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Massive nostalgia coming from this track. I used to listen to this so much back in the day! It's quite easy to hear the improvement from the original though. This is significantly meatier and more professional-sounding, and you were a lot more creative with your effects. The climax at 2:40 sounds SO good now! And yet it still retains its excellent melodic content and wonderful narrative. A truly epic piece.

I have a few gripes, like 1:33's staccato choirs feeling oddly quiet and 2:12's distorted instrument sounding a little silly, but overall this was an absolute pleasure to listen to.

You know, I don't think I've ever said this before (you likely have no idea who I am haha) but since you're back on Newgrounds I just wanted to say that your music has been an absolute inspiration for me. Without it I might've not opted to invest in East/West or attempt to develop a more professional, cinematic sound for myself.

Thanks for the stellar remaster and keep up the phenomenal work.

Danman87 responds:

Thanks so much, super glad to still see you around!

Really glad you liked the track! And yeah, I've balanced those choir staccatos a bit since I wanted the choir to slowly move from the background into the main melodic line. That eguitar was fully intended to be silly, as this was always supposed to be a very cheesy, comic book-like track. :D

It's been so long since I've reviewed a piece of music, but after you left the review on my track it's only fair for me to return the favour!

So I've given this a good few listens and what struck me the most was the unsettling atmosphere. Nowadays I find that a lot of horror soundtracks feel like cop-outs. They throw together whatever shrill and unsettling sounds they can find into a hodge-podge of atonal ambience that may seem fitting in whatever background they play in, but as standalone tracks they have no musical meaning. As such, it's nothing short of refreshing to hear a horror piece with great ambience that actually has melodic substance in it!

I loved your use of background sound effects. The laughs from the child and the wispy, brooding swells of the chasing shadow really do sell the piece's chilling atmosphere, and they're quiet enough to be considered subtle while still loud enough to be audible. 0:42 and similar parts have a instantly likeable vibe that's incredibly reminiscent of old horror soundtracks.

Actually, in general I'm a fan of your chord choices. You make fairly occasional use of stereotypically "happier" chords like major and sus2, but throw in enough minor/augmented chords and notes to break up the generally happy connotation of the major chords, which is a great way to sort of melodically tell the story of a child playfully running around a mansion, unaware of the sinister force tailing her.

My main gripe with the track is that it's simply unable to hold interest for the full seven minutes. You follow the same pattern of broken chords for pretty much the entire track, and repeat the same chord progression multiple times on a macro and micro level. By the first 2 minutes, we've heard pretty much all the track has to offer, beyond subtle ambience changes and some rather neat vintage-sounding EQ towards the end.

Unlike the below reviewers, I like the piano sound, but the cinematic composer in me is dying for some more dynamics on it. The slight ritardando at 1:14 and the little break at 2:05 (and the similar one later on) felt like a breath of fresh air. More of that stuff!

Of course, if you go overboard on dynamics and the song starts to lose its proficiency as a background piece, but I personally believe that a lot can be done to the dynamics and subtlety of a piece while still retaining its context as something that sits in the background. Adding more dynamics will also automatically solve my aforementioned criticism of the song struggling to retain interest for a full seven minutes.

Overall, if you were setting out to tell a chilling story, then you certainly achieved that. This was a fun listen with a refreshing amount of melodic substance and good, non-cheesy usage of sound effects and background ambience. Nice work!

IoTheEternal responds:

Thanks! I struggled with this because I wanted to keep it minimalistic but I also wanted the actual song to be a background to the ambiance, not the other way around - like something playing on a record far away in the mansion - so I didn't want it to take away too much or make it too dynamic.. I actually tried to add more and it started to take away from the piece - and yes you are probably right that it loses interest around 2:00 but I am also a big fan of ambient and zoning out to soundscapes and stuff, so maybe it just doesn't seem as bad to me..

anyways glad you liked the picture it painted - that was my goal overall! Thanks for the review dude! :)

-shawn-

This is an NGADM Round 5 Review

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You, sirs, have been rocking this contest since the start. Every round you had an extremely memorable, distinguishable track, and each one was so well-produced, well-executed, and well-written. This was, above all, an incredibly well-deserved first place.

What I respect the most about this track would be the scale of it all. Once again we've got four talented vocalists in here, and on top of that there's actually a lot of detail and variation that can be found in elements of the mix like the guitar and vocals. In addition to that, you have a tried-and-true song structure, climactic ending, and emotionally uplifting melody, which makes this a VERY fulfilling and satisfactory listening experience. Production-wise, this is also no slacker! I much prefer how you mixed the vocals here than in your previous track, and everything is clear and pronounced. Some specific things I loved about this would be the thick vocal harmonies, dreamy texture on the guitar, 2:53's rhythmic change, and of course the beautiful lead vocal performance.

Like I was saying to midimachine in his review, finding issues in these tracks was a huge problem for me, even after over a dozen listens to each. I eventually settled on complaining about the fact that this is... I dunno, safe? If I had to compare this to the other tracks you've submitted to the contest, it's decidedly more straightforward, with a cookie-cutter pop structure, standard uplifting key change at the end, and mostly simple composition. I hardly care because of how WELL you executed everything, though. This is me nitpicking a track which I consider among the best that this year's contest has to offer.

Truly brilliant work to you all, not just for this track but for the five excellent tracks you've graced our ears with. Congrats on being the first team in NGADM history to land first place, and thanks for the wonderful music!

--

SCORE: 9.8/10

bassfiddlejones responds:

Step, my man. It has been quite a journey, and we're super ecstatic to have even made it this far let alone take the win! I agree with you that (generally) the composition aspect is more simple than some other stuff we've done (I mean, we didn't use 3 key signatures and 5 time signatures like Vanquish the Night, haha). But we put probably an equal amount of time into it. Josh actually mixed this on his studio monitors this time (he had been using slightly above average computer/laptop speakers for the previous rounds since his studio is no longer in his home). Thanks for all the work you put into this Step! (even putting LunacyEcho's track up on the front page instead of yours, :P I see what you did there)

It has been an honor!

This is an NGADM Round 5 Review

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Hot damn, this is one of my favourite tracks of the whole contest. You played it pretty safe by going back to your track that had the most success this year - your Round 3 track - and making something in a similar style, but this time I think you nailed it even further. That melody is brilliant, and I cannot overstate this. It's catchy, it's memorable, it's fun, and it has a super nice modulation to the aeolian mode at the end of it. Synths/sounds are, once again, impeccable. The sawtooth synths you used for the lead sound are especially good. Again, the vibrato and pitch bending you put on them just quadrupled their enjoyment factor. Sick reverse kick at 1:40 too!

I listened to this track and bassfiddlejones/joshgawaldo's track at least 15 times each, and finding issues in both of them was a nightmare. I mean really, the only thing I can point out is that the ending is abrupt and lame. And that bloody air horn, man. Was so tempted to dock a point for it. It gave me the fright of my life the first time I heard it with headphones on, while walking to uni. I nearly mlg360noscope'd my underwear.

Honestly, this is beyond fantastic. My favourite track from you this contest, although you've been keeping a VERY strong pace throughout. The final matchup could've gone either way. So yeah, thanks a million for taking part, posting such awesome music, and providing many donks and ":v" faces. Congrats on the second place!

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SCORE: 9.9/10

midimachine responds:

it's been real. and hey, thanks for judging!

This is NGADM Round 4 Review.

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It's a shame that we never quite heard a proper collaboration between you two, but both of you have individually created some truly spectacular pieces, with this being no exception. The composition in this is nothing short of breathtaking. You took an era/style and captured it so beautifully, with suitable instrumentation, tasteful harmonies, gorgeous melodies, smooth flow, and a thoughtful and sensible compositional structure to boot. As always, your samples and usage thereof is flawless. The portamento on those strings is expressive and fitting. Oh, and I just wanted to highlight 1:07 in this track, which is one of my favourite parts. The transition leading to it was brilliant, and the texture you create with the gentle harp noodling in the background is wonderful. When you highlight the melody at 1:28 with those warm strings I got chills. Really, this is excellent stuff.

Sorry to repeat what others have said but yeah, the only reason I docked 0.3 would be production value. It's not bad by any means, but I agree completely with MetalRenard that the frontal strings were a bit too dry. There's also some weird glitchy stuff going on with the note release now and again, but I know you're aware of that and didn't lower my score for that.

It's a breathtaking cinematic piece that truly pays respect to the 70s Hollywood era. Incredible work on this. In other circumstances this would be an easy matchup winner, but unfortunately your opponents churned out one beast of a track too, which is why this just about didn't make the cut. Still, it was great having both of you around for the contest.

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SCORE: 9.7/10

This is an NGADM Round 4 Review

--

This is certainly quite a departure from the kind of music you've submitted so far. Despite this new, decidedly more kawaii approach, there's still a lot of the stuff that bore such sky-high scores from me in the past, such as the clear, punchy production value, fantastic choice of synths, and highly melodic content. You've got some neat vocals, a solid structure, fantastic mixing, and excellent sound design. It's really solid stuff.

My main issue is that this isn't quite as novel as I would've hoped it to be. The main melody can get a bit crass and obnoxious, and there wasn't really enough variety and novelty to make this live up to your previous submissions. I was personally really happy to hear that trademark synth solo of yours, since it was a brief respite from the cheesy pop stuff, and was more akin to your previous work. Not that I didn't enjoy the rest of the song, but I think a lot of the "wow factor" of this track comes from that solo haha.

Anyway, still an awesome submission. Good luck in the finals!

This is an NGADM Round 4 Review.

--

When I saw that you two were paired against SoundChris and JacobCadmus, I knew that, given the stupid amounts of musical talent you all have, either group would have to churn out a true masterpiece to beat the other. This is a true masterpiece, deserving of probably one of the highest scores in NGADM history.

You weren't lying when you said that this was in a different vein from the other content you two have created during the course of this contest. Not only is the genre different, but even the entire approach. If I didn't know any better, I would have not guessed that this submission was made by the same people who made your previous submissions. This is a lot more "grounded" in its structure, in that it doesn't veer off into crazy time/key signatures and totally new and distinctive sections like your other stuff does. There's also, of course, the usage of vocals, which is a new addition to your NGADM 2015 repertoire. Despite this completely new direction, you still excel, dare I say even more than you've excelled in past submissions.

The melodies and chords are so memorable and likeable. Probably one of my favourite things about this track would be how solid the composition is. Another one of my favourite things would have to be the performances. I knew your (talking to bassfiddlejones) wife had a scary good singing voice, but what I didn't know is that you were hiding an awesome singing voice all this time yourself! All the singing is fantastic, really. The parts where a bunch of vocals come in sound incredibly full and warm. And Josh is really shredding it on that banjo, wow.

Of course, there was also a bunch of other stuff I enjoyed, such as the switch to double time, the lyrics, the production, the sound of that percussion, and so on, but to avoid this review getting too long, let me just get the nitpicks over with. I think the vocals are too mid-heavy, and some of the mixing and editing on them was a bit wonky (such as 2:03's voice being too distant in the mix or some parts being out of sync). One stylistic complaint is that I really would have liked to hear an instrument solo here. This is more personal preference than a legitimate reason to dock some points, but I did find myself hoping to hear some killer banjo riffs take the spotlight around halfway.

Anyhow, you've well and truly blown the judging team away. Fantastic work to all of you. The question is, how will you top this for the final round?

--

SCORE: 9.8/10

bassfiddlejones responds:

Step! Thank you for the wonderful review - we are tickled that you guys enjoyed this song so much. Hopefully much more to come for Newgrounds!

This is an NGADM Round 4 Review

--

Agh, I hate it when you submit short/unfinished stuff like this. I can definitely empathise with you on the writer's block/technical issues (to be honest, those are the main reasons why I don't think I'd take part in an NGADM if I weren't busy hosting it haha), but at the same time it's certainly a disappointment to see all that wasted potential, especially after the beast of a track you churned out for the last round.

Having said that, it'd be a heresy to leave this unfinished. There's an unexpectedly large amount of atmosphere in what you've presented here, no doubt thanks to your copious use of reverb/delay. The sounds/synths in particular are all extremely pleasant to listen to, and on top of that the production has to be some of the tightest you've given us so far! The part at 0:30 sounds so crisp, and that bass in particular is absolutely great. Melodically, this also doesn't fall short, but it's essentially a set of rhythmically-similar melodic phrases repeated a bunch of times. It definitely lays the foundation for a ton of awesome melodic development, though!

I've run out of things to say for this. It's unfinished, no doubt, and, as much as I'd have liked to reflect a compensation for that in my score, I'm afraid I had to dock a lot of points. Make no mistake that this is the start to something great, but it has a way to go before it gets there. Either way, it's been a pleasure having you in the contest!

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SCORE: 7.8/10

This is an NGADM Round 3 Review

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Hey aliaspharow! This review is WAY overdue. My apologies; I left it out accidentally and only now did it hit me that I have yet to review this.

Anyway, onto the review. I have to say; way to go for totally upping your game! This is my favourite track from you so far this NGADM. It's got all the qualities I enjoy about your music, except now they're presented in a super coherent and perfectly-structured ~4 minutes of earcandy heaven. Seriously, this sounds so much more like a finished and thoughtfully-structured track than your other NGADM submissions. Each section leads naturally to the next, and when we finish listening to the track, there's a feeling of satisfaction and conclusion, which is certainly a mark of a well-structured piece of music. Of course, on top of that, you keep up your pace of stellar production and beautiful melodic content.

I actually don't have much to complain about in this track. It's a super solid submission with everything I look for in a drum'n'bass track. The sole problem I want to talk about lies within the second half of the track, which feels kind of static and unvaried. You lead up to 2:00 nicely, but after that the song stays at exactly the same energy level till the end. Another break before the final climax could fix this, or (preferably) you could've increased the energy levels even more, adding more layers of intricacy and melodic content.

All in all, this is impressive to say the least. Wonderful job on this!

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SCORE: 9.0/10

This is an NGADM Round 3 Review

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SKYE. Holy crap I'm late for this review. Sorry about that! I forgot I hadn't sorted out all of my Round 3 reviews.

So, here's what I think about this track. First off, I need to commend you on those absolutely insane drums. It's times like this when your whole "write a whole song in one pattern" method shines, because the amount of variety, subtleties, and rhythmic changes in your percussion is beyond ridiculous, in a good way. Your drums are pleasantly stimulating and rewarding to follow, and even sound great, samples-wise! That extent of technicality and intricacy also carried over to your melodic stuff, which is, for all intents and purposes, an astoundingly enjoyable concoction of organised chaos. I especially love the melodic content you threw in during that acoustic guitar solo, which was an unexpected but welcomed veer into some surprisingly emotional and touching composition.

So this is definitely a fun listen, but I do have my issues with it, issues that were summed up pretty nicely by my fellow judges. I feel like there was more of a focus on technical appeal, and less focus on sonic/musical appeal. I'm not a fan of your leads, and I'm missing the crazy sound design that your other tracks excelled at. The melodies were certainly an engaging listen, but aside from that one acoustic guitar solo, none were all that memorable, and didn't communicate much to me beyond "look how technical I can be". This isn't as much of an issue as I make it sound, but certainly something worth mentioning.

Overall, you have a killer track here, as always. It's obviously a shame to see you go, but you put up one hell of a fight. Bravo, and thanks for all the awesome music!

Hey! My name's Stephan Wells, and I'm a musician, mixing engineer, programmer, proofreader, gamer, aspiring game developer, audio moderator, and former host of the NGADM. Thanks to Youkos for the user image and profile icon!

Stephan Wells @Step

23, Male

Student

Utrecht University

Malta

Joined on 11/4/07

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