Those are quite some compliments, and some valid critiques!
I'm glad you like the melodies. I think I played it pretty safe in order to keep it interesting, Irish, and still original. Having a bit of a familiar feel, even if it's a new melody, often helps capture some attention and make a piece more easy for a first time listener to enjoy :)
There are way more skilled people at me, when it comes to capturing the elements of a genre or style! I try though, so I'm glad my effort shows. I actually really like that I never had to be confused abut what my "own sound" was. It kind of developed naturally! On the flipside, one often recognizes works as mine, when hearing them. Not necesssarily a bad thing at all, though!
I think I get what you're saying with the shifts in focus between instruments. There are some parts I feel work quite well, while you're definitely right about certain parts. This song is a bit wishy washy in structure, to say the least, and doesn't really take its time establishing its array of sounds. That's probably partly because I wanted to do so many different things, in so short a piece.
It's interesting that many people seemed to liken this to video games, and the music of say Zelda! I'm happy to hear that :)
I actually selected the instruments before I started composing. Partly, because about 4-5 of them were suggested by Jay, and partly, because I just took whatever I had with an Irish sound xD
So that's why they mostly go together stylewise, at least in the first part!
The quality of the instruments in the second part are better (which is another reason it seems to be better mixed), but they are less style-specific.
While I'm glad you noted my use of percussion, I admit to some laziness! About 50% of the percussion is loops, while the other 50% are things I actually "programmed" myself in the key editor. Percussion was required to drive the piece, I feel, and I wanted it to sound pretty good. I find loops are good for practicing mixing too, when it comes to percussion. Thanks to them, I've progressed slightly in that area :)
I really like the metal as well! I want to try out similar things in the future. I think the metals are actually ceng ceng cymbals. They are also loops, but I modified them a fair deal, to get the sound you hear in the piece. To begin with, the loops are fairly short, so I had to make them seamless, and give them the right place in the mix, and use them atmospherically. You'd understand what I mean if you heard the original sound :D
Thanks for taking the time to analyze the mix! I don't think I EQ'd the piano in the beginning. It's a preset of the Maverick, which happens to have a more in your face and "cold" (imo) sound. I recall you not liking that preset earlier as well, when I used it as an example for "Recovery".
I agree the mix becomes messy! I don't think it's the reverb, I think I simply crammed in too many instruments with similar frequencies at the same time. It's because I had decided to only use the Kontakt ones there, and I wanted to use all of the Irish/celtic ones. Silly, I know! But eh :V
In general, if the arrangement isn't good, no mix can save it. That said, the mix could be improved from what it is atm anyway, ofc. But someone more talented than me would have to do it!
I 100% agree when it comes to the harp glissando, and I knew about it when I put it there as well. I kinda like that weird sound though. I kept it in because the sound reminded me of a track I like from an old game. It's not just the mix, but the notes played actually don't necessarily go along well with the melodies played there. But I like the weird harmonies there. It also distracts the listener from main melody at that part, and makes the transition easier.
You may be right about the crash! I don't hear it. I just used it for effect, and though it did the job well of covering the tracks of the previous part. I used a fair deal of reverb, I think it's once again the sample that's not to your taste, and maybe I used the wrong sound at the wrong place (That crash doesn't have much of an actual crash, but is kind of more like this weak "dushhhh", kind of floaty and atmospheric). As for where I placed it in the mix, I think there could've been a better place.
The bell in a nice idea from the perspective of sound! But, I think that would've been a bit too generic there, and also wouldn't fit the genre or sound I was going for too well. But I think you're right about there being something missing... Well, it's like it is now! Thanks for the great suggestions :D
The mix improves indeed, because it's not as crammed, and because the instruments are simply better at that oint.
I'm glad you like the structure, because I think it's a complete mess! Not that I mind complete messes :p
Thanks again for all the kind words, and the super thorough and thoughtful review!