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I like the quirky percussion at the beginning, but the texture stays pretty minimal for a while thereafter. The mix is also pretty quiet, and you switch pretty suddenly between moods/textures a lot here. The plucky synth at :37 quickly fades to the smooth pads at :55, and there’s a completely different riff on the original synth at 1:14. That riff at 1:14 is also a bit hard-to-follow melodically, as there are a lot of jumps to far-off pitches. The atmospheric section at the end flows a lot better than the first half, although overall the piece still doesn’t feel very cohesive. I really enjoyed the sound design and a lot of the isolated riffs here, and the mix holds up well despite being very quiet, but the choppy arrangement and bizarre harmonic progressions (like at 1:14) are big turn-offs for me here. Working on some of the transitions here and integrating the different instruments as part of a coherent harmonic layer would help you earn a higher score from me. Right now, it’s just a little hard to follow the progression here, and then during the last part of the piece (when I can follow the progression decently well), the piece doesn’t feel very dynamic. Until then, I enjoyed the mixing, fun sound design, atmosphere, and mood of the piece. Keep at it, IndustryStandard! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.5/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.25/2
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?)
.25/1
Composite score
6.75/10

IndustryStandard responds:

A fair interpretation. I wasn't super happy with how this one came out to be honest, but the due date was up and this was the best I had. I was hoping to stumble on a bit of inspiration to build off of, so I kept playing with different ideas hoping one of them would grow into something but they never really did. Oh well, a great band once said: "They can't all be zingers"

I like the gradual fade-in at the beginning and the synth brass. The melodies are really nice, although the filtering (like at :31) makes them sound a bit unnatural. I also think the harmonic details were a tad ambitious here sometimes, like at around :35 - the piano and brass are getting in each other’s way a bit. The tempo automation at 1:30 was a great idea - even though you’ve overused that main melody a bit by then, it made the texture feel refreshed. The added harmonies at 2:05 were a nice touch, and I really like the mellow outro. The mix is well-balanced and full throughout, although the compression is a tad overdone for my tastes. I usually like more variation on the melodies when it’s repeated this many times, but you found plenty of other parameters for creating variety in this piece, including a really creative tempo change that gave this track a second wind. Solid work, Indexation! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.75/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.5/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
9/10

IndexatioN responds:

Oh wow, thanks for the feedback

Haha, I can totally see how this is stylistically a metal track through and through, even though the instruments are all synths. That bass is especially nice, and comes through really well in the mix. It might’ve been nice to add a bit more reverb onto the lead, just because it’s hard to mimic the full-sounding body of an electric guitar with a dry synth. The atmosphere at 1:23 helps that cause a bit, though. Sometimes, the arrangement of this piece is a bit choppy, like when you switch out the lead and drum pattern suddenly at 1:37 without much forewarning. I also think the composition could’ve sounded a bit more dynamic here - the energy and volume levels are pretty constant, and the structure feels formulaic sometimes. It felt like you needed something here to break the tension in the piece - a solo midway through, for example - that never really came. Otherwise, the piece sounds pretty anticlimactic and stale after a while. The production quality, sound design, and rhythmic content are all really good, though. It’s just the composition that feels a bit too robotic and square. Anyway, keep at it, Immitis! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.5/1.5
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
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.25/1
Composite score
7/10

Immitis responds:

Thank you!

For instruments I used VST guitar and bass in addition to a synth playing the same parts, glad you like the sound. I was not going for an electric guitar sound on the lead, you said it, it's not really possible to replicate with only synthesizers.

As for the structure, I tried some things like putting an interlude around the middle of the track to break the tension, but I felt like it only detracted from the overall mood and I would have to change the rest of the composition too much. If not the time limit I could probably have come back to the song later with a fresh mind and change things up, but that's not the point of the contest.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Really creative intro, and the sound design is really engaging and fun between the gritty synth bass and sitar. The texture stays pretty thin for most of the first minute, but the sense of apprehension is cool, and I’m enjoying the rhythmic content. The part at 1:01 felt a bit anticlimactic, and I’m not sure the cheesy plucked synth melody really fit well with the ominous vibe of the minute before that. I also feel like, during the post-chorus at 1:15 or so, the gritty bass and melodies trip over each other a bit. The piano and organ at the breakdown worked well, and I enjoyed the dark turn in the progression at 2:06. The crunchy rhythmic outro was also really unique. Overall, the composition was a tad too experimental for me here - I think part of the problem is that you went experimental on a number of different parameters - sound design, harmony, rhythm, progression - so it got a little hard-to-follow after a while. I also think the mix, while clean, feels a tad too thin and constrained. Maybe part of it is that there isn’t a ton of treble in the frequency range, which makes it feel off-balance at times. Overall, there are a lot of really cool ideas in here, but the choppy arrangement and experimental texture don’t quite come together for me. I can tell you’re a really talented composer, though - the melodies themselves are enjoyable, the mix is really sharp and distinct, and the sound design has some really cool samples in it that fit the piece well. Keep at it, GearWax! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.75/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.25/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
1/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.25/1
Composite score
6.75/10

Iosun responds:

had a hard time working with the drop in general, nothing i did seemed to sound mono enough and the synth was a bit of a last minute change (as in i literally did it on the last possible day i could have sumitted)

the experimental sound is just kind of how I compose in general, it wasn't something intentional for this, I just kind of put ideas in based on whatever would sound good next most of the time which leads to the common review complaint that it feels choppy (as you pretty directly said lol)

thanks for review, even if it didnt make it. this is definitely on the table for a remaster or at the very least more attention put into it, I still think the ideas have more potential than i used them for

I like the piano and snaps at the beginning. The chord progression is a bit generic, although the mix is really well-balanced and full. The hi-hats and shakers help add some pizzazz to the top of the frequency range. The build-up into 1:07 is enjoyable, although I would’ve liked to see some more dynamic melodic content during the refrain. That said, the vocals later on help scratch that itch, and I appreciate the variations at the second refrain at 2:23. Overall, my main complaint here is probably the lack of originality in the harmonic structure, arrangement, and sound design. I feel like I’ve heard a million songs like this before, right down to the same chord progression and basic structure. That said, you won me over here with the upbeat mood, strong production quality, and rhythmic content. Keep at it, Fumijena! :)

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
1.5/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.25/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
8.25/10

Fumijena responds:

thank you very much for your feedback <3 i appreciate it

I like the relaxed atmosphere at the beginning and the echo-y drums. The bass line is pretty groovy, and the quirky guitar instrument at :55 helps fill out the texture. The vocal samples are a nice touch, too. The frequency range is pretty bottom-heavy, and the composition could’ve been a bit more fleshed out here, although you nailed the mixing and sound design. My biggest complaint is definitely with the composition - despite the killer atmosphere and solid production quality, the piece feels under-developed structurally, and the relatively slow pacing makes 2 minutes feel like not enough to get a sense of “storytelling” or progression from the piece. Still, you get full credit for instrumentation and mixing and mastering from me. Keep at it, Dryest! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.5/1.5
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?)
.25/1
Composite score
7.5/10

I love the quirky synths at the beginning and the acoustic-sounding drums. The piece is a bit slow to progress after a while, and is pretty minimal in places (:57 - 1:11, for example). At 1:11, the melody seems really far back in the mix, which seemed like a bit of an odd choice since not much else is going on there besides the rhythm section. After that, the piece gets pretty repetitive. There are some added layers that play with the main melody, but they’re not really adding any new harmonies. I liked the variations on the breakdown melody at 2:23, and I also enjoyed the production quality here - the mix sounds super crisp and clean. Adding some more variation to the main melody and bringing out the dynamic elements of the breakdown sections a bit more here would really help take this piece to the next level. In the meantime, I applaud the mastering work, sound design, and progression here. Keep at it, Desmae! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
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
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.25/1
Composite score
7.5/10

I like the edgy guitar riffs and crisp percussion at the beginning. The more melodic content at :43 is really refreshing, and the frantic riffs at around 2:15 add some nice variety to the texture as well. The arpeggios at 3:20 also work well. I also appreciate how well-varied the drums are. In fact, my only complaint with the composition is probably that I would’ve liked to see a bit more melodic content later in the piece. After the bridge at 2:20 or so, the texture was mostly dominated by bass riffs. It felt like you were leading up to a final “emotional height” at around 3:30, but that section ends up being a bit anticlimatic. Mixing-wise, the panning is a bit heavy for my tastes at times, but all the instruments sound really clean and clear, and the drums in particular are super crisp and punchy. The sound design is solid, and you did a great job of selling the energy and mood of the piece too. Overall, strong work here, Dave! Keep it up. ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
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
9.25/10

Daveisgr81 responds:

Thanks so much for the positive review - I really appreciate the time you took to do it :)

Good to see you still running this comp too :D

I like the somber tone at the beginning and the sound design. The vocals are nice, but a bit dry - could use more reverb and other mixing effects to make them pop a bit more. I also think the recording quality starts going south at :26 or so - maybe you sung into the mic a bit too loud? There’s some sort of pop or distortion on most of the vocal lines beginning with “where” in the piece. The piano solo at 1:26 was a great idea, but the riff there could’ve been a tad more melodic/dynamic. The instrumental content starts getting a bit repetitive later on, but the extra piano harmonies at 2:13 and call-and-response between the “wheres” and “I just want to be,” etc. help keep things fresh. The fade-out ending was a tad lazy, but overall the progression here is strong. In sum, the composition is solid here, and I’m enjoying the sound design and arrangement as well. Some of the production details could’ve used a bit more time, but overall I enjoyed the piece a lot. Keep at it, DarthWeather! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
Instrumentation and sound design
1/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
8/10

I like the smooth pads at the beginning and the relaxed mood. The rhythm feels a bit square, but the sound design is engaging and the mix is full and loud. Some of the sound design choices are a bit cheesy, like the lead synth and strings. The balance in the texture also could use a little help at times - the strings feel pretty far back in the mix at times, despite playing some prominent melodic content at several points. You clearly have a good sense of harmony and progression, though, and the more hip hop-inspired beat at 1:45 is a great touch, and pairs well with the funky bass there too. The melodies during the second refrain seem copy-pasted from the first, but there’s so much variety in the texture along other parameters (sound design, rhythmically, etc.), that I’m fully engaged until the end. The jazzy chord at the end is just the cherry on top. Overall, this is really solid work, Dag0! My main concern is probably the mix - some elements of it could come through a lot clearer, especially the strings, and at times it’s on the verge of being overwhelmed by all the different elements of the texture. Still, sound design, melodies, and progression are all on point here. Keep it up! ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.25/2
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?)
1/1
Composite score
8.5/10

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

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