This is an NGADM Round 1 Review
You two are a real dream team. This is a prime example of good teamwork and collaboration. More often than not, collabs can come out disjointed or, perhaps, it might be obvious that the track was made by two people with different ideas, but in this case there's a very clear direction and a certain amount of cohesiveness that I have to commend you on. I love the general mood and atmosphere of the track, the badass intro and outro with the music box, and the overall production quality. This is excellent stuff.
In the composition department, I have a similar complaint to what stunkel said. I feel like the melodic content isn't nearly as creative or well-executed as the other aspects of the track, such as instrumentation and mood. While I got a kick out of listening to the action-packed, intense nature of the track, when it was over it left me with almost nothing to remember it by. This is precisely the kind of track which I think can benefit greatly from more significant usage of motif . On two smaller notes, I also agree that the drums, especially the bass drums/taikos could be louder, and I think the transition at 3:24 is slightly abrupt (might want to increase the length of the tail of that choir note, and perhaps fade it out a little. Could smoothen it up!).
Anyhow, congrats on getting one of the highest scores this round. It is absolutely well-deserved. And sorry for the late review!
No worries for being late! We already had two judge reviews, but it's almost an even greater pleasure to receive one you didn't expect :D
Working as a team has definitely been great for the both of us. Dem0lecule and I happen to be good at rather different things, so when we bring our ideas together, they tend to not clash with each other too much, but rather melt together into a whole instead (I like to imagine it as two colored pieces of glass, which when put on top of each other, simply create a new color :3).
That said, working in a team can definitely be difficult too. We were both very busy for the round after this, so we didn't have time to discuss much, and as I already had a pretty well worked out idea, it was difficult to leave enough room for dem0lecule and his ideas, which is why I unfortunately ended up going solo (for better or for worse) in that particular round. That, and the fact that dem0lecule especially was having an insane lack of time due to his job those two weeks :)
In the future when we collab (if all goes well, in the coming round), I think it's better if one of us doesn't plan too much ahead, which will allow us both to enter with all of our ideas together once again.
Then again, as you mentioned, doing things his way requires an extra amount of effort to achieve enough consistency. But compared to our last collab, this is way better in that regard, so I'd like to imagine we're well on our way to figuring out how to do this :D
I definitely agree with all three judges on this point, so we'll do our best to improve it in our next track, whenever we get to make it ;)
Same goes for the percussion, of course XD
As for 3:24, I actually thought about that before publishing the track, and I'm of the same opinion as you are. It was even more abrupt earlier, but I had dem0 re-render it twice already, with more reverb on the effect and a longer choir, and I found that the final result was good enough, so to say, even though I still feel it could be a bit more smooth (rendering this track had to be done in 5 separate takes, I think he said, and I didn't want to put him through it again when we were basically finished).
Thanks a lot for the review, Step! We're stoked to hear that you enjoyed most aspects of the track, and we'll try our best to improve on the other aspects in the future :D
We were super surprised to learn that we had the 2nd highest score of the round, as there were so many great tracks overall, but it allowed us to become very motivated for sure, and we still are!
You guys had a beautiful track. Really unique ideas and that start with the windup box is awesome. The violins sounded really beautiful as well. Composition was really solid as well. Unique melodies playing almost always throughout the track, it just felt really nice. Really awesome ideas. One thing I would have liked to hear are more CONCISE melodies though. While they were clear, I wasn’t really hearing a clear “this is the melody and should sing back when referencing the song”. You guys have such cool ideas in this song, it changes up SO much which is really awesome to experience.
The production is really solid as well, two things to note though. I felt that the French horn in the beginning around 1:00 felt a bit bare. It would have been nice to hear some other brass or violins which helped blend the entire track together. The other thing is louder drums! Epic and heavy drums would have fit this track really well. For these reasons, the track does feel a little bit bare, and the production wasn’t as awesome as I feel it could have been.
This is an awesome track though. Good work. Favorited.
Hi! And thank you for judging and reviewing, as well as for all the nice compliments :)
Great to hear that you enjoy the music box! Even though some have found it a bit generic, I'm glad to hear that most people have enjoyed it.
As for concise melodies, you do have a point, just like TaintedLogic below you. I am of the opinion that not everything song to repeat itself, especially if the mood stays as consistent as in this track, and the backing repeats a lot. But I guess that it's a question of preference? Science proves that people generally like tracks with a lot of repetition, as they get to feel like they "know" the piece really quickly (a great example is the song "happy").
There are a few repeating melodies, but I hid them very well in here, I think (apart from the music box at the end and in the beginning). But the horn at 1:00, and the male choir at 1:32 play the same melody (at first) though in different keys (at least the melody is in a different key, while the chords really aren't). Other than that, I guess that the trumpet at 2:46, and the horn at 3:02 play slightly similar melodies. But as you said, that's really it in terms of melodic repetition. The backing track repeats itself a lot more, but it is almost never in focus :p
As for the horn at 1:00, I get your point. I wonder if the issue isn't that the horn is too loud though... Not only would it allow for the percussion to be louder, but it would bring up the backing track more, where a lot actually is going on. But yeah, A violin could've fit there well. It's actually my fault for wanting to make the horn melody really clear XD
The trumpet AND the violin is brought forth at 1:16, so we probably could've had the violin playing earlier as well. Cool observation!
Yup. This is correct. At least between 1:00 and 1:49, but probably later in the track as well.
Actually, I think the mood of this track is a bit similar to your "Castle Theme"
Once again, thanks a lot for the review, and for the favorite as well! :D
I like the mechanical wind-up sounds at the beginning. The subsequent reverb-infested lead and cello were beautiful. I think the cello cuts off way too suddenly at :29, though. The mood in this piece is hauntingly beautiful and captivating, but I think you change up the texture of the piece too much during the first minute or so. It has a very fast-paced vibe, whereas I thought it would’ve been better to flesh out some of the ideas you had a bit more. The percussion gets buried in the mix at around 1:15. I love the variety of instruments in this track. The soundscape is beautiful. I wish you had simply connected some of the ideas here a bit more carefully, and some of your transitions seemed a bit rushed, like at 1:50. The chant-like male vocal samples at around 2:15 were cool. They offer this neat call-and-response effect with the more legato female vocals. I thought the synth bass at 3:21 seemed a little out-of-place, yet it did help you transition effectively into the coda. The ending was also enjoyable. You might have needed to consider some dynamic contrast at some point in the piece, yet the phrasing and structure overall is superb (if a little convoluted). Nice work! Keep it up, guys. ;)
This review was written for the Newgrounds Audio Death Match 2015.
I've toooootally over used those wind-up sounds by now. I think it's time to take break from them XD
That said, I do love them.
Yeah, dem0lecule is indeed great when it comes to cello magic! Very good catch at 0:29. Though it might feel like a bit of a nitpick, it's very valid. I didn't notice this at all, and I'm sure that many didn't because of that other sound that covers it up, unless you specifically focus on the cello. Maybe you had an easier time finding that as you actually play said intrument :p
As for your next criticism, I think Phonometrologist's review leaves a nice contrast with:
"The Good: I keep going between .21-1:00..."
I think it's more a matter of taste. This track is intended to be pretty fast and straight on point, except for the intro and outro, and looked that way from the very beginning of composing. The sense of climax close to the end comes more from the way the choirs are programmed, and from the more dramatic melodies, which is why I think that the first minute is actually a nice kind of build-up, as it starts of with the base, and adds something new gradually (although pretty fast, I'll give you that).
As for the percussion at 1:15, I pretty much agree. I think it's more that the overall volume feels a bit low for this piece, so if you're using your standard settings, it might give of an illusion of being even lower than it is. But even so, I think the drums should probably be a bit louder at that part, and perhaps the trumpet and horn a bit quiter. Luckily, the drums are not supposed to be in focus at that point (more backing), so it's not too fatal an error. neBSounds commented about the percussion at that part as well, so we will definitely try to note this in the future!
Interesting comment about 1:50, as I actually think it's a great transition (made entirely by dem0lecule). This whole track essentially is built upon the same backing, repeating several of the chord progressions a lot of times, so we've built a lot on top of it to keep it interesting, and not repetitive. But 1:50 is actually a kind of a short breakdown, removing several of the intruments on top, and connecting the track back to 0:36 (if you listen to the backing). Also, I personally feel that this track doesn't need much in way of melodical repetition, as both the chords and the theme stay pretty consistent throughout.
Yeah! I think dem0 did a brilliant job with the choir chants :D I want to learn to do that some day XD
I actually think that the effect firts pretty well at 3:21, as a similar effect was used at 0:28 (although much lighter), and just as you said, because it leads back to the music box. I guess we could've experimented with some other sound designs as well, but I've grown really used to the current one :p
What represents darkness better than something being convoluted? Convoluted = complicated = hard to understand = fear of the unknown = fear of darkness. Yup. Makes total sense...
As for dynamic contrast, I guess that the biggest ones are the intro/outro, as well as the mini breakdown at 1:50, so I guess we could've had some more here, but on the other hand, I like the current pace and intrumentation of the track.
That said, we'll definitely think about your criticism in the future (as we did between Fantasiamaailma and this), and if my vision of the next track we're making is somewhat in line with the end result, I think the track will be much different than this.
Thank you for the review, and great judging work, dude ;)
This is a NGADM Round 1 review!
Just kidding of course. Don't get too excited, but hey you made it to the next round. Without hearing your competitors composition, I sort of expected it.
-mixing: that timbre from that cello! reminiscent of my fav Bach partita recordings by Yo-yo ma. Every other instrument seems very balanced with the right amount of needed clarity. Personally, I don't hear any distracting issues that I could attribute to mixing.
-I keep going between .21-1:00 and there's so much going on that my brain can't grasp everything. The melodies alternating between all sorts of instruments is certainly ear-candy. Love the subtle piano in the background with that ascending bassline at fifty-eight seconds too as an example of how short and tasteful each moment comes and goes. And despite the many little parts, it still feels cohesive as a piece as if I aught to just stand back and listen that this really could be just a Mosaic.
-that music box... okay okay it's actually good considering what notes you decided to use it for. I'm not big for cliches and I end up rolling my eyes when I hear an intro like it. But just like a typical piece that people adore such as Liebesträume at a piano concert, I eventually just give in to it because it really is good no matter how many times one hears it. That drone that leads to the outro of the music box helps. Such an alluring sound with the combination of the two. In fact, the piece sounds like it's telling me "To be continued..." as there really isn't a resolution to the whole journey.
The good, the not-so good, etc. whatever. Forget all of that. Who cares what I think? I certainly don't when I listen to this. I feel sometimes giving too much analytical thought diminishes the integrity of a piece. Music is meant to be an experience and this certainly was. Perhaps not for all, and perhaps not completely deciphered accurately. Can't we just let music be for music's sake? Well it's a fun competition so we'll have to stumble around and try to use words to explain why our own interpretation of a sound resonates with us more than another piece, meanwhile, somehow use numbers to weigh the intangible.
When I listen to this and see the artwork along with it, I realize defining the theme and purpose is defeating the point. Sometimes emotion exceeds reason beyond for me to try to interpret its message.
"This is a NGADM Round 1 review!"
=> Lol, of course it is XD
Considering the lenght and the quality, it may as well be one ;)
I'm also glad to hear that you had faith in this track making it to the next round.
It's great that you like dem0lecule's cello! He is great at programming cello's in general. He is the cellogician ;)
When it comes to intrument balance and clarity, I actually directed quite a bit of it, based on my personal tastes. I probably caused a mixing nightmare for dem0... But things came out fine in the end, so I'm glad we put work into this :D
0:21-1:00 is all dem0lecules work. It's the base we started working on, but I think it's good that we left some of it untouched, as I too like that part.
The piano at 0:58 actually inspired me to write the melodies for the next minute, as the part felt very empty, and the piano originally lead to nothing specific at all :)
We tried to make this track more consistent than the previous collab, because even though we love it, many were complaining about the "randomness", I guess.
=> Totally my fault, hahha XD I definitely get what you mean, with it being cliche and all :p I guess I just have a natural drawing towards music boxes in general (I even own one that I can program with a sheet of paper, a bit like a player piano). The first intro I wrote for this track pretty much sucked, like... A lot! So on the day we submitted, I had two different new ideas, but we just went with this one, as we thought it was good enough, and gave a sense of the beginning and end being tied together. Sometimes, though I am a huge friend of variation, I try to be as cliche as possible, because people tend to like a sense of familiarity in music too. But I definitely see your point :3
And for the last paragraph, I agree as well. I don't think that music is something that can be objectively judged, if at all (well, to begin with, I don't really believe in objectivity at all, but that's another discussion). I possess the ability to not criticise something I am experiencing, be it a movie, a book or a composition. My theoretical skilla are bad enough for me not to recognize the chords or melodies unless I try! Which actually gives me a sense of freedom when listening to something I enjoy; I can ignore everything else, and just enjoy whatever I am experiencing :D
On the other hand, competitions like these are great ways to motivate people to try hard and evlove, as well as bring communities closer together. Leaving a score as a number is perhaps not the best system, but it works to somewhat of an extent. PeterSatera and others have discussed this before too, and tried to think up alternate ways.
Here's an interesting thought: Does everything need to have a message? I certainly didn't even have a specific and defined thought behind this track; I just did what felt right, perhaps based on something on a subconscious level. I mean, I got an image in my head after the track was done, sure, but I actually didn't intend this for anything else othar than enjoment, thus leaving the interpretation rather free. As for dem0lecule, who made the base, based on the weirdest thing, the story is more interesting. So at first, I made a track (that we'll likely use as a base for the next round), which I sent to dem0lecule. And the legend says he dreamt about the track being played by a music box in a swamp, which inspired him to write this track. Very cool :D
I don't think most people could've known that by listening to this! But I guess that the music box in the track makes sense for the wrong (or maybe right?) reasons now anyway :p
"Fantasiamaailma" had many times more intent behind it than this track though, I dare say, perhaps not surprisingly.
And then there's tracks like "Medley of a Shattered Mind", where the concept became clear to me halfway through the composing process. I think that most if not all forms of art, can be interpreted freely regardless of the creators intent, unless you want to look at it in the same way. After I've made something, although I may guide someone in looking at it like I do, I think everyone should be and is free to interpret any kind of message, or none at all.
Thanks a lot for the long review!!! Much appreciated.
outstanding work dudes! I absolutely love the music box intro and outro and that cello sounds gorgeous. choirs really gives the tune a lot of tension and I love the electronic elements thrown in every now and then. my only gripe with the piece is the drums at the 1:00 mark, I understand you want them to be subtle so they have a bigger impact later but they sound a bit flat to me. This is just me picking hairs though the piece really is amazing.
Hey, dude! Thanks for listening and for reviewing :D
Great to hear that you like several elements of the track. The cello and the electronic stuff were put there by demolecule, as were the percussion :)
I'm guessing you feel that they should've been louder at that point? I can't say for sure, but I think the reason they may be a bit too soft is because they couldn't have been louder with the current mix at that point. Maybe the horn should have slighty less velocity? I'm not sure how much they could be increased there anyway though :p
Thanks for the suggestion, and for the nice compliments! :3
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