at 1:50 keeping things fresh, and then when the bass hits back at 2:12 that's more like it. Not a fan of the slight panning on the bass, but it's subtle enough to not be too distracting. I do find myself wondering why the bass in the other sections of the track isn't up to the level that's it's mixed in this part, though. Not enough room in the soundscape? That's a mixing problem, and you shouldn't need to turn down the bass in the other sections to make other elements stand out - their frequencies shouldn't be interfering with each other anyway if your mixing is good enough. Regardless, I don't think it's enough to sink the track.

The addition of guitar in the next section is another great way to break up the track, and I like how it works with the backing instrumentation. Nice work from Zack there! Some cheeky jingle bells in there as well to keep that Christmas theme alive!

Finally, we get another beautiful downbeat section full of texture and suspense, which may be my favourite part. Great ending too, with the vox line leading into the music-box finish.

There are some minor gripes I have with this, but the package as a whole has more than enough going for it in the 5 minute running time. There are some excellent moments in here, particularly towards the end where everything is really clicking, and building to a satisfying conclusion.


Edit 19/12 (British time):

Ahh this is a shame, a revision that introduced more problems than it solved! Whereas before, the initial bass sound was mixed quietly, now it's mixed better but the sequencing is so much clearer and it's much more obvious that it sounds too dissonant with the rest of the instruments. The bell arp is also mixed way too hot, and contributes to a claustrophobic feel when it's being played - I previously commented that the piano lead from 1:01 sounded thin, but the bells are now just wiping it out. The nice, lofi vocal sample has also been buried somewhat, lessening the anticipation before the following sections, and the jingle bells and violin sample in the left ear seem too loud as well.

I appreciate the efforts to clean up the mixing, however the balance is all off, and the bass notes in the first minute need revisiting. One more pass?


Edited by DarkSim
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  • DarkSim changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (2Y/1N) NieR "Rain in Winter"

I feel like there are some disharmonies here and there, just enough to bug me.  Examples:  0:32, 0:51, 2:11-2:31 (what is that arp doing?), 3:23. Really there are too many instances of harmonic dissonance to count.  I also think the transitions between mismatched chords are not smooth and they feel very clunky harmonically.  The bass and also the primary bell arp are causing this for me.  I would be very interested to see what @prophetik music has to say about this.  Brad, am I hearing this wrong or do you agree?

The bassline's writing is very busy which doesn't work well under so much other busy writing, and the bassline writing is aimless as well and often the notes are out of key.  The bell arp plays continuously and loudly during a lot of this arrangement, and it eliminates any possibility of hearing a lead when it plays since it is so up front.  All of this busy and disharmonious writing is bugging me after two full playthroughs so far.

The soundscape is nice, but the mixing isn't great because everything wants to be upfront so the mixing lacks depth while still sounding clear/clean.  The arrangement is generally good.  But since the instruments stay essentially the same throughout the arrangement (and with the busy writing) it feels repetitive to me after awhile.  Most of the time I'm not hearing any dedicated lead (not that this is absolutely required, but it makes the mix disjointed to listen to, and I suspect this is more to do with mixing than writing).  This soundscape and writing is just too random and noodley for me, and the disharmonies put the final nail in it.  I love the concept, but I think more attention needs to be paid to which element takes the focus at any given time; there is just too much competing to be heard throughout the majority of the arrangement.


Edited by Chimpazilla
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  • Chimpazilla changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (2Y/2N) NieR "Rain in Winter"

The bass dissonance stands out to me, as well. I think it's detuned in a problematic way. It's not an instant dealbreaker for me, but it does bug me. They're a little on the loud side, too.

I see what Larry is talking about with the end being a little aimless, but I can tell what it's doing up until 4:18. After that it seems really chaotic, but it's only a bit over 20 seconds.

The tail... what is with those pop/click noises? There's a music box motif in the beginning, but a music box would never make those noises. They sound like really awful clipping, or maybe a phonograph needle skipping. It's terrible.

I really like the overall tone of this, and I think the arrangement is fine. The detuned bass detracts from my enjoyment, but doesn't eliminate it. I think the only thing I object to strongly is the artifact-like sounds at the end. That makes me a


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  • MindWanderer changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (2Y/1C/2N) NieR "Rain in Winter"

Really enjoy that first drop, haha, where it just sort of disintegrates and comes back together. 

Jingle bells are killing me a bit at 1:15 - they're just too tinny and out in front. They take attention away from the rest of the stuff going on. I like the addition of them, they're great, but they're too prominent. 

The transition at 2:30 is fun, but that guitar just jumps way the hell out there and it almost sounded like a different track started entirely. I'm all about jumpscares, but in this case it's like the master track went up 10db. Need to smooth that out so they at least sound like part of the same piece. That loudness really starts to carry forward for the next 30 seconds or so, especially with the guitar. The mixing starts to generate here, with the flute/synth melody getting buried by the very busy soundscape here, again with the jinglebells. 

We come back in nice at 4:00, but that's a minute and a half of some wonky mixing and meandering. I get what Larry is saying about the lack of direction, and it really only bothered me because it was mixed badly. If that section felt more sonically cohesive with the rest of the piece

I actually think the ending is kind of charming, even with how weird that snare drum sounds. It's like "CHARLIE THE SONG IS OVER WHY ARE YOU STILL PLAYING THAT DRUM"

Ultimately it's the mixing in that middle section that has me NOing this. That's a large chunk of the piece that doesn't feel as well arranged, orchestrated, or mixed, and it does lend credence to the idea of the song not being a cohesive arrangement. 



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  • XPRTNovice changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (2Y/1C/3N) NieR "Rain in Winter"

very split votes so far.

delay effect on the cello up front is distracting, but the bells are nice and evocative. 0:45's transition is surprising - the effect that's there is very bright and in the front for a while. 1:06 is kind of the first time everything really hits, and it's a bit of a word salad. the bass and drums are loud and in the cente,r the left ear is all bells doing arpy things...and the melodic material is in the right ear only in a quiet verb-heavy cello. it doesn't take much turning the volume down to lose the melody entirely.

1:49 is a huge break and, very loud arp aside, i love the idea and timing of it. 2:11 is back into the groove, although with some nice shifts to what's going on so it isn't copypasta. there's another break with some guitar - i love the idea, but it sounds so different than everything else, and then the choir comes in and dominates everything anyways so you can't hear anything else. 

3:16 is another shift to an organ-dominated vibe. the organ parts are great. the solo line over the top repeatedly misses what chord's underneath it and plays something that's discordant as a result. i noticed this at 3:23, 3:31, 3:35, and 3:39 as an example. i highly recommend not noodling on a pentatonic scale over a chord progression with borrowed chords. the fun in those chord progressions is the half-steps on the 3rds and 7ths from chord to chord, and pentatonic scales by definition don't have the ability to take advantage of those. i did really enjoy the shift from traditional organ to a more synth background that happened over time - that was really clever and well-handled.

3:56 is another run through the melodic material and then it's in an outro. by this point the vocal transition lick is probably overused. i also didn't quite understand the static sfx at the end.

re: the batphone: 0:32 is a borrowed chord in this context, and it's straight out of the original. it sounds weird because bells have a ton of overtones, and your ear expects certain tones when you hear these pitches. it's part of why churchbells often sound out of tune - they're not, but the overtones are so strong that some pitches sound weird next to one another. 0:51 is because it's a fretless bass, and it's a hammer-on. it sounds bad, i agree, it just sounds like a wrong note. it'd work better actually if the slide was longer and farther since it'd be more obvious what was going on. 2:11 i don't have any problem with melodically (the arp's just following the chord structure, but it's really loud).

this track smacks of careful, loving, intentional sound design. there's a ton of really interesting ideas and transitions, as expected from your music. it also has a lot of "oh, i love this part! *cranks it up*" volumization and mastering throughout, and that is not good. i think that actually the best thing you could do is have someone else master this so that the levels can be brought back into a more balanced range - or at least, give it a month to percolate before coming back to it (i get that's not really doable for this holiday as a result). the balance is so all over the place. i believe most of the concern about it not feeling cohesive is a result of this - there's less focus on the melodic line and more on the glam around it, and as a result there's nothing tying us to the original concept as much as you'd usually expect. a more consistent master should address concerns around continuity (for example, the guitar section) and should also elevate the melodic line more so as to string it all together.



NO =(

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  • DarkSim changed the title to 2023/12/13 - (1Y/1C/5N) NieR "Rain in Winter"
  • Liontamer changed the title to *NO* NieR "Rain in Winter" *PRIORITY*
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