Official AIM2018 Review!
This is my second time attempting to write this -- got nuked by Windows update -- but man, this track really is a journey!
First thing I want to get out of the way, I'm not hearing the pacing issues TL is evidently hearing. On the contrary, I hear solid writing for the most part, variation of themes, great modulation on your leads, and flowing melody. However, I also hear is a little rockiness in the mix.
Particularly, that opening saw lead is pretty flat, even for a nostalgic 90's house/techno sound. The naked saw sections throughout are my least favorite part of the piece.
The bass also seems panned slightly to the left. This may be a compression issue if other elements of the track are panned to the right. Bass could also use a bit more presence.
The track overall is a bit sibilant, hi-hats being a particular offender. They seem to sit just on top of the track, and I can't tell if there's too much reverb or they were processed before being mixed in.
I would also probably ditch those ride samples in favor of a swooshy reversed cymbal or something in that vein -- or at least had some subtler samples for repeat hits. However, your FX are otherwise handled well, and this could just be my personal dislike of canned rides. You may have had a little more luck chopping and sampling jazz drum breaks. Definitely could have used a true crash every now and then.
2:23 was a bit naked for my tastes. Break was a bit jarring from the usual solid presentation.
I will say I would have liked to hear harmonies in the lead synth parsed out to a different instrument. That synth is so in your face, two notes at the same time, in the same octave, is just a little hot. A softer lead panned a bit alongside that would have been super. You flirted with the idea earlier in the piece with what sounded like a parallel motion (+7 semitone) double track at 1:17, which worked pretty nicely with that organ-y pike on one hand and a fantasia-esque sound on the left. Organ was about .5 dB too loud for my taste, but it worked.
That about rounds up my critique. The track almost has too many melodic elements for me to analyze effectively, especially since my previous thoughts have gone poof, so let me just stop and say that I am super impressed with your presentation this year. You've come a really long way since I first heard you in NGADM, learned a lot, and really brought the whoop-ass. Keep up the good work!