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Reviews for "Darkness and Light"

I like the pensive mood at the beginning. Jordi's vocals at :21 are great, although I feel as though there could've been a stronger transition there than the stop-start effort at :20. The lyrics themselves are also pretty powerful. The rhyme scheme seemed a bit forced at first, though, so I like when you started to take liberties with it at the "one day" stanza. Nice melodic content through the 2-minute mark or so, and then the theme at 2:20 is really fun. The production quality is really strong here. I liked the arpeggiated transition into 3:27, drawn out though it was. I love how the vocals have a really low register towards the end. Makes them seem foreboding, even while the content of the lyrics seem encouraging/motivational. Cool piece, guys! Good luck in the ADM. ^_^

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thanks for reviewing!

I personally like the transition at 0:20. I think one shouldn't be afraid to have a short break in the music, or even silence, when going into a new section. Similar transitions are also used throughout the piece (such as at 1:00), as it's part of the composition's continuity.

I also tend to like when songs have something that binds the rhythm, such as through rhymes (or "near" rhymes). Especially in this piece, the melody is pretty straightforward in the verses, so another element that adds to the rhythm makes the verses a bit more interesting. I spent a long time contemplating where I should use the rhymes, and how I could convey the message of the piece through the lyrics.

Since the rhythm is simple in the first half of the piece, I felt like 2:20 was necessary in order to give the piece some variety and power. I'm glad you liked that part, along with the "one day" segment.

The production was surprisingly difficult for this piece. I'm happy with the result, but I'm not as good at cleaning up and mixing Jordi's voice as he himself is :D
It's nice to hear that you think I did a decent job with it!

I actually can't sing this piece myself, since my voice doesn't go low enough to be able to sing the part at the end. I'm really impressed with Jordi's performance, and I wanted to show off his singing in a lower register, since it still retains its emotional tone. He's such a versatile singer o.O

Thank you for the review, and for the good wishes! Good luck with judging and running the NGUAC! It's exciting to follow the progression!

You don't write lyrics often so I'm really impressed by how good they are! They evoked strong emotions in me, which you know doesn't happen very often with music. Much of composition is phenomenal, and there are so many delightful chords in there. I think I caught a few major chord anomalies, which were really sweet. I like the piano break in the middle, and it adds some welcomed variation.

I love these lyrics, and I feel like I can relate to it a lot. The line corresponding to the song title is the most ambiguous, but I found an interpretation that makes sense to me.

I feel like the way the song was produced makes it sound much colder that what you might have untended. The piano itself sounds cold probably both because of both the timbre and the dynamic range, and it sounds more upfront than usual. The vocals are also pretty upfront and seem to be compressed a bit. Overall, I feel that there's a bit too much compression and it slightly hinders the conveyance of emotion. I think the composition itself is very high in emotion, but the aforementioned factors make it difficult for the emotional appeal to be fully realized. Near the end you increased the reverb and that was really nice! I wish the entire piece sounded more like that.

I think this track would sound even more awesome with a more dreamy atmosphere. This is a fairly pensive piece, and I think that having a lot of reverb would reflect the vastness of consciousness.

The vocals sound a little flat to me, but I think I perceive it that way due to the great contrast in dryness with the piano.

I actually kinda agree with TL about the transition at :20, but there's one important thing he didn't mention: the contrast in volume can be startling when one listens to the first time. As I said earlier, this piece sounds a bit over-compressed, so perhaps that transition sounded fine beforehand and you overlooked it post-compression.

This is an amazing track, and I'm glad you tried something new!

Good luck in the competition!

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

I'm trying to write lyrics more and more often, although I still don't do it enough. I often end up thinking of all the details for waaay too long. I'm glad the lyrics spoke to you. I certainly had a few people in mind when writing them, even though they're mainly trying to convey a mindset/perspective of sorts. As for the chords, I try to do something a bit different as often as I can, while I still retain my style.

The song's title has a lot of meaning to me. I'll leave the interpretation to the listeners though.

I'm not sure what you mean with "colder" per se, but I admit it wasn't an easy song to produce. I'm pretty happy with the sound though. It's a very dynamic piano piece, with vocals in the mix. Even so, I think the volume levels are fine, and the arrangement is noticable in every part, including the busiest ones (which is surprisingly difficult when there's just a piano).

There certainly is some compression in the piece, though I'm not sure taking that away would affect the things you talk about. I'd say the piece sounds weaker and less focused with no compression on it. Maybe I have to listen with some different headphones though, as I might hear the piece differently.
I feel like composition is much more important when it comes to conveying emotions than the production. As for the increased reverb at the end, it wouldn't work for the entire piece; it's cumulative, so if it was used somewhere else than in the ending, everything would clutter up. I did have more reverb on the piece initially, but it started sounding muddy imo :)

When you say the vocals sound flat, do you mean as in they're out of tune?

I still disagree about 0:20. To begin with, compression doesn't generally increase the difference in volume, but it can decrease it, so removing it would likely make the difference starker. I also don't feel like the vocals are too loud, but that might be a matter of preference.
I don't think surprising elements in music is a bad thing, but I don't know what TL and you are hearing, possibly since I've heard the piece too many times, meaning I can't hear it "for the first time".

Thanks for taking the time to write such an extensive review, and good luck to you as well! It'll be fun to see what ends up happening in this round :D!

This is fantastic work as always! You and Jordi really make magic together. Such a good team ^^

Only thing I can nitpick is that the piano feels like it could be wider in the mix and while Jordi's vocals are beautiful and perfect, I feel like some more processing or reverb could help it blend with the piano (sounds compact and dry, like a live performance). Just minor tweaks that are my opinion. This is still awesome <3

p.s. for those climactic moments, raising the piano gain a tad would have added some more intensity as well. Idk. Keep it up :3

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thank you!
It's always fun to work with Jordi, and we plan on doing much more together in the future :)

Maybe adding more reverb to the piano could make it sound wider, but the entire balance would probably need to be changed around since adding more reverb to the track made it muddier when I tried. I have other reverbs I could try to work with if I go back to the piece later :)

The piano could be raised a bit in velocity in the climactic parts if the vocals were made weaker. I like the current balance, but I'm sure it'd sound good with a different emphasis too!

Thanks for listening and for reviewing :3


LucidShadowDreamer responds:

Thanks :)

This is an Official NGADM '18 Round 2 Review

Beginning Comments: Congratulations on making it to round 2

Production / Mixing: All I can hear is the elven singer. You're piano playing has mystical abilities too, don't hide them too much like that. The piano would have benefited by some reverb or something to not sound so dry though.

Composition / Structure: Yeah the darkness and light line is pretty neat. The contrast is nice in terms of the subject of the lyrics and the style you have to compliment it. The subject being dark and ominous is reflected in the music behind it, but there's still a feeling of hope The lyric writing is actually pretty cool, I would like to hear more from you like this. It's so poetic, and it's not immature either.

Sound Design: The piano sounds a little tinny. For this type of contest being this far into it, I personally would have liked to have heard something a little different or more refined, but I'm assuming it's what you had to work with since this sounds like a live recording.

Ending Comments: Wow that man can sing low. Fantastic writing from you that I enjoyed listening too. The piano quality I wish was better but that doesn't impede my enjoyment.


Production - 1.75

Composition - 2

Structure - 2

Sound Design - 1.75

Replay - 2

Total - 9.5

*Disclaimer - I have headphones that cancel out the magical properties of elven singing to help make sure you don't get an advantage through hypnosis.

P.S. I will gladly lend my voice to any of your songs. I've wanted to sing a lot more vocals but I suck at lyrics.

LucidShadowDreamer responds:

This is an Official NGADM '18 Round 2 Response ;)

Thanks for the congrats!

Yeah, I've had the opportunity to listen to the track on a few different kinds of speakers since I made it, so I've been able to tell that the vocals are a bit louder than they'd need to be, especially at a few parts. Now that the judging is over, I can rework the mix a bit when I get the time :3
The piano has plenty of reverb, but the vocals probably have more, which might make the balance sound a bit out of place?

I'm glad to see you liked my lyrics well enough! I actually have one unreleased song (not recorded) that I think is even better, both lyric- and structurewise. I've been trying to write more lyrics lately, and think of how to arrange around singing. It's quite fun! Now if only I could learn to sing half as well as Jordi too...

The piano isn't a live recording in the sense that I used a microphone, but it is recorded in one go on my electronic piano, after which I pasted the MIDI on a track with a piano VST (and ofc, edited the dynamics/velocities to fit the piano in question). I have my sights on a better piano VST that I want to buy at some point during the year :D
The piano VST I want requires 200GB of free disc space though, so I'll have to buy an external SSD first xD

Jordi can sing low indeed! I've known this for some time, so I intentionally wrote the last verse in a low octave, so the track could highlight that. It also sounds very emotional and pure like that, imo. Personally, since the range of the voice in this track is so wide I can't even properly sing it myself :3

Thank you for the review! I don't write too many song with lyrics, but if I do write something fitting for a different voice than Jordi's and mine, I'll let you know!