Made my heart feel like it was soaring out of my chest! What an experience. You always create the most evocative pieces. Thank you.
Fantastic! Starts off like something Sondheim might write. And I hear that Glenn Miller, for sure! Right off the bat, this is playful, and sounds heavily influenced by a showtune – I adore it! The way you guys successfully have the instruments play off each other is just so magical. I can imagine this scene where there’s a huge party going on, and some swanky folks are there drinking and dancing with boas everywhere.
I can tell you had some mixing issues, and I know how time constraints can be, so I didn’t want to take off too much for that, but the instruments did end up sounding slightly muffled. The saxophone chords might have benefited from some mid-tone clarity as they got slightly overshadowed by the trumpets.
I absolutely love the brush set you have going on with the percussion. Doesn’t take away from the strength of the main instruments, but adds just enough mood to really make this a standout jazz piece. Your piano is also on-point, as usual. Very swanky and supportive of the main instrumentation, and the glissando you implement as a background element is key to making the piece feel open, like it could go anywhere. The motif that you have throughout the piece is quite a pleasant one, and I’m glad that it was revisited near the end, too! Great work tying that all in together.
I realize that, due to some technical issues (grrr, technology!) you had work with what you had and I’m so sorry to hear about crashing! This is a great track by any stretch, and it’s obvious how much thought was put into it. Seriously impressive, you worked around all of the kinks and made a very professional-sounding jazz piece! It felt like I was being transported through time. You created excellent imagery despite setbacks - well done!
NGADM Final Round Score: 9.8
This is just gold, and something entirely new from you guys. I can tell you were really exploring a lot with this piece, and you went to so many different places with it – ended up sounding amazing. Your mix is just a little muddy, but the production value overall is mindblowing. The guitars sound freakin’ amazing! I so wish I had your skills, envious to the Nines! Love the chords and progressions that you chose.
The chorus is extremely memorable and I’ve had the song on repeat because I love singing along with it! Right in my range. The vocals sound wonderful, and you did a great job mixing them; the harmonies add a very nice layer to the track, too, so well done!
That guitar solo, though… Simply awesome. I just sit there with my mouth open every time I hear it.
I really wish the song had ended on a different note – that is, maybe a more drawn out note? It seems like you ran with the solo, only to run into a brick wall. I can see where you might have run out of time; just would have liked to hear it extended or given some closure! :)
Excellent vocals, my gosh. You have an excellent compressor on them, and it really works nicely and evens out the flow of the guitar. Percussion sounds great as well, I’m digging the cymbals on either side of the stereo. Well done!
Conclusively, I should not be surprised that you guys can just pull off any genre you go for – such wonderful composers and I’m thrilled to see what other music you might make together! This is a great piece and it’s cool to see some major branching out.
NGADM Round Four Score: 9.8
I’m so blown away by your vocals. Seriously, love how you focused on them throughout the song – I’ve never heard you sing like this, and like everyone is saying, it’s very reminiscent of Muse in the way that you leap from note to note. You have a really great quality to your voice, I’d love to hear more singing in future tunes, too!
Your intro with the little dings (bells? Glockenspiel?) was the best, I love those dang dings. Sets up a great feeling to the whole piece. I want to seriously just start running and take off and fly into the clouds with this.
The synths here are amazing, too. All sequences between vox are beautifully mixed, as usual, and I enjoy how you transitioned into them effortlessly. Everything blends together very well, especially that one breathy-sounding instrument in the background.
My only, singular gripe is that I think your vox went a little haywire at times. Did you use an autotuner on this? Otherwise, I think you have a wonderful timbre and pleasant sound to everything and it makes the song very happy-sounding.
Your beats are excellent as well, I get hype just listening to them and I want to dance around everywhere. Really enjoy how you reduced the bass in your vocal portions to really reflect the singing and balance out the mix. Actually, there isn’t a heavy emphasis on the bass at all, which only adds to the more ethereal element of the track. Quite like it.
Overall, this is just wonderful and something I don’t think I’ve ever really heard from you, especially vocal-wise – like I mentioned, it would be fantastic to hear more of your singing! Great work Garlagan!
NGADM Final Round Score: 9.9
Can't believe this review Elspeth. Thank you so much!
I think I get what you mean by the vox going haywire. Is it the kinda fast vibrato at some parts? I didn't use autotuner but I did fine tune some bits that i got too lazy to re-sing (didn't have much time either).
By the way that score is surreal!
This is NUTS. You said you don’t do orchestral, but this is some quality stuff for not really having it be your main genre!
I enjoyed very much when you added the percussion! It was beautiful instrumentation, you mixed everything fantastically, and your strings sound very pretty here. I would say after a while they do get a bit MIDI-sounding, like an older synthesizer, but still, great harmonies and composition work here.
2:04 stands out to me as something that should be expounded upon. My goodness, that was such an amazing piano doodle it caught me off-guard, and you didn’t disappoint with the chords following. Reminded me a lot of an anime soundtrack, and the way you chose to end the song is without a doubt perfect to me – lingering, a bit sad, but soft and with a sense of closure!
My only gripe here is that your instruments felt too quantized to be natural instruments, which in the case of cinema, it’s desirable to have that “real full orchestra” feel. Lets the listener know that it is indeed a human being with emotion playing the music. Hard to do, of course, when you have only VSTs to work with (cough… ME TOO… cough), so I think you really nailed it with what you had.
The composition is slightly flowery, but I can hear all the trills and details you put into the end of your bars, which sometimes gives it a very storybook feel. I can tell you were dedicated to making this sound appropriate for the orchestral genre and I think you did excellently.
Again, not bad for never writing orchestral, friend! :D
NGADM Round 4 Score: 8.9
Excellent startup; you’re building a very intense atmosphere here! Love the chords, and how it melts into this main singing synth that carries the melody. Very catchy tune, as well; I found myself humming it the other day after listening for the first time!
I feel the strongest points of this song are your seamless transitions, as well as your amazing mix and production quality. My favorite part is absolutely 2:14, which reminds me heavily of the Matrix soundtrack – nice and dark, somewhat gritty, and technically, perfect!
Oh gosh, those chords at 3:11 are just gorgeous. You did a wonderful job giving the song a sort of floating sensation, like we were being in lifted into space, and I love the drums that come in at 3:40. Very nice backbeat here!
I love the tunes and the way you mixed everything, but I do feel it gets slightly repetitive after awhile. I would have liked to hear maybe a different instrument with the same melody as the first synth, to vary it up a little! Still, it’s a great sound and my ears enjoyed the heck out of it.
NGADM Round 4 Score: 9
Really glad you liked it! Thanks a lot for the detailed review Elspeth!
Wow, your chords here at the beginning are so intense. Such unique chord progression – it’s rare to hear something like this, and then, my god, you build up into this fantastic adventurous landscape of a track.
I can tell you went through the song as a story; I can definitely hear the different chapters. My only issue with the piece is that the mixing is a little muddy. Sometimes I feel the brass could have been a little brighter, or the bass a little lower in volume.
Favorite part? The sequence that begins at 2:50, where you seem to revisit the beginning but now we’re on some strange alien planet and not sure what’s happening next. Your choir is absolutely stunning. Goosebumps! Oh, those chords at 2:57. I can’t even tell you how brilliantly implemented that was. Outstanding. Again, goosebumps. And thank you for getting back to the theme at 3:21, it almost made me giddy to hear it again. What an excellent placement of the guitar. It sounds like it DESERVES to be up there, after everything we’ve gone through together!
Excellent ending and closure. I enjoy the horns that go up trill-like; feels a bit like Jurassic Park.
When I first heard this, I was certainly not expecting a Tron-like, Saharan-desert sounding song. As always, you surprise and delight! I’m so thrilled you guys went with a sci-fi cinematic piece. Not nearly enough of those on NG and you nailed it. If you can rework the mixing to where the main melodies sound a little clearer, I can’t even. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. My ears would just detach and explode with sparkly magic.
NGADM Round 3 Score: 9.7
Great intro. Soft, intense, emotional.
I felt throughout the song that I was waiting for something to happen. Nothing particularly spectacular happened, but this is an excellent cinematic piece, and I can totally picture the scene here.
I felt you could have used some more backing strings in the beginning, prior to 2:22. The melody kind of droned on after a bit and some lower harmonies might have given flavor to the “death of a beloved character” sequence.
And then wow, never mind, 2:22 is freakin’ beautiful. I love the vox you have overlaying everything. Very pretty and ethereal; gives us a sense of sadness, but perseverance as well. Most of your tracks are like this. You start off with a story, a main character that has forged his/her way through trials, and eventually we get to the conclusion that ends much like the intro started. Chords are beautiful here, but I would have liked to hear more of you going off the main path progression-wise, rather than “D, then C, then B flat, then C again”. It left me wanting more from the instruments.
Awesome emotes from the male choir here. Is this character training to be a samurai? Sounds like they’re grunting in another language. Might be obvious, actually – considering this person had a father who gave them a blade, I’m guessing samurai. Maybe wizard.
Very nostalgic and evocative. Would have liked more deviation from the normal chord progression; spot-on mixing.
NGADM Round 3 Score: 8.5
Starting off with that awesome percussion work – first thing I noticed, it sounds great! Very driven, colorful, and energetic.
Your composition is excellent. Absolutely stunning work – but the way it was presented just felt off to me. Kind of like having a rare steak in front of you, but only being able to eat it through a straw. I would have loved to hear live instruments. That would have really given the song its oomph. The saxophone in particular became very 90’s-Casio sounding after a while and dampened the originality of the composition. I know you guys had to make do without live instrumentation, and I totally understand how difficult it can be to work with live recording, but the VSTs do make the song less organic-sounding and greatly impact the overall tonality. One of the main reasons I love jazz alone is for the way the instrument is played, and it's so very hard to replicate that on a keyboard.
Awesome organ, though! The chords are great here. I can tell you guys went for a prog jazz piece and, as I said, you nailed it, compositional-wise. Do I hear a little Thelonious Monk in those progressions? Wonderfully executed and cleanly played.
The other reviews have said your melody was a bit aimless, but I don’t think this song really needed a melody. I felt your constant variation of instruments and chords was enough to maintain great interest – I was always wondering what was coming down the pipe next and your notes never disappointed.
This is a track that just bubbles with creativity. I hope you revisit it with live instruments; that would be amazing to hear!
NGADM Round 3 Score: 7.9
Hey Elspeth, glad you could join the party! :)
"Starting off with that awesome percussion work – first thing I noticed, it sounds great! Very driven, colorful, and energetic."
I'll have to pass on your words to Patrick, but thanks!
"Your composition is excellent. Absolutely stunning work"
"but the way it was presented just felt off to me. Kind of like having a rare steak in front of you, but only being able to eat it through a straw."
"[Stuff about live recordings and the sax being bad]"
Lol, yeah, can't really review this song with mentioning the elephant in the room, can we? I'll certainly agree that having real instruments and/or actual humanization is what MAKES this kind of song, so I can't really argue much on the matter. Since this was out of our control though, no real point in debating on the matter.
"The chords are great here. I can tell you guys went for a prog jazz piece and, as I said, you nailed it, compositional-wise"
Quite honestly, even though our respective tropes would seem to indicate otherwise, most of the really jazzy bits were done by Skye, while I put my efforts into the more proggy/funky bits. I think most of the credit here needs to go to Skye, and he started the whole concept and pooped out the intro in less than a day!
"Do I hear a little Thelonious Monk in those progressions?"
I can't really speak for Skye for obvious reasons, but Monk's always been a big inspiration in my music, so I wouldn't really be surprised if you can hear some resemblances. Our main inspiration though, was the Brecker Brothers, specifically "Some Skunk Funk", which you may or may not have heard of.
"[stuff about melody]"
I'm glad you perceived it a bit differently than the others. While I'll certainly agree that our song lacks a consistent thematic element, I'd argue that it's not really something that's very present in both the jazz and the prog world in general.
Both of the genres have the common element of horizontal composition, which rely more on movement rather than a centralized theme.
Many thanks for the kind words, and I'll keep you in the know when we get to put out a final version with actual instruments.
You always stun me with your amazing riffs! Everything is clean, your mix is very tightly rounded, and your direction here is excellent. I felt it got a bit lacking in energy around 2:20, and I realize this is because your main guitar wasn’t there, but it felt good to take a break and give the rhythm a little go.
The thing is here, I was looking for a melody and something that made the track particularly memorable. Although it’s an excellent song and your shredding is INSANE, I couldn’t remember it afterwards. I would have liked a cleaner ending, too, although I know you went through some struggles during the comp and so I didn’t take off any marks for it.
So very energetic! My favorite part is 1:15, where you sound a little like Opeth with your progression here. Nice transitions, too; you give the song a chance to take a breath and then dive right in again. I’m impressed by all the ways you make the guitar sing afterwards.
I do end up feeling slightly antsy by the percussion here, as you seem to concentrate on the snare often and a constant hi-hat that drills the song. However, it’s necessary to highlight your instruments; just would have liked some variety on the percussion.
Great mix, awesome riffs, well done!
NGADM Round 3 Score: 9
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