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Initial synths could do with a bit more jitter / reverb for that eerie feel, but you certainly communicated early on what you wanted, and got me on board.

I often find that simple chord progressions work well when they're built up on, and you're doing it quite well here. It can draw on a bit too much to me after a while, so yeah... I'm kinda not sure if that progression has overstayed its welcome a bit.

0:54 sounds a bit like Stranger Things' intro. That arp. Then the strings kick in, and it sounds like a horror cartoon. Not sure about that kick though... Drums feel like they lack a bit of punch when they come in.

The piece from 2:04 onwards reminds me A LOT of Phyrnna's stuff, especially from the earlier Epic Battle Fantasy games; it brings to mind various battle themes she's written in the past, and I don't doubt she'd approve of this heartily.

The cinematic thing at around 3:00 could do with a bit more buildup, something subtle in my mind, but it's negligible at this point.

4:12 was sublime, and so was the breakdown at 4:19. I kinda wish I heard more of the intro / ending instrumentation, in conjunction with the heavy cinematic orchestration -- there'd be quite the chill down one's spine, I imagine. I also agree with Jockeying76 about strengthening the bass notes of any other instrument you have there; that (contrabass? tuba?) and the bass drum complement each other and to have one toned down is to basically leave the other hanging.

Outside of all these things, it seems well produced. The balance is about right, I think. I found it pretty decent. Keep at it!

I like how sparse the intro is. Though even from the get-go, the whole mix feels like it can use some juicing up (reverb mainly, but also something to really fatten up that kick drum. Compression? EQ? It feels as though I don't sense much EQ in this piece).

I also like how you didn't go for the standard chords.

Lead feels a bit flat, and when the vox kicks in, it does make for a bit of dissonance.

You certainly have the right idea, when dipping in and out between instruments across the piece to vary it. One complaint about that, though, is that the soft sections and loud sections have way too much differential between each other *all the time.* So when it dips out, it really dips out. Throughout the piece, what hype you've been building with the beating heart of your music, the kick drum, fizzles out immediately -- and that's a feeling you want to avoid when making dance music, but also music of most genres.

Also, I like your personal touch -- was it you who sang "Can you see the clouds divide?" over at 4:57 or thereabouts?

Normally, with loops you want to have an end that gives way to the beginning -- reverb is useful for this to some degree, because it often leaves a tail that sends a shiver down the spine, especially when the intro kicks in again. Then there's also the issue of dynamics -- if your ending is soft, then for continuity's sake, it'd be wise to make your intro as soft as your ending and build up from there. Volume automation, perhaps. Or something like that.

My biggest praise with this is that you've been taking those stems and using them, but not actually sticking to the mould, so to speak. You've broken away from the stock chords, instead using your own. You've borrowed the motif from one of those high synths I used, but broken it.

Certainly keep at it -- I look forward to hearing more as you go along.

littlemusicboy1628 responds:

Thank you so much for the advice and complaints and yes, I sang the part at 4:57.

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

The mic seems clear enough. The instrumental seems quite soft compared to the voice; a good thing would be to have it as balanced as possible, with the voice taking a bit of the forefront. But more on the instrumental later, let me move on now with commentary on the voice.

Your general pitching is alright, apart from some higher notes that you're struggling with ("And now I know that I'm really home"). It's almost like you're hitting the ballpark pitch, but not the exact one.

Also, timings. Sometimes it seems as though you're coming in later than normal. How straight or swing-like the rhythm of your syllables is will change the feel of your cover accordingly. Basically, the instrumental sounds like a swing, laid-back and easygoing — roll with it, don't fight it. Feel the sway of the music as you sing.

Your voice has a breathy quality that, with more practice, would capture the spirit of this song and much more. Please keep practising — try to imitate down to detail what you hear, in order to get an idea of how a person sings and feels a song, in order to learn. Do that for as many songs as you enjoy. Then, you will be able to even put your own spin.

One final thing:

On Newgrounds and nearly everywhere else, a cover implies a complete remaking and arrangement of the instrumental (unless it's an instrument specific cover; in this case, it's a vocal cover). Because it said this is a cover, I was hoping that you were going to make an attempt at an instrumental for this. I understand what this is now, though I hold the hope that this might help kindle an interest in remaking instrumental versions of songs, or even producing. :)

All the best in the competition!

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

The song feels like I'm playing an old computer game (or a PS1 game). Really unorthodox chord progression, which I like, by and large. The orchestration, piano, choir pads, all nail the PlayStation 1 feel for me. Drums feel a bit flat, but other than that, I can get down to the instrumentation pretty alright.

Some parts go from loud and layered to soft with little warning, so maybe a slightly more gradual buildup could be used there. The chiptune melody can be distracting when listened together with the voice track; it feels as though each is trying to overpower the other.

All the best for the competition!

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

I find it quite interesting, playful, that you rearranged parts of the song -- it sounds fun, and I can hear the enjoyment you had making that! 1:18 reminds me of some Utada Hikaru songs when they have used some similar production devices in the past. I find it an imaginative thing to do, and I did notice you used some of your own sounds as well (risers mainly).

It seems to get discordant and frightening till about 2:14, when it calms. And then the cycle continues, until the song 'repairs' itself at 2:50-odd.

I guess I'm not sure what to make of the discordant parts, but otherwise it was a fun, refreshing listen.

All the best in the competition!

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

The ambience you've created with this is so ambient, and quirky, and playful. I feel like I'm chasing after a field of diamonds in the sky with the synths you've used, and that image is so vivid in my mind from listening to this. You've been imaginative with the stems, I see -- splitting them, speeding them up, seemingly making a pretty tight hip-hop beat out of it -- seriously, I could see rap vocals to it even if it has a Future Bass sound to it, but it stands pretty alright on its own.

There's something that is both relaxing and delightfully engaging about this. I find it a masterful thing to do, when someone nails two feelings at once with a song, two feelings that follow through from start to end and don't leave the listener in conflict. The song itself feels like a love letter, smooth like butter and easy on the ears from start to end.

I don't think I have complaints with the mixing; it was just as playful as the actual song and I probably wouldn't have done things differently.

All the best in the competition!

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

Already, this sounds different and I really love those chords in the intro, and the grittiness that this thing brings. When the drums kick in, it sounds like a much heavier version of Take On Me, and then the heavy metal kicks in at 1:08 and it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Very, VERY nice. I love that guitar.

Drums could stand to be a tad more powerful; they feel quite weak in the mix. The groove is so nice and simple and good, though. It sounds as though you're using defaults...

2:09, I love that ambience there. I love the simplicity of 2:46 or thereabouts, and the feeling of this.

3:40, I love what you did with those vocals. It sounds like someone really about to lick that mic, to put it in PG-13 terms. How you brought them in, and out. I could actually visualise this being played on stage at that point.

4:38 could have done with a quick, but much-needed drum fill because that feel just changed from Led Zeppelin to heavy! Take On Me again.

5:20, blast beats were a nice touch, but the weakness of the drums in the mix did underwhelm it.

There is so much I love about this remix. How different it feels. How I can imagine it being performed live, and the kind of energy that this brings, an energy that I have found rather hard to come by.

All the best in the competition!

djt820 responds:

First of all, I'm just glad you dug it haha. Secondly, you're definitely right about the drums; makes me wish I had more time on this to really refine the beats/mix.

Yeah, around 3:40 is my favorite section. This is the part that started the whole second draft. Glad you got the sensual feeling of it all.

Well, there wouldn't be energy in the piece if your vocals didn't match up to it and that's what made this song so fun and challenging to make. I hope I did it justice. Thanks for putting it all together! I hope it's not the last time we combine forces.

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

That intro sounded like Vangelis, ooooh! And that guitar, gosh, it's leaps and bounds over the original. The key change on the vox makes it sound more youthful, childlike.

Those little touches on the piano, and those Vangelis synths, have really sent shivers down my spine. I hear subtle touches of bass every so often. I am with NekoMika when she says that some bits remind her of FF; that piano certainly does give a Final Fantasy vibe. Only complaint is that the voice does get drowned out.

That solo violin melody, and those strings, all provide a nice sense of buildup. There's also those choir pads, too. They give it a more angelic vibe.

3:35 caused my jaw to drop. I rarely do that. Well done. And the way you reintroduced the instruments was equally good.

4:10, I'm not sure about the bassline there. Drums also sound a bit synthetic there, but nice rhythm nonetheless. Certainly felt rousing, though I'd probably want them to be humanised a bit more, or for a better drum sample to be used.

That ending was on point.

I appreciate that you went for a very angelic feel and that you played around with something new for what you normally do -- and I think you did quite well, notwithstanding the couple downsides I mentioned.

All the best for the competition!

SplatterDash responds:

Hey Troisnyx! Thank you so much for judging and hosting the contest. It especially means a lot that you were able to make a really amazing song for us to work off of, and a game that puts it in a fitting context (I mean come on, cats can put anything in context lol).

The vox, as amazing as they were, were probably my most challenging aspect as I put them together with everything else in mastering. Layering them together was alright, but when the instruments came in, especially at the end, I've noticed the voices are drowned out as well. Fiddling with them, though, usually led to one (or both) of two things: 1) the track wouldn't be as big and powerful, and/or 2) the track would start clipping (a big problem at around 4:34). I had to go for what I could, unless I wanted to turn stuff down or compress the living daylights out of it.

I listened multiple times to 4:10 again, but I couldn't find anything wonky about the bassline. The thing that I think may have been the issue was the fact that on every instrument during the final big part, one or two octaves of each followed the main vox. It ended up being a small detail, and it kinda didn't work since it only comes out some of the time, but it's a small detail that I was willing to test around. Speaking of tests, the drum - I kinda wanted to record the drum on an actual snare, but the only snare I have access to is one that is a six-year-old drum set snare with a questionable mic. Still, I think I may try it out the next time I need a real-sounding snare - or a real-sounding drum kit, for that matter.

Really glad that you enjoyed this! I actually took the time to listen to a few Vangelis songs while writing this, the beginning actually kinda does sound like something they would make lol. Thanks again for hosting the competition, I really enjoy the original and I probably never would have found out about it or its game without this great competition :D

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

Right off the bat, the mix feels so tonally on point, though I had to turn the volume on my cans down to be able to hear it without it hurting me. The bass, the synths, the occasional "huehuehue" laugh, they feel quite nice, very Phy.

There are bits of syncopation in 1:44~ or thereabouts, which feel quite playful. I think, from there until the end it feels so playful. Then, finally, it mellows down... and then ends unsettlingly. Creepy. Pretty effective, in my mind.

This thing feels almost like a creepypasta game's soundtrack, but not quite. That "huehuehue" laugh, that gunshot, that ending, all do suggest it and I like it, and the parts that were not creepy were lulling me into this false sense of security. You did a fine job, in my mind. My only complaint is that it's a massive wall of sound that I need to turn down.

All the best in the competition!

moreweed responds:

thanks alot ^^ hue hue hue

This is an ABFH remix contest judge's review.

To begin, I like how simple you keep the piano, though I feel as though those keys need some humanisation, big time. There are parts where the volume feels kinda samey (especially bass notes). Parts of it also tend to be loud, louder than the main melody -- which, normally, one hopes to hear in the forefront, as opposed to the background. You do some interesting things with the notes, though.

I like how you brought the backing vox in, but parts of it feel jarring (a very different, non-harmonious chord from the piano and marimba(?)).

There is a peaceful feeling that I can hear you creating, and it certainly does convey that a bit -- though I think imagining how that piano would be played with a pair of hands would be a good next step to nailing it, in my mind.

All the very best for the competition!

-------

One final word of encouragement:

You say not only that this takes you out of your comfort zone, but also that you (feel you will) never surpass the people you look up to -- in this case, Kupo and Phy. 'Surpassing,' in my mind, is a matter of perspective. From what I heard you do with the piano notes, if you aren't a pianist already, I think you have the makings of a good pianist.

I cannot stress this enough. Keep at it, even if it is demoralising. Phy and I are both pianists, and we'll have had to go through demoralising moments to get to where we are with our art, and we still have those moments every now and then. There will be moments where you feel you're down and out, and remember, you are not alone.

Because in a few years, you'll get not only the feel and touch of the keys, you'll also apply that to the music you make with a DAW. And it might feel like a long time before you get there, but it could also happen before you know it -- you'll make music that could equal, rival or even surpass what we do. Of this, I have no doubt. Keep that musical flame burning bright, and burning strong.

IPA: /tʁwɑ.niks/ || Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, writer. Member of ARM Circle. Drummer with The Just Numbers.
Speaks in various tones of meeps.

Annette Singh @Troisnyx

28, Female

N/A

Lancashire, UK

Joined on 6/26/11

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