Popular as you may be, I think you could, and should, definitely be putting more effort into these tracks.
First thing, I hear that Nexus piano and the VEC hits in the intro - first thing, you've used that piano, or pianos that sound like it, way too often! Why would someone listen to or play a song like this over a more popular and recognized one that sounds virtually the same?
You seem to have recycled your two leads (that you brought in right after the piano) which you've used in numerous other tracks. This is just another example of cutting corners - if you want it to live up to this "100th submission name," and win the MAC, this isn't the way to do it...
Your bass is an offbeat bass, another recycled idea not just by you but by virtually everyone. And considering that you've used it in what seems to be nearly all of your tracks (exceptions being tracks like Intercept, which is much better in my opinion than this is), couldn't you find something more original to do with it? Some catchy rhythm, arp, or pattern? A bass synth can sit there and do nothing to build to a track, or it can add to the track with its own unique role, say, in the intro, or used in some other creative way. And in this case, as well as many others, you seem to have taken the easy way out. Look up Paul Van Dyk - New York City (Super8 & Tab Remix) on YouTube if you want to, while not necessarily in the style you're aiming for it'll show you just how far it's possible to take a bass synth - in this case it's half of the track.
At 1:07 and sections like it, your mix is way, way, WAY too cluttered. "Complex" isn't an equivalent for "good" at all and making that mistake can kill a track, like it does for me here. Let me list what you have playing simultaneously:
- Kick (sounding like it's raw from VEC - layer!)
- Hihat Line
- Second Lead
- Occasionally a hit or two (which also are raw from VEC - filter, EQ, reverb, delay, chop the sample, do whatever it takes here!)
And then some of them have reverb, or delay, or who knows what, and I may have missed a sound or two.
Isn't something wrong here? Listen to a professional trance track and you'll rarely hear more than five synths or so going on at the same time. Clean this track up and you'll probably find it a lot easier to listen to than before. Put your drums farther in front (though don't necessarily make them louder, just more audible), cut the bass on your bass synth some, and you'll probably already be hearing some improvements.
And then the mix has way too much bass to it as well, be it from the strings or from the bass synth. The track clips frequently around 1:26 with the piano playing chord after chord, and it sounds like it's clipping when the bass is in there as well. I don't know if you just threw an EQ on the Master Channel and boosted the bass with a Low Shelf or something, but this would hardly sound good on a big speaker set with a sub, let alone on my headphones. It might just be the headphones/speakers you're mixing with, in which case, you seriously need to find new ones. These aren't doing you any good...
I don't like your progression. It's nice but uses very simple chords, as opposed to some much more moving 4-note chords and progressions you could be using, that would have added to the feeling of the track and made it much more likely to win the MAC. Though if you ARE using four-note chords, I can't hear them at all...
Why is your piano playing low notes during the peak? Don't you have enough going on in the bass ranges right now? Seriously, at least highpass it, you're murdering your mix here. :I
Your rhythms, namely for the leads, are not only repetitive but also really overused rhythms. Can't you come up with something a bit less generic, if not because you want to, then just to make up for the generic and overused kick, hits, bass, piano, lead synths, and progression? (And already, you can see how the unoriginality of this track stacks up just by cutting corners.)
Continued on my alt.