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A Wasteland Dream Of Cables And Calamities


Author Comments

Entry for NGADM 2021 Round 2! A longer & more detailed version may be released in the future, as this is still unfinished! (Ran out of time, as usual for me haha)


"The year is 2052. It's been decades since World War Three occurred. The northern hemisphere of the planet still remains as a hostile wasteland despite the first signs of civilization start to reoccur across the Eurasian continental zone. I've heard theories that the southern hemisphere is doing only a little bit better since Africa and South America apparently were not targeted, but how would I truly know the survival numbers? I watched the remaining few satellites from the old days which were still in orbit, fall back to earth only a few years ago, fragmenting and breaking apart like a beautiful meteorite storm in the night. Even with the settlement that about two-hundred of us have formed in the ruins of what used to be one of the many towns on the outskirts of London and the hard work of multiple now elderly academics from the old days, it's a struggle to get some of the old basic electronics back online."

"That's where a small group of us, myself included step in. We're scavengers, scouring the ruins of the old urban areas, clearing out locations and trying to find whatever we can. Scrap metal, board components, intact wiring, preserved vehicle components. You name it, we've probably got a use for it. There are other groups of scavengers around, some of them at varying levels of technology lower than us, others more advanced than expected and utilising new experimental machinery and weaponry from the inner-city mega-settlements. Regardless, we've developed the means to form our own local mesh-internet system and even get some drones working, so it's not all that bad right now."

"Nature took a hefty beating when the nukes dropped all those years ago. The first few waves of payloads alone not only flattened entire forests, but made the majority of them afterwards burn to the ground. The nuclear winter which followed afterwards and the sudden cooling of the planet as the ash blocked out the sunlight killed off all but the hardiest of surviving flora. Back then, an intact tree was something to marvel over, I've still got the preserved print-outs of them in photo frames within my cabin. It's only just about now that the forests have began to regrow to at least a reasonable fraction of their former selves. The old urban streets as well which have fallen into disrepair are also showing signs of nature reclaiming them, as the cracks widen and the grass begins to grow back through them. Some of the less sturdy buildings have also collapsed, creating safe-havens for vulnerable small mammals in the rubble."

"Walking through the dusty ruins of what was once civilization... gazing upon nature itself come back from this level of devastation and reclaiming the land as the years pass on... stepping over the skeletal remains of what used to be friends and family members before the war happened..."

"Sometimes, I can still remember the sounds of how we all used to enjoy life, with the happy families in the parks, and a vague sense of progress and hopefulness in a more peaceful future once. But my memory is getting hazy as the years go by as to how that all used to sound, like my memory is starting to deteriorate. Maybe the years of radiation is finally getting to me... I mustn't think about it for too long... I must keep moving..."

"This is the world we live in now. I will be lucky to survive even another few years."


One of my biggest regrets this year was not being able to getting around to doing a proper 2nd entry for AIM this year (even though the first one still somehow got me the 1st place win!). So the plan was to do a piece called 'A Wasteland Dream' based around the following artwork by KEINGARRISON ( overpaint ) and do something predominantly Blade-Runner influenced with design choices, with a touch of extra post-apocalyptic themes in the mix (I spoke about the idea of doing it over on a couple of NG-based User/Shared Discord Servers at the time). Unfortunately I never got the time to make proper progress on it beyond some drafting and a few custom CS80 V3 patches. Further to that, that old template file is now too unstable to do anything in (actions take around 1 minute for the DAW to register and I hit processing-locks constantly) to do anything other than to grab the couple remaining old CS80 V3 synth patches and then scrap the template file and all of the scores in it as a lost cause ;(

So several months have now gone by, and I find myself in the second round of NGADM 2021 after having a very strong first round making and submitting Exoskeleton Deathmatch (another 'I wasn't expecting that' results, as it got the highest average of the round outright!). Spending the day looking back through my personal notes section of ideas and influences, I kept coming back to several OST's for influence. Spending an entire day listening to them alongside some of my other favourite projects on the Dark Ambient side such as Dahlia's Tear and Skrika, it ended up giving me enough sudden inspiration to revisit my old thoughts for 'A Wasteland Dream'. So after sitting around for a couple hours and doing a specially adapted DAW template for this kind of style of project (slightly more trim overall, but with some specific libs added in I'll get to in abit) and starting a new version of 'A Wasteland Dream' from scratch, I've started to draft things up. Within a few hours experiencing a sudden mini-mania episode in the process and working at almost light-speed compositional idea generation and getting alot of it drafted to a 'skeletal' state, the beginnings of this project formed.

It's snowballed from there, to what I have now...

There have been a few things I wanted to specifically do as well for this project:

  • Arturia CS80 V3 had to feature as the main synth-of-choice for leads, and all patches used to be of my own design. The 'Blade Runner Blues' lead is a partial exception, as I looked up a rough visual on how to get the basic sound, then I spent awhile fiddling in CS80 V3 until I got something 'very close'.
  • 8DIO's Electric Violin and Electric Cello libraries were to be used in the project togeher, alongside 8DIO's Bazantar
  • Dawesome Abyss had to feature as the main synth-of-choice for pads, as it's a genuinely incredible sounding and quick-workflow tool for getting the most potent of celestial-like pads/atmospheres (making it perfect for a project like this)
  • The inclusion of other emulations or deep-sampled Kontakt libs of certain units, such as the Waldorf Microwave XTK, the Access Virus B/C and the Korg M/0w ROMPLER series etc. All personal preferences that I love the sounds of!
  • Multiple Analog-Hardware emulations to be used throughout the project to give a 'vintage' coloured tone to everything (bx_console_n/Neve VXS on all mixer channels at different TMT values + NEOLD BIG AL used surgically are the two biggest contributors to this)
  • The theme itself had to be both Wasteland & Apocalypse focused, with enough of an open-story in audio format to allow the listener to feel as if they've been transported into such a scene.
  • As much as possible was to be recorded live for the leads. Minor quantizing at most
  • All had to be done in NGADM's 2 week time limit, with only a couple hours an evening available of my time to actually sit in my DAW and get this all done. So this is to an extent a rushed piece with a few ideas which had to be cut for time-limit reasons.

I feel as if I've at least got the above in for now, although the main thing left will be to see what the ADM judges make of the project overall. It's certainly been a gamble trying this out, but I'm willing to risk it. Regardless of how this project scores in Round 2, I'm still pretty happy that I've done it, and I hope you all at least find something cool to take away from it!

There's a few errors here & there, but there's nothing I can do about it now haha

Inspiration artwork for the project: https://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/keingarrison/overpaint


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Simply amazing!! I'm soo happy to have been part of this! thank you!

keep up the good work!!

The beginning has a bit of a Vangelis feel. The middle feels like sorta Doctor Who-ish. Then back to Vangelis. The halfway point onwards was kinda Tangerine Dream. Near the end kinda Howard Shore, kind of James Horner. All and all a good combination.

Official 2021 NGADM round 2 review

Your intro threw me for a fun surprise. I instantly fell in love with the soundscape you made that didn’t even take you all of 30 seconds to set. I really like the “lazy” or sad sounding violins that add such character. As I said, once the synths came in at 0:58 it instantly changed the feel of the track, but I was happy with that surprise. Really combines it into a dystopian/cyberpunk feel. The only thing that I really don’t like with this song is your solo violin thing that starts at 1:44. To me it sounds too thin and has too much vibrato in spots. Although I think that’s my only noteworthy complaint about this whole song.

During the whole piece, knowing what you’ve made in the past, I can hear your flavor instilled in a number of the synths and their sound design. I like how you’ve contrasted your higher pitch and lighter instruments with brooding and ominous low frequency synths. 3:20 is a spot where I can hear that happening, 4:38 is another good example, the 5:10 section, it’s a nice contrast you have littered throughout the whole thing I feel like.

You have some really good dynamics happening, and, not talking about the description, you have a nice element of storytelling. I feel like I do get a little lost with the melodies you have going on in a couple of sections. Either because my mind loses track of where the melody came from half way through, or in the 5:30 section where there’s just a lot of melodies and countermelodies happening at the same time.

In terms of your production and mixing, I think it’s pretty solid. There might be a bit more delay and reverb for what I would like to hear personally to make it feel a little more cleaner, but that might run the risk of taking out too much of what works here. Overall though I’m happy to review this piece even if what I have isn’t a lot of critique. Knowing your style this was a welcomed departure and something I would not have expected to come from you, and to the fact you’re making it has a really cool flair that not many other people would have even thought to attempt.

Nice story you got there

Credits & Info


4.59 / 5.00

Sep 5, 2021
11:55 PM EDT
File Info
17.8 MB
7 min 46 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.