Originally on Pixel Mixers' Mavericks of Destruction album, but revised based on judge feedback, this ambitious Mega Man X rock/funk solo debut from jmabate (Jean Marc Abate) offers strings, brass, & guitars in a high-energy jam-band incarnation of "Sigma Stage 2"! The strength & initial impact of the strings-only intro made me excited for a potential chamber-style classical take on the theme, but Jean quickly dials in a rock/funk backbone with a kick roll & addition of brass. It's a bit unorthodox, but I ended up loving the different processing on the brass, with some riffs a bit "closer" but a giant french horn rip existing on another plane, with a lot more reverb applied. Electric guitar gets more of a focus in the second half (or so), with sustained energy & development throughout. Judges agreed that the combination of varied instrumentation & exposed parts pose considerable challenges in terms of both arranging & production; Rexy writes:
"While I wasn't there for the previous decision either, I did compare the mixdown for this and the original submission side by side. I noticed some very considerable cleanup, especially when bringing out the drums and rhythm guitars with their own defined space. That said, some minor issues caught my attention. As noted, the samples for your orchestrated parts aren't great, but the articulations and velocities are varied, and the elements themselves are carefully layered. The brass ensemble, in particular, could've been cleaned up further to allow the saxophone lead to take up more space, but both parts feel defined individually otherwise. I also definitely agree with Deia regarding the lead guitar in the C sections (3:04, 4:05) starting slightly behind time and would've benefited from a re-record. Still, as they quickly re-correct themselves, they feel like no big deal, and the recorded guitars outside of those sections remain tight.
It's not what I call a perfect mix due to the instrument palette's challenging handling, but the arrangement and improved mixdown easily outweigh it. Whether you want to enhance your humanization further with the samples you have or with real performers in future works is all up to you, but for now, I'd consider this a strong showcase of your development as an arranger."
It's difficult to arrange persuasive/emotive parts on bowed, blown, & strummed/picked instruments in the same mix, but the end result is a satisfying variety of attack transients & envelopes unique to each component. Different things tend to bug different listeners, and for me the repeated crescendo/sforzando dynamics on the lead sax didn't sit quite right, but I love the chutzpah of throwing a sax solo down in the first place. prophetik music adds:
"overall the arrangement is fun when the band is all there, and the mastering is clean enough to be able to hear what's going on throughout. i didn't hear a problem with 3:04 or 4:05 - those both actually sound very rhythmic and are clearly supposed to be starting off the downbeat.
i don't think this mix is perfect by any means, but it's a fun ride throughout. i think this does enough to get over the bar. nice work to get a complex mix like this through on try number 2 =)"
Agreed; this mix tends to work more effectively when all cylinders are firing, as during the more exposed sections things can feel momentarily sparse. The intro really caught my interest, and while I wavered a bit as the initial premise morphed into a more traditional/intuitive genre (for an MMX arrangement), the artist layers in additional instrumentation and oscillates between solo & ensemble writing in a dynamic, engaging fashion. Ambitious & enjoyable debut solo featured mix from jmabate - check it out, and check out the rest of Mavericks of Destruction!
Sources Arranged (1 Song)
- Primary Game:
Mega Man X (Capcom, 1993, SNES)
Music by Makoto Tomozawa, Setsuo Yamamoto, Toshihiko Horiyama, Yuki Iwai, Yuko Takehara
- "Sigma Stage 2"
- Funk, Rock
- Energetic, Funky
- Brass, Cello, Electric Guitar, French Horn, Saxophone, Strings, Violin
- Origin > Resubmission
- 8,289,802 bytes
- Size: 8,289,802 bytes
- MD5 Checksum: db6592e5894a84d86aa8028610dcba1f
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