* This is an official 2017 NGUAC review *
Mm, good times. On to specifics...
Mixing, mastering and production: Really great. I only have slight criticisms. The piano sound at the beginning is a bit obviously virtual - you could use careful velocity editing and heavier reverb to fix it (or get a better piano vst, but that's the expensive option).
I could have used a bit more bass and umph in the heavy sections; they were just a little underwhelming.
The master sounds just a tad overcompressed at points.
Composition: A lot of good stuff here. The chorus melody and chord progression are both ace. I think overall, Serenity is just ambitious enough - it includes a variety of instruments and ideas without it being an overwhelming amount of either. Your pacing and sense of when enough is enough is really solid.
I heard a few elements that seemed like cliche electronic tropes...cutting out to a group of toms panned from left to right, the cutoff filter turning up in the build to the drop, etc. These aren't inherently bad, I've just heard them a bunch before, so it's less original. If you can innovate new fills, new ways to build to sections, then that would pump up my originality score.
Otherwise, good stuff!
Thanks for the feedback!
I like the warm piano at the beginning, and the chopped vocals at :25 were a nice touch, too. The progression is enjoyable, and I enjoyed the sense of climax into 1:02. The melodic content at 1:02 is fun, and the production quality is strong (as per usual with you). You do a good job of using the entire frequency range throughout, and the piano solo at 1:50 was a nice touch. The only negative aspect of the composition that stuck out to me was that the outro felt a little drawn-out. Otherwise, really strong work here, 8-bitheroes! ;)
Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback. I think your right about the outro, i might shorten it.
== This is an official NGUAC Review ==
Wow, this is quite the electronic track. I definitely get the impression that you did your hardest to make your absolute best track, and I think that all your work has paid off.
First off, the mixing here is really good. Right from the beginning with those rich and large piano chords I knew I was in for a well mixed treat. The two drops do not disappoint in the slightest - the pad sounds are equally huge and full sounding. If I were to complain, I might say that the drums are a bit quiet, but it doesn't detract from my listening experience. The chord progressions that you chose are satisfying without feeling overused.
I hear a lot of people complaining that vocal chops are overused; I disagree. From a sound design perspective, I think they add a great texture to your track. The vocal chop *melody*, however, seemed a bit random and it definitely doesn't feel like it's pushing the song in any direction or has any sort of satisfying groove to it.
The piano breakdown at 2:10 is definitely a good idea, and helps balance out the energy of the track, but to me it sounds a bit too robotic (try varying how hard you hit the notes) and the rhythms of the notes are a bit too straightforward. This is a criticism I would like to extend to your entire track, actually - the vocal chop rhythm is too simple, as is the melody in the drop on the square wave thingy.
Speaking of the square wave lead in the drop, I can't help but feel like it's a bit of a missed opportunity. Currently it's played a little too 'straight' for me to really get into it. The rhythms could be more interesting, and there could also be a lot more modulation on the synth - adding vibrato would be an EASY win to make a better melody here, but pitch bend, filter cutoff, or even modulation of other parameters would also help to give more life to that synth.
While talking about the drop, I can't help but notice that even outside of the synth the entire thing is rhythmically kind of... boring. Try adding in hihats with interesting rhythms, or plucks or other details to add more complexity to the rhythm.
Let's talk a little about arrangement. On one hand, I feel like you did such an excellent job with builds, breakdowns, and adding/removing elements that it pains me to score you low in this category, since you clearly understand arrangement very well. On the other, I feel like this song is just too long - like, you explore the same idea for too long, the two drops basically sound the same, and you desperately need to switch up the chord progression. I eventually decided to dock points because I really don't feel like the arrangement is pulling the weight it needs to be. The drops need to be varied up more, and you need to either explore more chord progressions OR shorten the song to keep it maximally interesting.
Mini-scores (not used to calculate final score in any way - just so you know what needs improvement):
Sound Design: 3+/4
Thanks for the detailed feedback. I agree with some of those points like how some vibrato would of added some extra spice to the melody. You mention other forms of modulation such as pitch bend which if you listen carefully to the lead i have applied pitch bend/slide in strategic places. Personally its not and effect i like to overdo though.
I totally agree about about the note velocity thing, it could do with a little more humanising. In terms of note rhythm during the piano parts to be fair im not a pianist, not even close and therefore when i write a piano melody or part i dont think like one.
I dont really see how the drops can be rhymically boring however, granted its not in an odd time sig or anything crazy but hey its future bass...however I used bongos sparingly in the drop to add extra rhythmic interest along with lots of drum fills/background arp/pluck too and pauses/rests between chords to create more groove.
The two drops are the same though and this is something i struggle with in all my songs because once i have written the first drop im usually too spent to do another one that sounds fresh.
WoAH i love this! this is some great melodic dubstep here friend <3
The production and mastering is on point. I love that sound
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