Official AIM 2018 Review!
From the jump, I like that first chord. Second could probably use an inversion. Third and fourth resolve well together. This is an improvement from your first entry; the chords aren't laying down flat but instead sway in the sound space a bit. This is good.
I like the general premise of this theme, and it certainly has the spacey feel you were going for. However, I do notice a definite structure and still feel like some elements have been copied and pasted throughout. Rather than applying variants to this structure (since there are no lyrics, we must strive to say something different with each phrase while holding onto the nuances of the theme) it feels like you've kept most of the elements the same, without applying an overarching melody. This is great for an instrumental to rap over or a background piece, not so much as a thematic statement. It ends up feeling incomplete.
You might try experimenting with overarching melodies in your choruses -- with sustains, not stabs. I hear what you're doing with those bells, but it sounds less like melody and more like harmony.
I would also say that this piece fits more into synthwave than it does modern hip-hop; that suped up reverb on your percussion, the straight hats, toms, and etc. until your chorus lends so strongly to an 80's vibe, I can't shake it.
I would also like to say I do appreciate this contrast of styles. It lends to a more living, breathing piece.
Now, onto instruments and mixing.
Mix wise, this piece is very quiet, and it feels almost as if the high 15-22khz has been severely chopped off, seemingly for each instrument. Looking at the spectrograph, I can also see that mastering compression has not been applied to the track as a whole. The peaks are all sitting about where they should for pre-mastering. This is taking a lot of polish off your mix, alone.
Also, it sounds like a LOT of reverb has been applied, perhaps a bit clumsily, to give individual instruments a very roomy sound. I'm hearing so much 'verb at points, I can hardly pick out different percussion instruments, where they're supposed to lay in the mix -- kind of like being closed up in a shipping crate with a bunch of rocks rolling down the side of a mountain. I can hear the metallic attack, pre and post delay, and decay. Either bring that big 'verb signal down a tad or dampen and EQ it. As is, your perc is sounding less spacey and more muddy.
Delays, for the most part, those are sounding good. I'd like to hear them panned a bit harder, but that's probably my personal taste.
Transitions for this piece were mixed in fairly well. I'd have liked them a bit more obvious, perhaps longer.
At 1:01, this drum loop is loud enough, it almost sounds like it's being treated as the melody. I would have appreciated more variation on this. 30+ seconds of the same drums? No matter how good they are, they become too predictable to be enjoyable; this section is longer than your chorus!
I also don't like that triangle; it's sounding pretty dry. It comes in better context in the outro.
808's could have been louder. Percussion as a whole is lacking the high fizz edge around 16-19k and in general needs compressed to stand out in the mix without laying over it.
I would have appreciated more variations and fills in hi-hats and toms rather than simple overlays alongside the track. Using a structure is fine, but remember to use your percussion to accent what your melody and harmony are saying.
Also, I'm noticing in both of your pieces, you tend to use bells to convey your melodic content. Bells have a great attack, and if sustained can be good vehicles for melodic content, but I'm noticing you tend to use them as background harmonies with a few accents over the main theme. If you're going to use them melodically, remember to bring them up in the mix at the appropriate times (and bring other instruments down if necessary). Upon listening to your song a fifth time, I noticed some melodic content that had been buried in the mix.
Throughout, I'm noticing the melodies at some points do feel rehashed. I realize this is a convention of trap music, since the primary focus of trap is not the melody but its ability to carry lyrical content consistently.
Also, at your choruses, I would have appreciated a crash or something at the first measure. Having your riser cut off right there with no fizzy overhang -- afterglow of some kind, almost makes it feel like a non-sequitur.
Other than that, good work. I enjoyed the piece. My top recommendation would be to study mixing and mastering from here on out. You've got the basics of songwriting down pat. Now you just need the secret sauce. :)
Anything else I could have mentioned has already been covered in TL's review. Lemme know if you've got any questions or comments.