Hey man. Just dropping in with a mini review to tell you how much I enjoy this track, as evident by the fact that I favourited it. This is certainly one of the best Secret Santa tracks from what I've heard and I think mine just pales in comparison! Really awesome.
Right, what I like the most would be, yup you guessed it, the melodies. You have this really definable melodic style that instantly screams "johnfn" when I hear it crop up in one of your tracks. It's lyrical, upfront, almost cantabile, and often played by silky smooth synth leads that sound so pleasing and gentle to the ears but perfect for those glorious climactic moments like 2:08. Your main melody is incredibly memorable and likable right from the start. All of my yes.
Again, I need to add that for some reason your melodic style really reminds me of Reasoner. It's much more present in your piano-oriented tracks but I still notice it here. In particular, I'm referring to his older tracks (which you might've not heard since in the review response you gave me to 'wide world' the first thing you said was that his drums are good, when his old piano tracks shined for their beautiful melodic content and almost never had particularly impressive drums haha). Check out these three tracks from him, maybe you'll see what I mean!
Anyway, I also love the sonic style you've got going here. It's a nice mix between nostalgic video game music (especially with those chiptune-esque wobbly thingamabobs like at 0:30), spacey alien music and an overall uplifting and fairly Christmassy vibe. You've got precisely the right instruments and mixing choices to bring out these different musical flavours.
Speaking of the mixing, excellent work. Everything's clear, and nothing stands out unpleasantly. Props on the reverb you used on the lead synth - I didn't like it much in certain parts of your NGADM final track 'the fight', but here it sits beautifully in the track and makes that spacey, almost-but-not-quite trippy feeling shine.
Most of the technicalities are nailed. Love the structure, adore the approach to that wonderful 2:08 high point of the track, and the intro and outro are understated yet captivating. If I had to point out any criticisms, it's that your main melody, as good as it is, was getting old by around 2:45. Thing is, it works perfectly as an end to the track. Might I suggest adding another similar lead synth in that outro playing harmonies or counter-melodies under the main melody?
Small nitpick; no biggie. Again you provide a wonderful listening experience that's a present to anyone's ears, not just headphoamz's! Keep it up :3.
YESS. I'm going to hog up all of your reviews. *cackles*
It cracks me up that your "mini-review" is about as long as everyone else's review combined.
I didn't even put it in the description this time because I feel like it biases people or something. Also because I would sound really self-aggrandizing. But yeah that main melody, I don't know where it came from but I love it. In the 2:08 section it feels like a giant hug. Or like MightyManotaur said, unrequited love.
So since I liked it so much I was pretty sure I could count on you to like it too. haha
> silky smooth synth leads
I dunno why, these kind of leads just speak to me.
> Reasoner Reasoner Reasoner Reasoner
> Reasoner x9000
LOL. Yeah I think I was focusing on drums because the piece I just finished was getting a lot of flak for drums coming out of nowhere haha.
But yeah wow. This guy DOES sound a lot like me. I've been playing the piano a lot recently improvisationally and his use of motif, the ABAC patterns and the general movement of chords (which is really beautiful) and so forth really reminds me of my playing. Though it is certainly a lot more refined than my doodles.
"Dear World" just repeats that one motif throughout the latter half of the song and it's still amazing asdfg how is this possible.
"The Last Flight" is something else though. Wow it's so open! Feels like exploring a new world.
> spacey alien music
This is the best genre, no contest.
> sound design choices
If you like this sort of stuff though, check out http://ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com/album/love-everlasting (start with Love Everlasting, the song). I feel like he really laid down the groundwork. I guess it really got under my skin more than I thought, since the sound design ideas from that album are starting to show up in more and more of my tracks.
> wobbly thingamabobs like at 0:30
Haha funny story, I was just trying to do a normal arp with a square wave, but I didn't realize how zoomed in I was on the piano roll. Then I played it and I was like "ahh, so that's how that sound is made."
> but here it sits beautifully in the track and makes that spacey, almost-but-not-quite trippy feeling shine
Yeah I think that the problem in the fight was that the first section was very close and non-reverby, so the heavy reverb stuck out. In this song, the whole thing is awash in reverb, so it fits fine on the lead.
> Might I suggest adding another similar lead synth in that outro playing harmonies or counter-melodies under the main melody?
This is a really nice idea. See I almost wish you would complain more, because you always come up with good ideas. I definitely have trouble judging when melodies are getting old, but I'm getting closer to figuring it out I think.
Finally, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to review this. I know you're busy and I appreciate it.
I don't get the title, but this song is beautiful and happy and kind of sad all at once. there's definitely a kind of unrequited love thing going on. like WALL-E with Eve in that Pixar movie.
now I get the Robots in Space title! :P
YES! After I finished this song I was totally thinking about WallE and Eve. It's kind of amazing you picked up on that haha.
That felt nice.
I absolutely loved the atmosphere in this. And actually, contrary to what BlueOceans said, I really liked the sound of the lead synth - and the levels of the bass synth are only MAYBE a little too high until you crescendo the lead. Personally I think the way the lead comes out from just under the bass gives that transition a nice contrast, and that the sound of the bass synth is still round enough that it manages to feel subtle despite being a little louder than the melody at the start. But hey, opinions opinions, they're like tomatoes around here.
In a weird way it reminded me a bit of Donkey Kong Country, but I have no idea why because as far as I can remember this doesn't really sound anything like those games. STRANGE.
Really enjoyed your panning work, worth putting headphones on for.
That was a lot of talk just to say I liked it, but hey. I did.
If there's one thing I might suggest, it's to look at the drums. The sounds you used for those were the only thing that seemed to stick out to me - they worked, but they felt a little out of place, a little too bright and pointy, if that makes sense to you. That, and the individual drum sounds were very static - for example the kick sound was exactly the same sound every time it was triggered, as far as I heard. It would be nice if those sounds were a little more varied, because drums get triggered so often that the sounds get redundant. That said, I understand that this is picky and that this is something that gets skipped very easily on a deadline - I have often skipped this myself, only to regret it later.
But who knows, I might be the only one bothered by that. ANYWAYS, nice work, and merry christmas!
Thanks! I see the comparison to DKC, I think they both have a nostalgic sort of vibe to them. I actually haven't listened to DKC all too much, getting on that right now. I like it a lot. Maybe it's also the vibrato lead :D
I WAS pretty lazy on the drums. I had trouble because it's a pretty laid back song, so I thought I couldn't do anything too special or complex. You're right though, I could have done better there.
Thank you for the extensive review and merry christmas to you too!
How wonderful this is! It's really pretty and I love how absolutely nostalgic it sounds. What a great gift, thanks johnfn :)
Ah, thank you! I was actually super nervous to have you as a secret santa person. I'm glad you liked it. Merry Christmas!
I really love this. Aside from Blue Oceans true constructive criticism, I love the atmosphere and editing, like that one intentional glitch-edit about 2/3 of the way in.
The truth is that that was actually a mistake - because I have the trial version of dblue glitch, it lost the original glitch I did. But I liked it enough to keep it in :) Thanks for the review!
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.