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I like the pensive mood at the beginning and the heroic brass melody at :15. Sometimes I feel like the pattern of emphasis in the string arpeggios doesn’t quite line up with the main melodies, giving the piece an odd rhythm. This is resolved by :51, just in time for the emotional piano line there. The minor 6th at 1:04 really caught my attention, and I appreciate the major variation on it at 1:17. That’s a great way of giving the piece a sense of narrative progression. That said, I think the pacing of it is a little fast in this case, especially since it’s a relatively sudden transition at 1:15. You have a lot of stop-start transitions in this piece, in fact, and it’s a little jarring sometimes since the mood of the piece often changes after those transitions. The one at 1:54 is especially disorienting IMO. Maybe that was the effect you were going for, but I think it would be helpful to the listener to flesh out each mood/motif/section a tad more before switching between them so freely. Otherwise, the piece comes across as having a choppy arrangement, despite your adept use of crashes and percussion to foreshadow transitory moments. Meanwhile, my favorite element of the piece is probably the production - everything is super crisp and well-balanced in the mix. Your sound design is also really good - the instruments sound super authentic, and you made some wise choices about which instruments were playing which melodies (brass at the beginning, strings later on, etc.). Overall, this is a really enjoyable piece. I’d just caution you to think more carefully about how you’re using transitions between moods in the piece. In the meantime, keep at it, Zimnior12! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.75/1.5
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
8.25/10

I like the groovy bass riff at the beginning and the crisp drums. The pads at :12 are pretty quirky and fun, but also might take up a tad too much space in the mix relative to the rhythm section. Overall, the sound design here is really fun, and I’m digging the cutesy melodies starting at :38. That said, the texture is pretty minimal throughout, and the climactic section at 1:17 could’ve used a smoother and/or more gradual transition. The arrangement of the piece feels a bit formulaic and rushed, although the production quality holds up well and the sound design is probably my favorite element of the piece. A little more effort on structuring and flow could go a long way towards making this an 8-range track for me. Until then, nice job with the ghostly melodies, instrumentation, and mixing. :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.75/1.5
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
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.5/1
Composite score
7.25/10

I like the catchy synth riffs at the beginning. The instruments themselves are a bit cheesy, and also sound a bit overly contained in the mix at times. The drop at 1:10 was a little minimal and repetitive, and the screechy synth that plays every beat at 1:24 was a bit much. Otherwise, that sound design in this piece is pretty unique, although in places the composition falls flat. The main chord progression is pretty cliche, and the piece is lacking melodic content throughout. The production quality is pretty well-balanced and clean, but could also use a few more effects to fill out the texture. Overall, this is a catchy and fun piece that could use a bit more harmonic depth and creativity in some of the compositional elements (I’m especially thinking of the long sections that have 3-note bass lines and a series of effects, but little else going on - see 3:12-3:35). Not to be overly harsh, though. It is going to be stuck in my head for a while. Keep at it, Walpang! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.5/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
7/10

I like the airy guitar at the beginning and the cutesy synth arpeggios that fade in a few seconds later. The vocals are really smooth and light, although they could be a bit more up-front in the mix, especially during the chorus at :41. By comparison, the drums and synths are a bit too loud. Overall, the mix is quite loud and clean, if a tad over-compressed. The breakdown at 1:08 was a bit bland, but I like the ornaments on the piano melodies at 1:25. I also feel like the piece never quite gets back to the emotional height as the first chorus, which makes the narrative appeal of the piece fall flat a bit. At the very least, adding some more conspicuous chopped up vocals or something at 1:49 would’ve helped keep things engaging later on. That said, you nailed the sound design, atmosphere, and composition here. My main complaints are with the off-balance mix and the lack of originality in the arrangement and progression. But again, you made up for that with the cool instrumentation, rhythmic content, melodies, and mood. Keep at it, Veryfakeguest! :)

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
1.5/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
1/1
Composite score
8.75/10

I like the bouncy piano riff at the beginning. The mix is full, clean, and well-balanced, and the sound design is refreshing. This is one of the most authentic-sounding vocoders I’ve ever heard - I thought it was a real person singing for a full 6-8 seconds. The conversational tone of the lyrics is really nice, too. Feels like this song is right out of a musical. The layered string/guitar melody at :51 complements the vocal verse perfectly, and the exposed percussion line at 1:08 does a great job of pushing the “reset button” on the song. The layered vocal line at 2:15 was a great way of adding closure to the piece - it feels like the level of attention to detail and passion for her work the shopkeeper is demonstrating is increasing as the song goes on. Really strong work here, Vermeen! You told a convincing story with this one, right down to the vocaloid. Keep it up! ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.5/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
2/2
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
9.75/10

vermeen responds:

thank you so much! i really did try to bring out a sense of playfulness with this track, i feel proud it shone through. while i don't quite expect to stack up against the veteran competitors in the finals, i'll come up with something i know i'll enjoy writing like i did with this.

I like the glitchy vocals at the beginning and the eerie atmosphere. You started to overuse the vocal samples a bit once the call-and-response started between the “designated for termination” authoritative voice and the more indistinct, calm voice. The sound design is a bit cheesy, including the synths, but the vocal samples take up a bit too much of the mix compared to the synths throughout. The “narrative” of the piece is driven mostly by the vocals, although the techno backing track does have a nice, full texture. Overall, I really enjoyed the creepy mood, rhythmic components, and progression, but some of the other compositional elements are a bit lacking, including melodic content and transitory moments. I also wasn’t too impressed with the sound design - it’s way too dependent on the vocal samples to maintain interest, as much of the rest of it is some pretty unpolished and generic synths. Not to be too harsh, though. You’re clearly a guru at crafting some compelling atmospheres with some catchy techno riffs. Keep at it, Ukatz! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.5/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.5/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1.5/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
1/1
Composite score
6.5/10

Ukatz responds:

It's hard to deny some problems with instrumental part, for the most part I focused on voices and probably, as usual, wanted to throw as much as possible, I'll take this into account in future.
Thank you for your feedback, and in general for holding such an event, it was a pleasure to participate for the first time

I like the pensive piano riff at the beginning and orchestral sound design. Sometimes, the rhythm is a bit square, like at :25 with the piano arpeggios. The thin, contained texture at :50 was nice for some variety, and it leads into the drop at 1:04 really well. The drop itself is pretty minimal, although the rhythmic components at the post-drop (1:42 or so) are pretty neat, and those in turn lead in well to the guitar solo at 1:55. The pacing of this piece is rather fast at times - a lot changes in the texture in a short amount of time. The mixing also feels a tad overdone at times. I’d say some of the lead synths need a bit more room to breathe in the EQ, and the sidechaining is a little heavy for my tastes at times. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the dramatic stop-start transitions with the “whoosh”es (:43, 2:38). That said, you clearly have a strong sense of melody, progression, and sound design. The composition is probably the strongest element of the piece - I felt like you really told a story here, and also cultivated the victorious mood and overarching sense of development extremely well. Keep at it, Runanova! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.5/2
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
1.25/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
8.25/10

I like the distorted synths at the beginning and the cutesy melodic riffs. At :26, the piece sounds a tad over-compressed, and some of the synths at the drop at :55 sounded a bit harsh in the mix. That said, I’m enjoying the rhythmic content here, and the re-intro with the generous use of wet reverb at 1:48 was a good idea. I think you missed an opportunity in that middle section for some more dynamic melodic content, though. The arrangement and some of the composition details are a bit generic here, but the sound design and catchy breaks earn you back some points. I also might’ve liked to see some more variety later in the piece - variation on the main melody, for example. The production quality holds up quite well, though, and you nailed the somewhat foreboding mood and atmosphere. Keep at it, RedMike7! :)

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
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
1/1
Composite score
8/10

I like the ominous mood at the beginning and the combination of the gritty guitars and majestic vocals at :07. I think the compression is a little heavy - the drums are taking up a lot of space in the mix, to the extent that they’re really breaking up the sound waves of the other instruments. The intensity and thick texture are really fun, and I like how you contrasted that with the eerie atmosphere at 1:20. Later on, the piece doesn’t quite get back to the same “emotional height” as before, and I thought the ending could’ve been a bit more creative than a fade-out. I also think there could’ve been some more dynamic melodic content in this piece, as the most prominent example of that is the (short-lived) guitar riff at 1:03. That said, you nailed the atmosphere, rhythmic elements, and sound design here. Solid work, ProjectSoary! ^_^

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
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?)
.5/1
Composite score
8/10

ProjectSoary responds:

Sorry for the late reply. Thank you very much for the detailed review! I'll def. keep that in mind for future releases. Still learning how use this GGD drum plugin. Much appreciated!

I like the string chords at the beginning and the cutesy synth at :17. I’m enjoying the atmosphere at :31 too, but the kick drum there sounds like it has a tad too much treble for my tastes. The cello at :46 sounds pretty inauthentic, but it also blends in well with the texture. The piece is a tad slow to develop at times, but you kept things interesting by doing things like the volume adjustments on the piano line at 1:20. The flute solos at around 2:05 work well, but I would’ve liked to see some more variation on the main melodies during the last minute or so. The arrangement of this piece feels a bit formulaic at times, with very little phrasing within a particular section. The production quality is pretty good, but sometimes the mix feels like it’s missing some higher-pitched tones that would balance it out more. The composition also could’ve been a bit more dynamic and bold at times. Still, overall I enjoyed the atmosphere, sound design, melodies, and progression of this one. Keep at it, OliRO! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.25/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1.25/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.75/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.5/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.75/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.75/1
Composite score
7.25/10

OliRO responds:

Thank you so much for this detailed review! It was quite a good challenge for me and I appreciated every bit of it. If there is something I learned on this one is to be a bit less square in my construction and more daring in the phrasing. : )

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

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