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O Mysterium

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Author Comments

O' can't you see
I would hold this water
it's plain to see
I would drown in these arms

We eat and bleed
trade with hands, hearts, and larders
and attempt to seed
our fathers' farms

I may have been a bit too ambitious with this one. I feel like competitions are often won with bombastic cinematic flourishes and audio explosions, so naturally I went a completely different route. I wanted to do something melodically/harmonically minimal with deep textures and odd phrases. I also tend to nerd out over early polyphony and the ars nova, so this was an opportunity to experiment with incorporating that into an electroacoustic setting. I think the juxtaposition of acoustic instruments against cold, relentless electronics is fascinating.

Most of the sound design and processing was done using a collection of custom software created specifically for this project (though borrowing from concepts I've toyed with in other tracks). The piano was the Steinway D vst from East West (processed to soften the sound and give it a lower fidelity feel). Percussion was carved from simple wave forms (sine waves, white noise, etc), and samples created using a screw and a plastic disk. The voice was...a pain in the butt.

I'd like to come back to this at some point and continue working on it, but for now, times up! Here's my NGUAC 2017 knockout submission for better or worse.

Best of luck to the other participants <3

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It is going to sound weird, but I can see this in a video package for wrestling or something. I like it. Keep up the awesome. :)

You've got a new fan. I love the style of your work! It's very inspiring.

* This is an official 2017 NGUAC review *

Mm, so epic. On to specifics...

Mixing, mastering and production: You got a solid score here (8.33), but the reason I couldn't go higher is because of lack of material to judge. This is a very sparse piece and as such there's not very much to judge haha. From a production standpoint, I have little to offer in terms of feedback.

Composition: Really cool idea. The droning style of O Mysterium is bold but you pull it off. My only real criticism is on the structure. The beginning and ending are very abrupt - things just sort of start and stop all of a sudden. A more well-thought out intro and outro would have been nice to hear.
The length of O Mysterium is just right, I think - enough that the droning nature of the piece doesn't become stale and long enough to get all your ideas in without rushing them. My issue was in lack of structural repetition. Every part of O Mysterium is valuable, but because there's no repetition it's very hard to ground myself as a listener. I have no home, no safe ground. This is perhaps not inherently good or bad, merely an artistic choice, but it ended up taking away from the piece for me.

Keep up the good work!

sleepFacingWest responds:

Thanks! Truth is I ran out of time. I feel like there should, at the very least, be another verse, but the prep work for this one took a lot longer than anticipated and I ended up having to submit what I had. After the competition is done and the dust has settled, I'd like to revisit this piece and finish it properly.

I like the air of mystery at the beginning. The high-pitched percussion sounded a tiny bit harsh. I’d suggest toning down the treble a bit. Overall, the sound design is really cool, though. The piece is a little slow to progress, but the melodic content at :33 is really refreshing and smooth. I wasn’t a huge fan of the vocals, tbh. They sounded really unnatural, and the pronunciation really betrays that (e.x.: “watuuuurr” at 1:17). The piece has a soothing flow, but I think you could’ve done a lot more to give it some shape and also flesh out the structure. The lyrics themselves are really good, and I love the melodies at 2:06. The atmosphere and sound design are probably your strongest assets here. The composition just needed a bit more variety in the energy and dynamics to keep me engaged. Keep at it, SleepFacingWest! ;)


Credits & Info

4.53 / 5.00

Jul 25, 2017
3:48 PM EDT
File Info
6.8 MB
2 min 59 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.