This is an NGADM Round 2 Review.
After hearing your pieces The SuperBugs Attack, Apocalypse 2012 and now this, I can confirm that you have a certain knack towards making the dangerous, exciting, and edge-of-your-seat type of music. This is truly the most epic and exhilarating piece of music that was submitted to this round, and that's no doubt due to your SUBLIME production value. Really, just like in the previous round, you've crafted a truly spectacular orchestral sound. It's this kind of brilliant execution that gives your tracks an edge, since it ups the professionalism tenfold, and makes the track extremely powerful at high volumes. You are really, really good at what you do.
There are some fantastic compositional touches present in this piece which is a nice change from your previous track which sounded more standard and typical. First off, the atmosphere you created at the start is beyond perfect. It sounds somewhat peaceful but the subtle but tasteful use of dissonant note intervals (whether harmonic or melodic) offer a foreshadowing of the peril up ahead, making for a pretty awesome introduction. Things like the 1:57 piano echoing the melody before it, the various dynamic buildups you've made, the intense tempo change at 3:16 and the unexpected but surprisingly suitable mood change at the end create a wonderful listening experience. 4:25 is such a fantastic little crescendo by the way. I know it's a very specific thing to mention but I just loved it.
My issue the same issue I had with Jay-Turner's Round 1 submission. It feels like each section is purely made with the intention of portraying a mood. I hear a motif you use at both the beginning and the end, which is a nice touch for sure, but everything else feels, purely in terms of composition, like filler. The dangerous parts especially have little melodic meaning to them, choosing instead to play expressionless orchestral hits. During the busier sections, you don't really aim to excite the ears with some compositional complexity and structure, instead choosing to write sections that are there simply to portray an experience. While you do a brilliant job of that, I'll be damned if I don't admit I wasn't disappointed with the melodies!
Having said all that, this is brilliantly-executed stuff. Fantastic work, Peter.
Thanks step. The lack of melody seems to be a common point made, i'll be returning to make sure I do have one next time around. :)
Wow, that has to be the beefiest mix from the whole round, maybe rivalled by the likes of garlagan, SolarexMusic or PirateCrab. But really, the raw thump in the drums, the upfront power of the synths and the inexorable aggression in your dubstep bass are very formidable. Unlike MetalRenard, I think this sounds sweet at high volumes because it really highlights the raw sonic intensity of the sound palette you've provided here. I genuinely love the production value of your tracks, and I'm not wary of turning my volume up just to fully experience the really nifty sound manipulation such as the mini sub bass dropping in pitch at parts like 1:20 or the crisp high end you added to the snare at 3:40.
One thing I think you did particularly well in this track, and definitely better than your opponent(s), is control the rise and release of power through more satisfying buildups. Buildups like the ones leading up to 0:54 and 2:44 are simply fantastic. While it's a tried-and-true dubstep technique to build up a lot of intensity only to let it all go with some vocal sample playing on its own, followed by the bass dropping, I don't think it's ever been done with a cow sound before, or at the very least it's not something you hear everyday, I'll give you that! I admit it gave me a laugh and I will henceforth remember this track as "the cow song" because of it. The way you played a drum roll at 2:44 instead of another moo like we were all expecting, and then got the moo in later, was also very clever!
It's sometimes kind of lame to post a review after so many helpful ones were listed under it since you end up just repeating a lot of the same thing, but yeah... I agree that the actual melodies could do with some work. The only melody which I actually enjoyed was 0:42 but you rely on it as your almost sole source of an actual melody, repeating it a lot when it's actually showcased and trudging through copious amounts of sound processing and effects when it's not. Some more interesting melodies would really take this track places, and really, the melodic aspect is the only thing that's lacking (except I thought your chords were a bit loud at times but that's a minor levelling issue). Other aspects of the composition such as structures and transitions are great, which is a refreshing improvement from your Round 1 track.
That's my opinion on it. Regardless, I think it's one of the stronger submissions this round. Very solid work; keep it up!
Thanks Step for the in-depth review, I really appreciate your encouragement and criticism. I will be working really hard on my composition in the future and hopefully can make some cool stuff/
And thanks for holding the NGADM as always, it was awesome to be able to participate this year!
I think you'll be pleased to know that I don't think this sounds rushed at all. While I kind of preferred your Round 1 submission in that it sounded more innovative and memorable than this submission, you've actually fixed the repetition issue from your previous track. I mean, it's not entirely gone but since I admit that you seem to cling on to melodies for too long, but at least now you actually have a really fun variation on the main theme with the B section starting at 1:23. Speaking of which, all of your themes are earworms! While this doesn't have the memorable style and mood of the original, it has some lovable hooks to keep in one's memory.
Production is awesome! I assumed since you had to rush this it'd have a bad mix, but there are literally no signs of rushing in the mix/master. Everything seems considerably well-thought-out and care was taken to ensure that there's both dynamic variety and just the right amount of loudness when needed in the master, and the EQing is pretty much spot on since everything occupies its own space in the mix. I would've liked some more highs, but otherwise it's a good mix!
My first complaint is one I mentioned earlier. Your original track had one main theme but it felt like you were too hesitant to include varieties on it. You fixed that in this track by adding melodic variety, but there still isn't enough. I'm not saying this just because of my orchestral background; having the same melody repeated up to four times over simply isn't fun to listen through after the second repetition, especially when your opponent has such a varied track. Secondly, I feel like stylistically this was a little bland/generic. I mean, it wouldn't be much of an issue if I were reviewing this out of the blue, but for the contest where I have to compare you with your opponent, I feel like johnfn took a less safe route and made something more original.
Anyway, as evident by my high score, I certainly don't think the issues detract that much from this. It's a very well-produced piece of music. Wonderful work.
Thanks Step. Yep, Johnfn did make something more original and he deserved to win. I had little time to finish this. So I rushed it (not that the mixing is bad but I could have put more variety and instruments in it...). It is kind of pity.
Anyways, your reviews are so indepth and these are higly appreciated! Thank you very much!
I'll look forward for next year!
Ever since we've started using the audio playlists feature on Newgrounds for NGADM submissions, I've taken to listening to all of the submissions of a round in the playlist without knowing who made what. And damn, every single time this track popped up while I was listening to the playlist, I instantly KNEW it was made by you. Those smooth lead synths that you use almost like lead guitars with all their solos and pitch bending (and the classic 1:08 johnfn drum roll) are all instantly identifiable as yours, and that style of synths is one of the many things I always enjoy when listening to your music. Parts like 2:47 are simply a gift to the ears. Hell, all your composition is nailed. There's no shortage of likeable hooks in your melodies.
One thing which I think you did particularly well over here is jam-pack your track with loads of different ideas and make them work together for the most part. For instance, you've got an ambient and atmospheric intro, a 5/4 section with wonderful percussion work and then a seamless transition back to 4/4 with this huge soundscape made up of punchy drums, incredible glitch effects, heavy use of reverb and spacey/trippy elements everywhere. The sounds you use to represent these ideas are awesome, to boot. Highlights would be those looming bassy hits at 1:38 and the spacey glissandi at the end. Great stuff.
Now, I know this might come off as a surprise since it has NEVER EVER happened before with your NGADM submissions... EVER... but the mixing might've been rushed at the last minute. I mean, I've come to expect great mixing from you since I know you're capable of it and in your defence this isn't particularly bad, but parts like 2:47 sound messy and overcompressed, the snare was a bit too harsh at the beginning and could've been mixed in better, and the hits towards the end are obnoxiously loud and drown out the other elements rather than accentuate them like they should be doing. Also, yeah I agree the transition at 1:38 is a little abrupt, but man I need to commend you once more on transitioning back to 4/4 so well, so that sort of makes up for it!
Not your best, but still a blast to listen to. Love it!
Haha step forgive me! I normally have a only a single weekend to work on these things (i have a job and stuff...) and it's hard! :p it's especially hard to mix under such tight time constraints... Maybe I should just quit my job!
This song was particularly tough for me for some reason. I think it's because I decided to have it be made out of like 3.5 smaller songs. That was tough. heh
Thanks for the thoughts... I will try to leave some time for mixing next time ;-)
It's killing me to see that you have only 7 fans here on Newgrounds! You've pumped out another well-produced track in a similar style to that of your audition, and you honestly deserve a lot more recognition here for your skills. For starters I think your melody is, in the same light as your previous submission, catchy, well-developed and fun to listen to. There's this distinct Megaman-like quality to your track at 1:07 in that there's a pretty raw, chiptune-esque lead synth and it's very melodic. You've supported your melody with layers of arps and pads, embellishing your background with a wonderful dreamy texture. Love that 3:40 filter automation by the way!
The sounds you've used are mostly very suited to the theme and sound good. The chimes at 3:07 are a very nice touch and freshen up the listening experience as they weren't really showcased before that part (or at least they were played too subtly for me to hear them!), the drums are once again punchy and crisp, and the vocals, I think, are a very welcomed addition! The only sound I didn't quite like is the lead saw synth with all that portamento at 1:28, which sounded a bit too detuned for my tastes, but that's just my own opinion. My favourite sounds have to be the softer sounds which evoke such a fantastic atmosphere at parts like the intro.
Production is leagues above the production value of a typical electronic track here on Newgrounds, although at this point I certainly can't expect less from you! The clarity and loudness is all there. If I had to suggest anything related to mixing, it'd be to include a bit more bass, turn up the vocals and turn down the drums. You know, I think the only notable pertinent issue I have with this is that it isn't quite as novel as I hoped it'd be. Your other tracks offered more unique listening experiences, whereas this feels a bit more like by-the-book Drum and Bass, and as much as I love it, it's still something I feel needs mentioning.
Anyway, EXTREMELY solid track right here, please keep it up!
Thank you, Step! It's been a pleasure being a part of the competition, and I can't wait to be a part of it next year. I only just discovered Newgrounds, but I'll definitely be posting more stuff here. It's great exposure and a great community. I'll see you around the forums!
Damn, man. You know how much I love your music but the best part about it all is that you've never flopped so far. Every single track of yours that I've heard is extremely well-produced, well-written and just sets the bar every time! Of course, this doesn't fall behind on that expectation. What I think this excels in compared to your audition is that it's unlike anything I've heard before. It's precisely this kind of clever synth work and unique composition that, in my opinion, distinguishes the generic electronic music from the really special ones. From the slap bass, to the huge chords, to the sliced female voice at the end, there really is something for everyone.
I think my favourite thing about this track apart from how unique and creative it is, is that you've established some insanely addicting motifs, such as that little 0:06 melodic phrase which serves as a foreshadowing to what comes afterwards, or those bars where you move the first kick of the bar a half-beat forwards and accentuate it (example: 0:20) which gives it an awesome syncopated feeling. What shines aren't the melodies you use, but your little motifs and how you incorporate them seamlessly into the track.
I don't even feel the necessity to tell you how good I think your production is. I do kind of agree this could do with a more defined bass and it's mixed too loudly in sections like 0:27 with not much dynamic range, but they honestly didn't bother me much. I'm a huge fan of all the sounds you've used (especially those glissandi at parts like 1:18) except the synth brass (I think that's synth brass) that first comes in at 0:27. It might be just me, or might be how loud the sections using it are in, but I sort of felt like it was too blaring and crude-sounding for a polished and thick mix like this.
Anyway, wow. I prefer your Round 1 track since I think it has stronger composition but this is still yet another amazing track. You have to be one of my favourite electronic artists on the site, seriously. Keep it up.
WHOA! Thanks Step!
Your reviews are probably my favourite thing from the NGADM <3
Another round, another charming VGM tune! You know, contrary to what garlagan said in his review, I don't quite think your style is very original, but in a way that's what I love about it. You've nailed a style that's not done to death in modern times and is still very familiar and nostalgia-inducing, and like in your Round 1 track, it gives this loads of charm and enjoyability. Most of this is coming in the sounds you use, which, while sounding a little harsh at times, synergise SO well with each other. The acid bass, the delayed hypersaw, the laser sound effects, the synth brass, the chimes, the vibrato, the snare-heavy drum patterns... at the risk of sounding like Apple, it just WORKS.
Now that group stages are over I'm able to directly compare competitors with their opponents, and I feel like it's especially viable to do so with you and garlagan since I think it's an easily comparable matchup where each submission has noticeable faults and strengths. In the composition department, I have to admit I think yours takes the cake by a bit. The melodies all sound inspired like in your audition and are structured wonderfully. Your rhythms are probably my favourite aspect of the composition though. You accentuate your rhythms with loads of drum hits and it's just a blast to listen to.
My only issue is kind of similar to the one I had in your Round 1 track. It's the mix. Due to the fact that the frequencies often clash in the lower half of the spectrum, it again gets a little ear-stressing. I don't think the problem is NEARLY as present here because, to my delight, you took my advice and added more dynamic sections, like 1:15 and 3:12. Still, you need to work on making the mix less muddy and cluttered! This is what's giving garlagan an edge, and in a genre where production is so important, I'm afraid it's enough of an edge for me to give him a higher score!
Anyway, the mix isn't bad by any means. It's just a little muddy during the busier sections. Whatever the case, I am starting to get really partial to your music! Good job with this.
Thanks for the excellent review. I love hearing that you enjoy my tracks and I love the detailed feedback that you give. One day I'll nail down the mixing stuff, and I feel silly that my last track didn't have much dynamic range (I should know better).
But other than that I love that what I can take away with this is the possibility of winning over another fan through my music. I'm glad you like it and I'm glad to hear a 8.6 out of you (although I was aiming for a 9). And now that I look back on it, I guess I really like to stress out on the composition more so than the mixing.
Be awesome, be more awesome, and repeat.
So I finally got around to reviewing this! Being your NGADM contest audition, I suppose I can use this review to try and address why you didn't make it in, although let me make it clear from now that I do think you deserved a spot in the competition. I in fact did vote for you if I remember correctly. In that light, I'm probably not the best judge to get a review from, since I'm sure it'd be a lot more helpful to get opinions from the judges who didn't vote for you.
Overall your amount of votes from the judges was JUST short of enough to land you a spot in the contest. To make matters even closer, when InYourDreams had to step out, it was a toss between an even smaller amount of people, including LunacyEcho and you. So yeah, just to give you an idea how close it actually was (yes I am desperately trying to get you to stop bugging me about it and yes I know you won't stop that easily :3).
But yeah, that aside, time to talk about the track. In my personal notes that I wrote for each audition, I commended you on your composition and percussion, but had "sounds formulaic" written down. My opinion on that is still unchanged - your melody and harmony is still pretty damn good, your rock drums add a very welcomed energetic and exciting flair to the track and yes, unfortunately it does sound fairly formulaic. Let me be a bit more specific.
I actually don't agree with LunyAlex on the progression - I don't think it's that great (unless he was talking about the CHORD progression which is pretty sweet). The way the track progresses is actually one of the main reasons why I think it sounds formulaic. Almost every four bars you introduce one or two new elements, and there's very little buildup or suitable anticipation for any of the new melodic elements you introduce, save for maybe the staccato strings that start fading in around 40 seconds into the track, and come on, that's just a bland fade-in.
That and the lack of variety in your chord progression give this track kind of an artificial and formulaic structure and sound. It's like I can imagine the FL Studio patterns playing in my head when I hear this, and I shouldn't be imagining that. I should be imagining the picture you paint with this track and the emotions you convey, not piano rolls and step sequencers, if you get what I mean!
The structure of this track and its progression is simply too linear. I want to hear more meaningful buildups beyond fade-ins, I want to hear contrasts, foreshadowing, call-and-response, subtle little intricacies that take many listens to notice... things like that. It's not about me hating on a more simple, minimalist approach, but I feel like a larger degree of unpredictability, dynamics and versatility would elevate this track immensely.
Also, I hate to constantly send you Denny Schneidemesser music and I bet you're sick of him now (BUT YOU SHOULDN'T BE BECAUSE HE'S AWESOME)... but yeah I think this track of his could serve as GREAT inspiration for music of this genre:
It's a similar approach to your track - it tries to sound hopeful, expressive and even has some subtle rock drums at one point. The difference is, it has a much less linear structure, has BUCKETLOADS of sweet call-and-response between instruments, and swells/dies down much more naturally. Something to work on!
Now I mean it wouldn't be a full review if I just complain about what this track could improve in. There are some things which you actually do really well in this, which actually led me to voting for your audition in the NGADM. Your melodies, harmonies, layers of different instruments playing different passages, accompaniment (especially of the percussive kind) and overall balance of different instruments are all on point! While I think you could've been a bit more ambitious and brave with your instrument choice (some woodwinds would've been nice), your instrumentation is good too. While the issue I've talked about for most of the review is present and does hurt the enjoyment factor of this piece, there are tons of redeeming factors. It's a huuuge improvement from the last track I reviewed from you, Despondency!
So yeah, those are my honest thoughts about it. Keep up the good work man, and I wish you luck in your journey to become an ORCHESTRAL PRO.
Hello, and thanks for taking the time! <3
I was actually looking forward to your opinion specifically. I've shown you things in the past and really wanted to know how much I had improved since. It sucks I didn't pass, but welp! That only means I need to work more. I'm sure I'll make it next year (if I'm not busy moving for my studies)! And we both know that's not enough to make meh staph >:D
I completely agree. It is very formulaic in the sense it follows a very linear and predictable progression. I learned most of my music through electronic styles and they all follow very similar patterns. I discovered orchestral just recently, and I'm in love with it! I often get frustrated at how I can't make them seem as natural as some other people. But hey, I'm learning! Every piece I compose allows me to experiment even further and get closer to my goal.
The chord progression is fairly simple, I wanted to try and find different ways to make it progress but had a bit of trouble, so I stayed on the safe side with this one. The chord progression repeats itself way too much. I'm still learning how to vary those, chords are definitely one of my weaknesses. I totally get what you mean, I can see it too. I'm aware it's a big issue I have in a lot of my songs, but then again, still learning! Thanks for the link by the way, I will definitely have a listen, and not just one! :D
There is actually a flute in there, but it's mastered very low, perhaps a tad too subtle? I do agree I need to add more woodwinds in general though. I think I'm a bit scared of them, even though I shouldn't! But I'm learning to use them and every time I add more variety, it's super interesting~
In any case, I'm glad you still managed to enjoy it despite it's flaws! I will most definitely keep working. I want to make more, more, more! I'm really excited for what's to come. Thank you so much for your review, I appreciate it immensely!
This is an NGADM Round 1 Review.
I undoubtedly consider you one of the most underrated artists this year. I mean, 39 fans (well, make that 40 with me included) and you make music like this? It's a disgrace! One thing that both your audition and this has is particularly warm and vibrant chords. 1:09's pad adds this wonderfully deep atmosphere with those thick chords which I think is this track's trademark. The chords themselves are good too, composition-wise! I was a little disappointed to hear that the chords you played at 1:09 were the same as the chords you played with the plucked bass synth at the beginning of the track, but hey, it's a good progression! Your sounds are all pretty sweet with the exception of a few which I'll mention later, and your production value/sound design is commendable! Good work.
Now, I first off pretty much agree with midimachine on everything he said, apart from the points about the structure which didn't bother me as much (but I would've definitely liked some more unique sections). So first off, the intro is very bland. It doesn't do the track much justice to have that generic bass synth play at the start, followed by a plain-sounding arp and an anticlimactic buildup/drop. I'm also not a huge fan of your snare. At 0:42 you use this really dry and bland snare and I guess the more clap-like snare in the climaxes is better but nothing like the ground shaker you had in your audition. And the ending... not impressed I'm afraid! It certainly came off sounding like a cop-out and made the track sound somewhat unfinished.
This is almost a carbon copy of midi's review, but yeah I definitely agree with all that he said. This is otherwise a very well-made electronic track with very thick and lush chords and good production. Nice one.
thank you for the creative criticism, when reading midimachines review i just expected him to say ´wow you suck´ or something like that since the review was a bit harsh, but since you guys have been doing this for far longer than i have most likely, i take the criticism and tips with open arms.
Well, this is actually quite a bit better than I expected! Judging from a standpoint where I'm aware that you're new to this genre, I'm positively surprised. Even if you weren't new to this genre, I would still consider this a solid track with a well-crafted atmosphere, great choice of sounds and a fantastic mood. So yes, all in all, certainly not bad at all!
You kick things off with a very good intro. The static and subtle radio effects sell it for me. I would be even more impressed if you did it all yourself rather than slicing up a free sound effect or something, but nevertheless I think you did a great job with it. The choir sits atop your bassy soundscape very nicely, and everything cooperates to create a pretty intense yet restrained and low-key mood. The little atmospheric effects like the one at 1:43 are just the BOMB by the way! I'm actually interested in where you got those sounds from, since they're sweet.
After the great progression from the intro we're treated to mostly atmospheric fluff, which leads me to a point that other reviews have also mentioned. I too was hoping for something a little more noteworthy in the track, whether a new dynamic section, a melody-driven section, a change in style or in key, etc. I mean, even to put in the background of a film/game I would find this a bit too uneventful. I mean, what you've got here is actually considerably well-made, but as Jacob pointed out there's plenty of room left to explore without needing to turn it into some epic trailer score.
Another thing I noticed is something which MIGHT have come from your electronic music roots. You seem to reuse certain patterns and sounds a lot. For instance, the synth at 1:10 - every two bars it plays the exact same pattern, just in a different pitch, and 2:30's synth and the electric guitar suffer the exact same issue. On top of that, 1:46's motif (which is awesome by the way) is played ad nauseam throughout the rest of the track.
My point is, while this isn't traditional orchestral and has a lot of other electronic elements and even an electric guitar, I still believe that it should sound organic and with subtle changes in the patterns used to build your atmosphere. On the plus side, you do have a lot of different patterns layered together, and some nifty atmospheric effects as mentioned earlier, which do help, but with a static chord progression and such a large repetition of patterns, I'm afraid it falls somewhat short of organic and does get pretty repetitive as MirgilCando pointed out.
Something which certainly doesn't fall short is the production though. Everything is tastefully mixed and balanced well, apart from the guitar which I think could sit at the back a little more. I actually don't think you need to turn its volume down per se, but just nudging out some of its high frequencies and maybe giving it a few more lows to compensate would make it penetrate the mix a little less and sit neatly in the background (which is, in all honesty, where it should be, since it doesn't play anything particularly profound to warrant it being upfront and heard in the foreground).
While I do think you could've put a little more effort into the variation of this track, your mood, atmosphere and choice of sounds are simply on point, and you've made a pretty damn solid cinematic track! Great job.
Thank you for the review Step! I really appreciate it! I'm so glad you enjoyed it despite its flaws!
Haha yeah, the radio effect was fun. I didn't create the sounds. I just created the patterns, length of the effects, and of course the mixing. Each effect was a separate sound, but it certainly wasn't some crazy feat of ingenuity on my part. =P
I used Cinematic Guitars 2, Evolve Mutations 2, and some Spitfire libraries for most of the atmospheric stuff! I probably went through a hundred different sounds in each library to get the right combinations so I'm really happy you liked the atmosphere of the song! =)
I think I'm partly just making excuses for myself. I know I can do better when it comes to the tone and the pace of the song. I really need to study more music theory and learn a lot of the basics still. I do almost everything by ear and while I think I've gotten better over the past year, I still have a lot to learn. I still don't fully grasp what makes a good chord progression or how to effectively change keys... stuff like that. Which may be ok for some electronic genres... but it's a lot more noticeable here, I think. You can certainly see it in my reuse of certain patterns. I tried to add some variety with the choir and the drums, but I feel like I'm too scared to change things up lest I mess everything up, haha.
I'm quite surprised that I've been complimented on my production as much as I have been! Thank you for that! I feel like I'm getting better when it comes to mixing, but I do wish that I could attribute that more to skill than playing it by ear. The production on this song could be a complete accident, haha. That's another field where I could do with some tutorials!
Anyway, thanks again for the detailed review! I means a lot to me! I'm gonna take my time with my next cinematic song. Watch a ton of tutorials and not cut any corners. Hopefully I can make something that will at the very least, show improvement on my end! ^_^
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