668 posts since 7 Apr, 2004, from Magrathea, The Universe
Things have been very quiet on the review front, so I will hopefully get things moving.
Note that these are personal opinions only. I have tried to be honest but constructive. Please don't take any criticism personally.
These reviews are in the order my mp3 player queued them up - I think in alphabetical order by track title. There is one .ogg submission that my mp3 player won't play, so I will tackle that separately. Only enough time to review the first 10 tracks. The remainder will follow in due course.
hellfog - Back and Forth
A wonderfully relaxed piece of classical guitar that is well played. The background pads blend beautifully, and the simply played piano adds variety and interest, while being in total keeping with the rest of the track. I really enjoy listening to this - again and again and again.
beanpole - Bedroom Angst
Nice intro, with well recorded acoustic guitars. This then leads into a well-structured pop song. The double-tracked vocals during the verse didn't quite work for me - I think I would have preferred a single well sung track - and the vocals were slightly muddy in the mix. The double tracking and octaving in the chorus does work really well though and creates the "lift" that you would expect. The lyrics are OK, although having a song about having difficulty writing a song is not particularly original and slightly twee. The snare and hats on the drums seem a little weak in the mix (for my taste), and the ending is pretty sudden. Overall though this is a very pleasant listen.
D.H. Miltz - Drift
Creative noodling with weird background noises - definitely unusual. While the laid-back guitar work fits the description of "drift", I found the background noises (the dog in particular) to be very distracting and I couldn't quite work out what the intent was in including them (other than to disturb the drifting). Another very sudden ending. Hard to work this one out, and I didn't really connect with it as a result.
bzur - Morning Bells
Great piano work in this one, with little trills and great dynamic variation and touch. The bells work in harmony with the piano nicely, and the other instrumentation is beautifully arranged and mixed. This is a piece that embraces you, destresses you and carries you away floating into another more relaxed world. I like the way it builds throughout, and then lets you down gently at the end. Simply great stuff.
Land of Trees - Broodkillphill
One of the more bizarre tracks this month - definitely creatively original. Sounds like a string ensemble got caught in a short-circuiting electrical cabinet on a space ship. It's not something that I would have queued up for repeated listening, but I could imagine this working as theme music for some cop show/thriller/urban drama with violence involved.....
Klawire - One Way Out
Interesting to see a number of orchestral tracks submitted this month - perhaps a potential theme for a future contest? This piece builds to a nice crescendo at the end, but in the early parts (up to about 1:20) is let down somewhat by string parts that aren't quite dramatic or emotive enough to carry the piece, and don't quite fit with the dramatic drum sounds that build behind it - and the guitar doesn't really fit in the mix either - particularly right at the start. From 1:20 onwards however, this is a really strong piece. The choir adds strength and humanity, and the faster string parts fit much more comfortably with the dramatic percussion. I could listen to those last 45 seconds over and over again....
shangsean - Pain
Another more experimental piece. It really is great to see the variety that this contest produces. I like the way this one builds, and then drops out about 1:40. There is an interesting blend of sounds and instruments. Not perhaps quite as painful as the title might suggest - for me it more brings out mental and visual images of slavery to the industrial era - a wasteland of large factories full of noise, smoke and dust - eventually collapsing into oblivion. Good stuff.
kryptonaut - Retrospective 2012
Full of luscious bass playing and polyrhythms, this one is definitely on continuous repeat. I love the way this starts out simply and builds in complexity and interest as it goes on before relaxing into the end. The contrapuntal keyboard sounds interplay wonderfully with each other - and that bass playing.....yum! A crisp clear mix with everything beautifully distinct. Masterful stuff.
ClaRago - Roundabout Waltz
When this first started I got all excited - let's have me some jaaaaaaazzz! Nice jazzy piano chords and complex jazzy drum rhythms hint at wonderfulness to come. However it turns out that this isn't quite as jazzy as I thought it would be. Sure there are some good jazz chords in here, but everything is QUANTISED - EEK! And there is too much "on the beat" playing towards the end - nowhere near enough complexity and syncopation. There is none of that improvisational jazzy feel. After a promising start, the drums (which otherwise are excellent) are overpowered by a repetive motif played on the ride cymbal that just ain't jazz. Very promising, but not quite there yet.
spirulence - Space Explorer
This has a cool groove to it, and a gorgeous sub bass. Well structured and interesting and with a good mix. I enjoy the laid back feel and the warm sounds that just beg you to close your eyes and drift away with the music. This stands up to repeated listening. Very enjoyable indeed.
Time is an illusion - lunchtime doubly so.