=== This is an NGADM Round 2 Review ===
Alright, so I basically explained exactly what I think about your song over Skype, but, according to Step when I asked him "a Skype conversation doesn't count as a review you slacker get back to work slave *whip crack*"
So first off, this track is awesome. I grinned almost immediately when I heard it, because it sounds SO UNLIKE anything else in this round. The heavy emphasis on bizarre atmospheric touches, the weird panning noises, the 7/4, the drums... the DRUMS***... IN A WORLD WHERE ORCHESTRAL DOMINATES THE SOUNDSCAPE, ONE MAN... With this track and your last track I feel like you are really carving out a niche in the edm-scape, and that is pretty awesome. (Not that the "d" in edm really applies here, but who cares?)
My favorite part is around :50 when the bass comes in. Congrats, you actually managed to make a bass actually have sub content for once. </troll> The bass gets into this really natural 7/4 groove, and I was really surprised, because, uh, 7/4 and "natural" are not normally words (well, 7/4 isn't so much of a word as it is a fraction) that go together.
Then the melody comes in, and it just sounds really weird. The rhythm sounds really unnatural because of 7/4... obviously. However, 7/4 melodies don't *have* to sound really unnatural. Just look at Money by Pink Floyd, Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, or - perhaps the best example, because it's an insane jam with a bunch of awesome synth work, just like your piece - the latter couple of minutes of The Cinema Show by Genesis. (Hey, Peter Gabriel was in Genesis too! That guy really liked 7/4.) Admittedly, this is a pretty high standard to hold yourself to. I think it's pretty important that these songs have a couple of silent gaps in the melody.
(And don't you tell me that the melody is supposed to sound unnatural. You're doing that thing that midi was talking about when he posted that thread about music reviews and criticism*. Go listen to Dael by Autechre. Actually, listen to it either way, because it's a great song, and it is kind of in the similar vein of your track. It's one heck of an unnatural song, wouldn't you agree? Sounds like it's made by robots or something, just like yours? But do their melodies sound rhythmically unnatural? No, that would be a cop out. You might find it interesting that I even like this song, because the melody is actually pretty boring. That's alright though, the melody isn't the focus. The focus would be the awesome beat. Now I'm getting way afield, though.)
At this point, you're probably like "OMG JOHN**, YOU'VE WRITTEN 50K WORDS ABOUT MY TRACK AND YOU HAVENT EVEN TALKED ABOUT THE 500 HOURS I SPENT ON SOUND DESIGN." You know what? You're right. The sound design is REALLY awesome here. I really like the pads (the chord choice is delightful btw), the freaking weird snares and hats (remind me of clicking insects gah), the noise that kicks in at :09 which gives such a creepy atmosphere, etc.
Uou know what else I didn't really mention? The production, obviously. Yeah, it's pretty dang top notch. For the category of "fitting the most stuff into a single song and still making it sound good", you might just take home the award. The bass is satisfyingly bassy, the melody sits on top satisfyingly, the drums are exactly as loud as they should be, and the track is never muddled.
I honestly didn't notice any problems at all..! Hax.
The arrangement is kinda by the numbers: build -> climax 1 -> break -> build -> climax 1 which is almost copied from climax 1 except that you varied the melody a little bit. That was a little problematic for me - I like to feel like the piece develops over time, ya know?
When I compare this to your competition, I'm at a bit of a loss. You guys have nearly perfectly complimentary styles - you absolutely nailed the production, sound design and had really interesting chord choice, but your melody was eh. His production and sound design were honestly pretty bad, but his melody was very solid.
And so it seems like I must have a huge bias towards melody over everything else if I gave you guys the same score, but honestly, I score based on how likely I am to keep coming back and listening to a song, and there are really only 2 things that will cause that to happen: a great melody, or a great beat. As awesome as the sound design or production quality is, it's not gonna get stuck in my head and or make me want to listen to the song again.
Multistage rant aside, this was an awesome song. Keep it up.
* You know I only harass you like this because I love you.
** I can't believe you still haven't figured out that john isn't my name.
*** Mostly the hats. SO MANY HATS