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TaintedLogic

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I just remembered that you asked for a review on your NGUAC piece, and it seems like there aren't any judges biting yet, so here I am!

I like the ominous mood at the beginning. The sound design goes through several abrupt changes in the first 30 seconds or so, from big 80s synths to new wave atmosphere to videogame-ish to hard rock. It seems like the hard rock won the battle at the end of the day, though, and I like the frantic guitar riffs and crisp drums for the rest of the first minute. There's another pretty abrupt transition at 1:02, but the warmer tones of the strumming there help provide some contrast to the more edgy tone of earlier. At this point, the piece seems like a call-and-response between the frantic and heavy electric guitar riffs to the more laid-back vibe of the strummed one. The breakdown at 2:20 was a nice moment of structural contrast to break up that cycle, and the transition back into 2:46 was smooth, albeit a bit cheesy. The piece comes together well towards the end, but at some point I might've liked to hear a more dynamic melody or solo - something to really hold onto, you know? The heavy guitar refrain seems to play more of a rhythmic role here than something that really drives the "narrative" aspect of the piece. The other main problem I have with the piece is the choppy arrangement, with a lot of rough transitions, especially early on, that feel a tad jarring in the grand scheme of things. That said, I think you nailed the sound design, rhythmic content, production, and atmosphere. Really creative piece overall, Thetageist! Good luck in the Knockout Round. ^_^

Thetageist responds:

Thanks for all that feedback! I see one of my directions to go in in the future should be how to write for rock guitar, so I don’t have to use preset patterns as a crutch anymore. And transitions. Transitions have always been my weak point.

I just remembered that you asked for a review on your NGUAC piece, and it seems like there aren't any judges biting yet, so here I am!

I like the edgy guitar riffs at the beginning. The echo effects are a little overwhelming, though, and that in turn causes the rhythms to trip over each other a bit. I also would've liked to hear more of the drums in the mix. Right now, they're clearly overwhelmed by the guitars. There also could be more structuring and ebb-and-flow over the course of this piece. I feel like that would help the listener warm up to the experimental texture and give the piece a stronger sense of development over time. The mix is loud and clean, but the weak drums and overuse of mixing effects detracts from my enjoyment of the production here. There are a lot of neat compositional ideas here, though, from the guitar riffs to echo-y syncopations. They just need to be arranged a bit more effectively to keep the listener grounded. Keep at it, BALDORF! :)

BALDORF responds:

My comment was more of a jab at my song being so mediocre that it didn't get a review, rather than asking for one, but thanks.

I just remembered that you asked for a review on your NGUAC piece, and it seems like there aren't any judges biting yet, so here I am!

I like the dreamy atmosphere at the beginning and the percussion at :15. The beat at :25 is a tad over-compressed, but it does help increase the energy level and give an otherwise ambient piece a sense of drive. I was a little thrown off by the repetition of the intro at :54 given that it felt that the piece hadn't hit a climax yet, and then the transition into 1:20 felt a tad abrupt. I'm enjoying the rhythmic content there, but the mid-range bass is a tad harsh in my earbuds. The harmonic content of the piece is pretty minimal and repetitive, and I think there could've been a stronger sense of ebb and flow in the composition too. The arrangement feels almost formulaic after a while. That said, the sound design, production quality, rhythmic content, and atmosphere are all really admirable here. Keep at it, Kierham! :)

Kierham responds:

Thanks!

I just remembered that you asked for a review on your NGUAC piece, and it seems like there aren't any judges biting yet, so here I am!

I like the gritty guitars at the beginning. The drums could be a tad more up-front in the mix, but otherwise the production quality is solid here. The vocals sound pretty raw and passionate, but also a little dry in the mix, and I'm not sure the somewhat atonal nature of them works well for me. The solos at 1:49 are much more of my cup of tea, and I also think the "I must be fuckin' crazy" vocals later on work better because they fit nicely into the harmonic framework of the rest of the piece. Overall, I really like the energy, sound design, production, progression, and rhythmic content of the piece. The lyrics are a little cringey at times - seems like you're playing a one-dimensional character with them - but your raspy baritone fits the tone of the piece very well. Keep at it, KRB, and good luck in the next round. ^_^

KillerRATband responds:

haha, I had been so caught up trying to make my submission for the KO round that I forgot to ask larry and the other guys to review it, I'll probably do that now that you remind me, I especially am interested to hear what the judges other than larry would say since I think I already have an idea of what he might have to say, although his thoughts could surprise me too!

yeah, I've always been bad at knowing the right balance between guitars and drums lol. it's either that the drums are always too loud, or the guitars are always too loud. that's kinda something I'm still trying to get good at. as for the vocals, I really suck at like producing and mixing vocal tracks, I can do pretty good with guitar and bass but when it comes to mixing and mastering the vocals, idk, everything I do ends up sucking so I just kinda leave them dry lmao. The 1:49 solo was completely improvised, I kinda recorded it after just cherry picking a few notes and going from there, then after that I liked the solo so much I decided to practice it and re-record it before submitting to make it better lol. I suck at coming up with good vocal melodies, but I am getting better, so that is why I can sound a bit tonedeaf, singing-wise, in a lot of the song, although it is good to hear that someone appreciated my performance at the end there! that was the part where I was really trying haha.

I've always been a rhythmic kinda guy, never was too big into doing impressive melodies. I always hear the beat first, which is why I like a lot of hip hop and nu metal music, I love how complicated the rhythms and drum patterns are in those styles, and I always feel like good rhythms in music are the kind that aren't just "bootsncatsnbootsncatsn", you know? I like rhythms that are recognizable, ones that really drive a song forward to being picked out of a crowd. This song may not even show my rhythmic capabilities as much as it could have, when I really want to, I can sure make something that gets you bouncing even better than this, which I hope to be able to show more of soon.

As for the lyrics, yeah, they make me sound a bit one-dimensional cause I only sing about one aspect of my life and personality, and it's the part that makes me seem like, well, an asshole. There's a lot more to me than this, but I didn't think it made sense to make a song about literally every piece of my personality lol. One song at a time.

I really appreciate your feedback, man, and I hope to get further in the next round as well. I am admittedly a bit nervous cause I feel like I submitted something that could've been way better if I worked on it more, and I know I can keep working on it if I want to by the rules, but you know, I think I want to just see what happens. What if I work on it and end up making it worse instead? lol

Thank you for listening and thank you for your feedback.
ilyyyyy <3
-J

I just remembered that you asked for a review on your NGUAC piece, and it seems like there aren't any judges biting yet, so here I am!

I like the eerie whistling and pulsing atmospheric pads at the beginning. The harmonies are a bit dissonant, but the texture comes together well by 1:20 or so. The reverb is a tad thick, but otherwise the mix is well-balanced and rich-sounding. The piano solos help keep me engaged too. The synth bass sounds a tad generic, but otherwise the sound design is really nice overall. The orchestral flair of the piece at 3:00 or so was a nice touch, and the edgier tone at 3:17 was a good change-of-direction to the track. The vocals at 3:17 sound a bit indistinct in the mix - were they recorded specifically for this track, or are they sampled from somewhere? After a slow climb down from the emotional height at 3:17, the eerie church bell at 4:50 helps me refocus, and I like the more mysterious tone of the rest of the piece. The whispered vocals at around 5:35 fit the mood very well, and you've really made a great effort at making the piece come full-circle. This is really strong cinematic work here, BlighterProductions. Best of luck in the Knockout Round! ^_^

BlighterProductions responds:

Hey man, thanks for the review. TeraVex had also sent me some feedback, but he gave me some through PM’s.

I enjoyed making this one because I was discovering some new possibilities in the software that I was using, and I wanted to experiment with sound more. In my opinion, I think the mix sounds a bit muffled, but that would also add to the isolation that the piece is based around.

The whistling was inspired by the music that director Quentin Tarantino uses in some of his movies, and they always kinda have an isolated or tense feeling for me, so that is why the whistling is in there.

The vocals were synthesized, so there was no audio recording or sample involved. They sound a bit hollow because it is supposed to illustrate the aforementioned isolated vibe. Only the whistle and the “lie down and close your eyes” part were vocalized by me personally.

With the piano, I took an effect which made it sound like it was surrounded by brick walls, and you’re listening from the other side. It illustrates that feeling of being stuck in an enclosure, with the outside world on the other side of the wall.

The piece for me overall revolves around the confusion of being abducted and being taken somewhere unknown, hence the strange pacing and instrumentation. The growth in energy represents the increasing clarity of the lead character as he becomes more and more aware of his surroundings as his consciousness kicks in. I leave it up to the listener to interpret whether the place where he/she was taken to is good or not. To me, the tone of the song is a bit moody, but also kind of hopeful.

The part where the orchestrals come in is where the character conceives a plan to escape the place, which is why there is a tense energy in that particular part of the song. Then again, I let the listener interpret or theorize whether or not the escape plan had worked. The ending can mean one of two things:

1-The character has escaped, and now takes a well deserved rest from his breakout, or…
2-He/she was caught in the attempt, and thrown back into his/her cell, to spend the rest of his/her life pondering his/her fate, until he/she is old and unable to escape.

Anyways, thanks for the review, and I hope to be able to put out a track in time.

Greetings

I like the ominous percussion and atmosphere at the beginning. The progression is a bit slow-paced, but the echo effects and heavy percussion help keep things interesting for a while. The rhythmic content is good, too, and the alternating ascending and descending synth lines (like at 1:01) are also pretty neat. By around the 2-minute mark, though, I’m getting a little restless with the persistent minimalism of the piece. The atmosphere feels a bit more saturated by that point, but I still need some harmonic content to grasp onto at some point. There are some creative compositional and rhythmic ideas in here, and the bass at 2:33 helps at least outline the skeleton of a chord progression, but it’s not quite enough to keep me engaged after a while. I could see this piece fitting quite well in a post-apocalyptic-themed video game, but as a stand-alone piece the composition is pretty bland at the end of the day. You’re clearly a talented producer with a knack for creating catchy beats, foreboding moods, and rich textural atmospheres, but I was looking for a bit more harmonic depth here. My favorite aspect of this piece is probably the mood. You do overuse the ascending and descending synth patterns a bit by the end, but in the meantime there’s plenty of great nightmare fuel in here, especially at around 6:10. Keep at it, VictorLincolnPine! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.5/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1/2
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
6.5/10

VictorLincolnPine responds:

The piece was designed for a game where the world is foreboding and deadly at every turn, but eventually the player becomes so powerful that world itself can literally be erased by them if they so choose. I didn't necessarily compose it for engagement, but rather as the background for something the player is already doing (in this case trudging through the very deadly Frozen Vault, where there's explosives literally buried in the snow).

Thank you for your honest criticism. I will keep it in mind for future works. (especially for this knockout round).

Addendum: Just to let you know, there are in fact no chords in this piece. The work is a shaman style piece that uses drums and sound design with sparse synth.

I like the ominous mood at the beginning, but the percussion is way too overpowering - I think that’s mostly the fault of the compression, and partially the fault of the reverb. Either way, please rein in these volume levels. Otherwise, the drop at :46 is catchy, if a little minimal, and I like your sound design and progression. The composition gets a little disjointed and dissonant at 1:23 - the transition there was very sudden and jarring for me. I think the mix would sound much better balanced with more mid-range and treble-range frequencies in there at some point, and the percussion roll at 2:19 is way too grating and harsh to be given that much space in the mix. Overall, you have a good sense of rhythm and atmosphere, and a talent for adding interest to your pieces with quirky transitions and mixing effects. That said, you went a little too far with the compression here, and the composition is both choppy and bland. As far as how to improve, the first thing I would do is turn down the gain on those compressors and reverb plug-ins - that might give you a full extra point, to be honest. Then, I’d layer on some atmospheric content at the drops, and maybe mix in a melodic section at the bridge at 1:23 instead of those jarring piano chords. Obviously, you can work on the piece as you want to, but the bottom line is that the mix here should really sound less harsh and the composition should have more harmonic interest at a couple of key points. Keep at it, ThunderFrank! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
1/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
.75/2
Instrumentation and sound design
.5/1
Emotion, atmosphere, and catchiness
1/1.5
Originality and uniqueness
.5/1
Overall (how do the elements above interact?)
.25/1
Composite score
5/10

ThunderFrankMusic responds:

you wrote a lot of text, thanks for your punctuation, judge!!!!!!!

The bass slide at the beginning was pretty cool, and I like the crisp beats and airy synths. The texture is pretty minimal, but the mixing and mastering are solid. The arpeggios at :45 are nice, too, but at some point I would’ve liked to hear a more dynamic and memorable section where you fully explore some of the harmonic themes of the piece. In other words, during the middle section of the piece, you alternate between a bunch of different short-lived melodies, but they don’t feel very well-connected or flowing, and the result is the piece is pretty disjointed and lacks a strong climax or “point or arrival.” It might help if at some point you had a bridge or breakdown where you strip away the beat, and only after that did you introduce the main melody. But otherwise, I like the sound design, mood, beats, and mixing here. Keep at it, TechnoDrama! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
2/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.75/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1.75/2
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?)
.25/1
Composite score
7.5/10

TechnoDrama responds:

My reaction to this is exactly how I reacted to @ADR3-N earlier, so I'll just be lazy and copy and paste:

Wow. I've been around a long time. I started posted my songs on MP3.COM in the late 1990's. All these years of posting music online and I've never heard anything like this. Ever. This is absolutely, hands down, the best and most constructive feedback I have ever received. I put this stuff out and no one ever talks about the mix and that is the piece I struggle with the most and the part that I always worry about the most. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. I'm going to back and try these suggestions out and see what happens. Thank you so much.

Also, I realize the irony in being around all this time and still not knowing how to mix but I do have a life that, for good or bad, takes precedence over this hobby of mine. By the time I figure it out...well...I'd rather not think about that yet.

I like the groovy synths and heavy compression at the beginning. The drum samples are a bit generic, although until the beat comes in it’s a bit hard to follow the rhythm. I enjoyed the sense of climax into :58, although the drop was a bit minimal and bottom-heavy. I did like the dissonant, pitter-patter synth riff that comes in every 8 bars or so, like at 1:30. The drop felt pretty dragged-out, and the sudden change in the harmonic framework at 2:10 was a bit jarring. At some point, I would’ve liked to hear some more prominent melodic content, more harmonic depth, and/or a fuller texture. You manage to keep the texture interesting with the industrial-sounding snare at 3:26 and vocal effects later on. Overall, I think the mixing, mastering, and rhythmic content are really strong here, but the composition feels both bland and disjointed. You transition between the sections a little too quickly, with the sweeps and risers not really doing much to stitch together the disparate instruments and harmonic patterns. Still, a lot of the isolated ideas here are really neat, like the jazzy pads at 2:10. They just need to be integrated with the earlier sections in a more compelling way. Keep at it, Solaraloe! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.75/2
Structure, transitions, phrasing, and variety
.75/1.5
Melody, tonality, harmony, and texture
1/2
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
6.5/10

Solaraloe responds:

Thanks for the feedback and encouraging words!

I like the eerie mood, quirky synths, and ghostly pads at the beginning. The cute melody at :18 is a nice touch, although the bass that comes in at :35 makes the texture sound pretty muddy. I’d suggest taking some of the reverb off of it and tightening up the equalizers in the other instruments. I think the composition could’ve been more fleshed-out. There’s a lot of tension in this piece that never quite gets fully explored or resolved. The result is that this track seems fitting for a video game loop, but leaves me wanting more as a stand-alone piece. You nailed the sound design and atmosphere here, though. Keep at it, Shabbyjazz! :)

Mixing, mastering, and balance
1.25/2
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?)
.75/1
Composite score
7/10

Shabbyjazz responds:

Although irrelevant to this competition, this track started out as background music for a Minecraft mod that I was a part of, the theme itself was that of the undead and their lair underground, so this somber little theme would be played whenever the players wandered the dead cities. Hence why it does sound like a video game loop. Alas, they scrapped the undead entirely so I just made some finishing touches to it and made it a more complete track.

Anyway, thank you for your review, as always it's very in-depth and thorough.

Hi. I'm Andrew. Audio portal junkie since 2010, supporter since 2017. I always want to improve what I do! I make music, run the NGUAC, post poetry on BBS, and am the all-time #2 audio reviewer. I love this site, and I want to make it the best I can! ^_^

Andrew Mikula @TaintedLogic

25, Male

Student

Bates College

Austin, Texas

Joined on 8/16/12

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