--NGUAC ‘20 Judge Review--
Sorry this review took so long! So, aside from the fact that the “lyrics” for this song really made me laugh, I think the thing I enjoyed most about this track was just how relaxing and meditative it was. It was definitely a great reprieve from a lot of the high-intensity EDM tracks out there in the field, and even though you mentioned that this was an experimental song, I think you really nailed a particular vibe, which can be very hard to do!
You definitely have some good compositional skill, which showed at many points throughout the track. The intro buildup works well, and once the drums hit, you establish the main motif of the song pretty quickly (and it definitely is a catchy one!) In fact, on the whole, the composition is rather solid, but there was one thing that caught me really off-guard. In places like 0:39 (and many others throughout the song), the rising chords bring with them the same melodic line, transposed to fit the new chord instead of adapting a melody in the original key for the new chords. This makes it sound like you’re constantly modulating the track, instead of just going through chord changes. Key modulation can be a powerful tool, but too much of it can make the listener feel like they’re constantly resetting their tonal baseline, leading to a bit of a tiring listen. I don’t feel like the chords themselves are bad—one thing you could do to fix this issue is to try rewriting the melody so that it develops more in its original key instead of just repeating itself while constantly transposing. Speaking of development, I did think that the melody itself was lacking in development (in that it stayed the same throughout the song and didn’t really take the listener anywhere?), but that might be more of a structural issue, which I’ll touch on later in the reivew.
To address your production, you had some interesting choices throughout the song! You had an interesting groove with that hi-hat getting gradually louder and quieter, and it sounds like you had a good grasp on which sounds to include in the track to make sure the full frequency spectrum was covered without overcrowding anything in particular. To improve, I would suggest being more picky about which samples you use! The percussion samples you used throughout the track were pretty muted—to the point where the kick was often masked by the other instruments and the snare was noticeably missing a lot of its high end. I understand that the genre constraint of lo-fi music is that the drums aren’t always super crisply-mixed, but when contrasting those sounds to the distinct hi-hat (which is actually a pretty decent sample), it creates a bit of a mismatch that makes the song somewhat confusing. I also like that you kept the inhale/exhale sample going throughout the song, but sadly, it’s not a particularly high-quality sample, nor did I find it pleasant to listen to; it almost made me more anxious to hear the filtered sound of someone constantly breathing near me. It was a cool idea in concept, but in execution, I’d suggest either finding a less invasive sample or including it only in crucial parts of the song. There were some other nitpicks I could make about the production (such as the too-shrill high synth at 1:30 or the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much panning here), but that mention of crucial parts of the song is a pretty good transition into my thoughts on your structure! Which are...
Unfortunately, I felt that the weakest aspect of the song was its structure. It began well, with the first minute featuring a lot of good musical development, but then it just… kept repeating itself without developing much. Again, I understand you’re working in a genre with rather repetitive conventions, but my biggest issue with the lack of development is the lack of textural variety, so that listening to such a long song gives the listener an almost trancelike experience instead of an actively engaged one. I also thought that the drumless bit at the end also went on for too long, since it sounds to me like it’s acting as a cooldown section after the long main section of the song, and doesn’t have enough complexity to warrant being as drawn-out as it is. Luckily, structure is the easiest of these things to fix! All you have to do is do what you did in the first minute throughout the whole song—if there’s an aspect of the song that’s stayed the same for too long, change it up! The more you experiment with adding or taking away different sections in a song, the more of a deep understanding of how structure works you can get, and it’s a fun learning process too.
In the end, I enjoyed listening to your track, but there are a number of areas of improvement here, and sadly, the competition in your bracket was very fierce. Still, it was refreshing to hear your take on a genre that isn’t too well-represented on Newgrounds, and I hope you keep working on music because I can tell that you have a great sense of style. Good luck on future productions, and thanks for taking part!
Composition - 23/30
Production - 19/30
Structure - 6/10
GSM - 22/30
Overall - 70/100, normalized to 5.7/10