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2,015 w/ Responses

I like the crisp beats at the beginning and the punchy synths. Your mixing and mastering skills have definitely improved in the last few years. I like the slide-y melody at 1:04 and the funky sound design. The track feels very dynamic, but also solidly rooted in some core melodic patterns that give it a strong sense of cohesion. The synth that kinda sounds like a flute in the background at 2:50 is a really nice touch, too. Later on in the piece, there are several melodies playing at once, but it feels like I can still separate them out from each other because of the strong production quality and distinct instrumentation. This is my favorite track of yours in a while! Keep it up, WF. ^_^

Ooohh, I've missed your dark ambient tracks. The pulsing texture towards the beginning sets the scene nicely, and the airy percussion that pops in at around :35 is super nice for a more rhythmic appeal. The pacing remains a bit slow until the second half, and I thought the transition at 1:53 could've been a tad more creative. That said, the distorted percussion at 1:57 is really neat, and the more intricate rhythmic elements during the second half help keep me engaged. The composition could've used a tad more ebb-and-flow at times, but the atmosphere, rhythmic components, and production are all on point here. Keep it up, WF! ^^

I too found these article titles unnerving when I first heard you talk about them. But I think you're missing the forest for the trees here.

The central argument of the Slate article is that the media's obsession with "fact-checking" isn't going to change anyone's beliefs. Appealing to shared values, however, is more likely to do so. Zimmerman gives the example of someone who believes that "all terrorists are Muslim." Pointing out the many examples of terrorism conducted by people of other religions isn't that helpful if the person's fear of Muslims runs deeper than that. But having a conversation about the deeper issues at heart (i.e., subjective things like what makes a person feel safe, etc.) is more likely to leave the anti-Muslim person with a more open and nuanced perspective, and also help them find common ground with others who they may otherwise disagree with. And btw, Zimmerman's article is categorized as "Science" because there's credible academic research showing that this "feelings-based" method of persuasion works: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282668982_From_Gulf_to_Bridge_When_Do_Moral_Arguments_Facilitate_Political_Influence

The point is that judging the articles by their titles alone isn't really helpful. I don't appreciate Slate's use of overly-provocative clickbait as a headline either, but these articles are worthy of more thoughtful discussion than just "see how ridiculous the MSM is being".

Nevertheless, your poem was amusing.

SilverFoxJams responds:

Thanks for your honest feedback.

You certainly doubled down on the eerie mood and energetic elements here compared to the original. The intro works well for setting up the apprehensive tone of the piece, although you may have gone a tad overboard with the chopped-up vocals, and the shift in the instrumentation at :44 could've been a bit smoother. The drums definitely sound louder, but I also think they're distorting the rest of the texture a bit now. In a piece like this with a lot of attack on the guitars, I'm not sure you need a kick this heavy/prominent. The vocals sound like they're ducking in and out of the mix sometimes, though, which is probably my main concern. I like the change-of-pace in the instrumental track at 2:41 - adds a touch of variety towards the end. I'm honestly not sure this edit would've changed my score enough to justify the 5% "late tax," though. Maybe that's just me confirming my own bias against encouraging people to take the tax, but that's my opinion. :) Still, listening to this piece for a third and fourth time only reassures me that the flow in the rap is top-notch and the sound design is stellar here. It's a really captivating piece - the challenge remains how to have each of the competing elements (guitar, vocals, drums) sit well in the mix. But hey, if you're doing any more rap/metal hybrids, send me a PM! This is stuff I don't see a lot of on Newgrounds, so it's refreshing. Until then, cheers! ^_^

ProjectSoary responds:

Thank you! That's all I wanted to know. That 5% is pretty brutal. Thanks again for going the extra mile and writing this 2nd review! Much appreciated. See you in NGUAC 2022!

I like the low-register drone at the beginning and the crisp strings at :10. The percussion could’ve popped in the mix a bit more - it might be worth it to scale back the reverb a tad but also add some more compression, or at least give the percussion some more space in the upper-mid register. The climax at 1:01 had some nice syncopations to it, but at this point the string riff at :10 seems a bit overplayed, and sounds a bit more up-front in the mix than it should be. The emotional piano melody at the breakdown was a nice element of structural contrast, and the melodies towards the end really help hit the piece home. I would’ve liked to see you switch up the instrumentation on that string riff at :10, but harmonically and dynamics-wise, this piece has a good deal of variety. The mixing/mastering is probably the most obvious low-hanging fruit for improvement - the percussion just sounds very indistinct at the climactic parts, and the reverb is a bit overdone at times. I think the string riff sits better in the mix during the melodies at 2:20, though. Meanwhile, you nailed the melodies, emotional appeal, sound design, and atmosphere. Keep at it, Zimnior12, and thanks for coming out to the NGUAC this year! ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
1/1
Composite score
9/10

Right off the bat, I’m liking the energy and the rhythmic elements of the vocals. The production quality is great, although the lyrics are a bit cheesy. The pitch-shifted vocals at :37 work really well, but that section also felt a tad over-compressed. By 1:22, the vocals seem a bit repetitive, but the synth melodies at the second drop at 1:50ish are really refreshing. The arrangement and some of the chord progressions are a little generic, but I also like the change-of-pace to the beat at 2:50. Overall, you nailed the mixing, sound design, atmosphere, melodies, and arrangement. A little more variety and originality would’ve been ideal, but this is a strong effort. Thanks for coming out to the NGUAC this year, Veryfakeguest! It’s been a blast. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.75/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
1/1
Composite score
8.5/10

I like the twittering synth at the beginning and the rich atmosphere. The sound design is great, perhaps with the exception of the vocaloid. It sounds pretty realistic for a vocoder output, but admittedly that’s a pretty low bar. The production is strong, and I especially like the rhythmic “t’s” toward the end starting at around 1:45. It’s a great subtle way of using the vocoder that makes it impossible to tell it’s a vocoder. The lyrics themselves are also really good, and the theremin melodies at :45 hit the spot too. The composition could have a little more ebb-and-flow over time - right now the energy level is pretty constant, although the piece flows smoothly and seems really cohesive, but also well-varied harmonically. Overall, I’m really enjoying the bright mood, mixing, and rhythmic elements here. The vocaloid strikes me as low-hanging fruit for improvement, but I like the other vocal samples you included here at around 1:30. Thanks for coming out to the NGUAC this year, Vermeen! It’s been a blast. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.75/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
9/10

vermeen responds:

It's been quite the ride! Yeah, I defs agree with the voice, didn't mold it out enough and the arrangement was done in one go (I made it on the same day the song got published lmao)! This song went through so many drafts like it was making me lose my mind but I'm glad I still finished it and didn't tap out. I've learned so much through participating. Thank you so much for your invaluable words and for setting up the contest!

I like the tranquil mood at the beginning. The instruments don’t sound entirely authentic, but the phrasing and tasteful use of dissonance (like at :57) are appealing here. The emotional appeal of the piano at 1:32 is really nice, although the beat that starts fading in at 1:43 or so seems a little too regular and energetic for a piece like this. The build-up into 2:41 was well-done, but the section at 2:41 itself felt a little bland and chordal. Some stronger melodic content at some point would’ve really helped tie this piece together. The meandering mallet riff at 3:24 seems a bit square and aimless to quite serve the “strong melodic content” purpose here. That said, I really like the rich, well-balanced texture and progression here. Some of the compositional details could use a bit more fleshing out imo, but the production, arrangement, and atmosphere are all very well-crafted here. Keep at it, Undervania, and thanks for coming out to this year’s NGUAC! ^_^ It’s been a blast.

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.5/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.75/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
7.75/10

UndervaniaMusic responds:

Glad you liked it! Thanks a lot for the criticism:)

I like the heavy guitars at the beginning and the energy. The throaty vocals are great, but sometimes their delivery is a tad awkward - “behind...your eyes” at :34, for example. The lyrics themselves are good, though. The mix holds up incredibly well here despite the busy texture, and I’m enjoying the more melodic flair to the guitar riffs at 1:12. After a time, the structure of the piece feels a tad cyclical and formulaic, and I was waiting for a bit more variety in the energy level and tone of the piece to help keep me engaged. The section at 2:38 helps scratch that itch a bit, but the section itself is pretty bland and short-lived. The extra low-register vocal layers at 3:25 really give an extra edge to the end of the piece, and the guitar solo at 3:48 seems to have an added sense of urgency to it that adds a sense of arrival towards the end. Still, the end felt a tad abrupt somehow. I think it’s hard to convey much in the way of phrasing when the intensity and instrumentation of the piece is so uniform throughout. That said, the ominous, foreboding tone and dense rhythmic content of the piece are really engrossing here, and I continue to be impressed with the production quality throughout. Strong work, TSRBand! Thanks for coming out to the NGUAC this year. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.75/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
8.25/10

TSRBand responds:

Thanks so much for hosting the comp and the detailed review! I'm glad you liked it :)

I like the nature sound effects at the beginning and beeping/heavy breathing. That said, the transition at :37 was a little abrupt, and didn’t end up crafting the sound design at the beginning into a very coherent direction. The tone of the piece after around the 1-minute mark is much brighter and even adventuresome-sounding. The pacing is a bit slow, but I’m enjoying the more prominent vocals at 1:45 and the gradual climax into 2:09. The texture is pretty minimal at 2:10, but the use of compression and variety across phrases helps keep things interesting. The production quality and sound design are both really strong here, although I wonder if the arrangement could be a bit more cohesive - there are a couple of sudden transitions, such as at 3:50, 4:16, and 5:32 - and the instrumentation and mood change so frequently that it’s hard to keep tabs on the overarching sense of direction here. A lot of the melodic motifs and rhythmic elements are really enjoyable - I especially like the cutesy vocals at around 4:30. The piece didn’t quite come together by the end for me, though. The arrangement is a tad choppy at times, and I didn’t quite get a strong sense of narrative arc or development from the piece. It might help if you had consolidated some of your ideas a bit more, as I feel like the complicated orchestration pattern and phrase structure here are a bit disorienting sometimes. That said, the sound design is pretty unique, and the texture feels well-balanced and full for much of the piece. The rhythmic content, atmosphere, and mixing were also strengths. Overall, solid work here, TheVodouQueen, and thanks for coming out to the NGUAC this year! ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.5/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
8.25/10

Hi. I'm Andrew. Audio portal junkie since 2010, supporter since January 2017. I always want to improve what I do! I make music, run the NGUAC, and am active in the writing forum. I love this site, and I want to make it the best I can. :) Formerly TheDoor6

Andrew Mikula @TaintedLogic

24, Male

Policy Researcher

Bates College

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Joined on 8/16/12

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