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Official '20 NGADM finals review

I'm surprised by the large amount of castle crashers vibe. I don't expect to think that's what you were going for, but it really had a sense of nostalgia for coming across that way. It has that lighthearted dance feel, and it has a great selection of sound choices used to create the full atmosphere. I definitely got the cartoony feel of a pirate like adventure, and there's some imagery of, again, a castle crashers style pirate level that I really would enjoy clubbing some baddies to. In terms of the writing though it did feel a little stagnant (also fade out lol really). Especially in the bassline. I liked the rhythm, but I would have liked to have seen a little more variation. I wonder how much I would have paid attention to the chord progression too if you'd focus on changing up the bass a little bit, but I also notice that the chord progression stays about the same (barring some key changes). As I pay attention to the melodies, there are tons of scotch snaps everywhere lol. The melodies themselves aren't good earworms since they move kinda fast, so instead of having a motiff or theme in the composition, there's more of an emphasis on keeping the feel similar with the style each melody has and what instruments are involved with it. 2:17 is a nice breakup with what you have going on here, which is great since it's a refreshing break, but I'm also dissapointed because I feel like you could have done more with that. Like I would have loved to have heard a melody developed in that section and drum breakdown before going back to the normal groove (by the way, the guitar gives me an Infected Mushroom feel there). Which on the topic of structure that also circles back to the bassline thing, the energy feels flat throughout the whole thing. It makes it come across with the sense of little progression. This is also maybe why the 2:17 feels extra special too.

What I think you did a lot better on though is the instruments and sounds you used. I question the drums a bit because they're surrounded by so many "real" instruments lol (aside from the VGM synths). The strings are super lighthearted and lush, there's a crazy cool amount of electronic stuff that really meshes with everything you got here, but the drums sound like older cheap dance drums lol. I don't hate them though, because I feel like they add to the nostalgia "Castle Crushers" feel like retro Newgrounds. I don't know if that's what you were going for, but for the benefit of the doubt, I'll run with that. However, I love picking out all the stuff you have in this. Like how you mesh the harpsichord with VGM sounds, the distorted guitar with the "squishy" bass, the marimba duetting the violins (or violas???), there's just a lot of cool details. Like the slammed drums at 3:37 is another cool detail I like, as well as the violin runs at 4:07. Just to listen to the sounds and details is an audible treat, and it's really fun to pick them out.

Yeah, really cool. I'm glad to see you here in the final rounds, and I liked what you have.

PredatorMusic responds:

Thank you so much for the constructive criticism!

That is exactly what I was aiming for, a cartoony, CC, inspiring, adventure-themed song! Glad that I could transmit it in the end.
Thank you for pointing out the VGM + Orchestral + Breakbeat mashup! Little details that most of the time are not noticed.

And yeah, I think my biggest weakness is still the basslines, and the chord progressions, I think I got used to do the same progressions as WF. I'll work on that!

Thank you again! <3

Official '20 NGADM Finals review

The title on it's own sounds super poetic. And the beginning of the intro is exactly what I expected from you combined with this title. However, the tone it started taking through I couldn't tell what to expect so I'm surprised with anything you do. This hits the right emotions right on the head too with the composition. There are so many details, and there's a good handful of orchestral things that I'm not surprised about, but you have a ton of digital / electronic stuff that's added in that just works. It all just works. All around this is just super epic. Out of all the pieces this one carries the most emotion and just stands out to me the best. I love the super quirky guitar that just sticks out at 0:45. It sounds goofy and dry, but once things start jumping in it works. I love how rhythmic the 3:00 section is. There's a cubic-ton of detail there too that just meshes together so where. Like I was totally surprised that there was something electronic there when it started coming in. The choir is just fantastic. The voices and how everything shouts together make it super climactic and powerful. Ugh there's just so much good writing in this.

I love the production in this too because you have things that are super dry, but they just work. I probably would have messed it up if I were trying to mix this because I'm surprised by how well it works lol. Not to say that everything is dry. You add in just the right texture like on the strings or like when the choir first starts up. I cannot get over how much I like the 3:00 section.

I think this one's my favorite. I love you Albe <3

AlbeGian responds:

Aaaaaaaa tysm for the kind words man!! It makes me really happy that my works could cause an impact this big in people's ears and (hopefully) hearts, it really does. Again, really glad you liked it!!

Official '20 NGADM Finals review

The writing style is so unique but it feels familiar. Maybe it's the synths you're using, maybe it's some of the melodic writing, I'm not sure but I don't hear stuff like this enough. You've also managed to make something that's high energy, but definitely not tiring. The melodies are super complex too but also still fun to listen to, and I find myself struggling what to say because it's really good at multiple levels. One thing I really appreciate is that you don't shy away from messing with the time signatures and bringing across interrupting measures. 3:00 is a great example, and you throw them into the structure like nothing and they flow well. There's a bunch of spots like it too where you kinda have instruments that shout at the end of the phrase without like 3:47, 0:48, 2:38, there's more spots than I could mention that make the composition super complex and I thoroughly enjoy. Also your fantastic use of harmonies that's just everywhere and in everything. It's such a great example of how just about everything is used together to highlight the main idea of the song, and not just harmonies that ride along with the melody. The arpeggiation at 0:35 is littered in so many fitting spots, my favorite being how it gets introduced leading into 3:00 and quickly becomes the main voice of that section. There's also details like the strings at 1:04 that are a slower reprise of the melody that they're directly referencing to. This is a compositional feast lol. The only minor critique is coming from a drummer is that I feel like the drums could have done a few things to help emphasis attacking or shouting chords instead of straight grooves in the main sections. Like 0:50 ish and the 3:00 section.

As for production, I don't think this could be any better. Each sound works together so well to the main mix, and I love the texture each one has. On their own they might not sound like much, but the way you use them feels so fresh and unique. It's also super clean and polished too. Someone could say they sound cheap, but they add to the charm so much, like the drums and the brass for example. I don't think anything else could have worked with what you have. I'm also really glad you stuck with this style for this round because it's what I wanted to hear and man did you deliver. I'd love to be able to make "videogame music" that sounded like this. Yes it's indisputably retro, but doesn't sound archaic or dated.

Love it. Can't get enough of it.

Mackievellian responds:

Great, thank you. This is a lovely critique, man. Makes me feel GOOD. You know, I thought about sitting in the drummers chair while writing them and I'm thinking, a drummer would put a fill here and here, over there. But I missed some spots... Was thinking mainly for the adding attack to the lone brass sections when they're carrying the melody.

Thanks for your time, my man.

Official '20 NGADM Finals review

Super open with negative space. Before I get into anything, I feel like there were times that the production balance leaned towards the left ear, but that's the only actual complaint I could make

I love hearing the physical keys. I normally wouldn't but they really add to the atmosphere in this song and can be taken into some metaphorical devices. I don't think I even realized you had other synths and sounds going with the piano at first sense I was listening to the keys themselves so much. What I like about your style in this, is that there's less melody writing, and more using the chord progression to speak for itself. Great example I noticed is when the chimes came in and really emphasized how you're using the harmonies in this again more so than a melody.

In terms of structure, I noticed how the end was lower octaves than the beginning, which made me pay attention to later how you've pulled across the emotions throughout the structure. The first half of the song with the way it's written it comes across a little more hopeful, until the middle section and it's realizations comes through. In which case that's where the meat of the story happens. It somewhat conflicts with the feelings introduced, but not ignored. They develop as they compliment each other leading to a crescendo of sound and instruments. Which that all leads to the end where you have a reprise that's similar to the first but in a more realized and full way. It resolves, but still treads on with the familiar gusto from first. Super neat.

For production / performance, again it's super cool I think you got the sound of the piano action captured in this. What I like about this though is that it's not just a piano solo when it likely could have been. There's small but not insignificant details that really bring forward the emotions that you're trying to bring forward, and they all work together to form what's central to the timestamp. The more I dig into this with each listen, the more I appreciate each element that was brought in, and I can see why you placed them where they are. Each one brings in a new flavor or characteristic that only adds to the piece and never crowds it out. Granted most of the time we're listening to only a few things happening, which btw never felt empty.


Phonometrologist responds:

My man, I’m impressed on how well you’re able to hear the meaning between the notes and articulate what’s happening accurately. Great read and thank you for making the time.
Just a couple points that you already mentioned that I also wanted to elaborate on:
I found that for me personally, less melody and more focus on the harmonic progressions will give a more open interpretation of the meaning that the listener can ascribe to. I think melody is more important to music universally speaking as anyone with a voice can carry a tune. But less of that leaves the piece wanting, and I prefer to have my music not to speak too much. Doesn’t mean that melody doesn’t exist in the form of chord positions. Voice leadings in harmony are considered melodies. It’s just not as obvious, and I prefer that the listener would listen for it as opposed to just hearing it.
Finally, I appreciate you recognizing the overall contour of the piano in a descending order. I prefer to view music representing that characteristic in life that all shall experience. That repetitious trait in all music and the inevitable event that happens to all is its ending. How shall we find our resolve? As time speeds up and our life becomes a fog, often the meaning will become realized on the other side of affliction.

Official NGADM '20 Round 3 Review

Serious Maplestory vibes with that piano part. I like that this song is a different style than what I'm used to hearing from you, however it does come across as a general dance/house song. You do have the same chord structure going on throughout the whole song which is kinda disappointing, and even when you have a key change it's still the same progression. Really the only time it changes is at the 1:30 break which also is the only time there's any energy dynamics too. I do like that it's a fun happy upbeat tune though. It gives a good summer anthem vibe, and compositionally there's a decent amount licks and things that are fun to coast along through the song with. For example the flute at 0:47 is really fun melody to listen to that just pops up and then it's gone lol.

The production sounds like a finished product and I can tell most of the hours spent in this song was trying to nail the mix down. Most everything felt like it was in the right spot, but the piano is interesting because it's being used as both the melody and the background at the same time. So the volume it's at makes sense if it was the accompanying instrument, but there's a good amount of times that the piano is carrying the melody it seems and seems to be a little too much in the background for what it should be. However, it's pretty clean for the most part, oh and I just noticed that you have a crowd sound FX on my third listen. The white noise risers fit in with what you're doing to.

A happy fun little tune that's not bad to jam with, but a little too much of a stereotypical summer house song for this late in the contest.

Composition 8.5
Production 8.5
Sound Design/Performance 9
Structure 6
Creativity 7
Total 78/100

Official NGADM '20 Round 3 Review

Man, that mix is really clean. This feels a bit more minimalistic for you and I'm really digging it, and it feels a bit more aggressive to at the drops. The basses do seem to crowd out some of the other elements a little bit at the drop at time, but again it's clean in the sense that there's good frequency control and making sure everything fits in the space it needs to be. There's very little muddiness happening in the low end, and the track never really feels empty. Your textures feel simultaneously water like and metallic which again shows how well you can bring together both organic instruments and synthetic sounds. My favorite example is what you have at 02:40. It's so cool because the synth you have feels like it's a sonification of what light looks like reflecting off of gently stirred water, and it fits so naturally with the flute giving a melody over top of it. As usual, the sound design and production elements of your song are a treat.

It took me a few listens to try to get what you were doing in terms of your composition and structure. It sounds like outside of the drops that you do have a musical idea that you play around with, but it gets heavily reprised. Kinda neat, but I am a little sad you don't play with it as much during the drops. The melody at 0:26 doesn't seem to get used outside of that section, and especially on a first listen it doesn't feel like there's a strong tonal connection that connects throughout the song. I'm not saying what you've done is wrong, because it does a good job of sounding huge and complex, but I think it would have been a bit more interesting to have a musical storytelling aspect that connects from beginning to end.

But instead we're left with this majestic collection of delicate water sounds and big sound design which I don't think I can get enough of, and that's what mattered in this song lol. Good work.

Composition: 9
Production: 9
Sound Design / Performance: 10
Structure: 8
Creativity: 9.5
Total: 91/100

Official NGADM '20 Round 3 Review

I feel inadequate. Why am I hear giving you a review when honestly when it comes to classical composition I feel like I should be taking notes from you. I like the minimalistic style you've done with this, and the structure is definitely the focus of this piece. As for the composition, it's very tender. I would say deeply emotional, but it's not sad, and I could have said joyful, but it's still also somber. I had to look up Philip Glass since I wasn't familiar with it, but I could instantly hear the style with the first song I found. The duet with the violins makes it so both instruments compliment each other well. I feel that the rhythm choice really helped give it that style of "time continues on" feeling, and while I wouldn't have expected what you wrote based off the title alone, I get a really good glimpse of what you're doing with the description. I will say what would have been interesting, in regards to the description, if you would have made a call back to the rhythm that you started out with in the intro. With the piano staying with the triplet style it would have been like an "aha" moment hearing the regular quarter note style pop back up in something like the violins or even a separate piano part. I think I'm catching the reprise of the left hand writing but I'm not sure if I'm getting it confused with the base chord progression.

Aside from the composition / structure, there really isn't much I can say about the production quality. There isn't a lot to balance and mix since it's just a piano and some violin parts, but I can't figure out if the piano is you recording your own midi being played if it's a studio recording (I'm assuming you're playing based on what I've heard you make before). I can't tell if the violin is an expensive VST or real though lol.

All in all, very pretty. There really isn't a ton going on from a third person perspective and it also sounds like something I've heard before, but it gets to the heart of the matter which is the story of the emotions being told which I think is the important part. I definitely relate and agree with what you've stated, and you shouldn't be ashamed that your intrinsic nature and writing is Christian. I find it encouraging.

Composition 9
Production 9.5
Sound Design/Performance 9.5
Structure 8
Creativity 8.5
Total 89/100

Phonometrologist responds:

Thank you for the earnest review. I should mention that even if you feel you should be taking notes from someone that writes in this style, it doesn't mean you cannot offer critique as a listener. You don't need to understand a certain art form to offer your opinions on it. My wife knows nothing of music and yet I value her opinion on my works because it comes from a different perspective. Perhaps it's a perspective that most people have with in relation to how they listen to music.

Good catch with the structure being the focus and the emotional descriptions-- very accurate. Regarding the performance, this was the only track I did this year with midi piano. This style doesn't correlate well with the type of piano I have. The violin actually isn't that expensive: 8Dio Deep Solo Violin
In the future, I definitely want to re-record this piece with a live performance though.

Thank you for the encouraging words. All my music is as you said intrinsically Christian. I'm just sensitive to the fact that some may find offense to me speaking plainly of it.

Oh yeah, this is my jam

Official NGADM '20 Review for Mooke

Composition and Structure:
What are scales, am I right? Honestly I'm left confused by the end of it. What gets me is that you don't really stick to anything in any certain way, except the feeling of being frantic. Like the percussion, the high energy, and tempo are the only constants in this whole shindig. Aside from that I can't tell if you want to say screw it to the idea of having sensible notation or not, because there's a lot of phrases that start off as something I could latch onto and make sense off. There is something of a chord progression that you use so it makes me think that there is a scale I should be able to pick out, and you start using it. Than halfway through the phrase you do a 180 and just go chromatic in whatever direction you want. I guess that's kinda what you're going for trying to tease the listener along and then throwing it back in their face, but that comes across as bipolar and aggressive. The lack of energy dynamics too also gives a sense that you really don't have any sort of story, you're just trying things and then giving up on them before they get to completion.

Production and Sound Design:
I was a little dissapointed with the sound quality of this song. It sounded overcompressed and crowded which made it tiring to listen to a couple of times through. Individually I like what you have. I like the percussion and they positively add to the feel of the song, and the synths you have going here I think fit with the sections that they're in. There's a couple here and there that sound dry or too flat, like you have some basic sytrus presets and cranked them up a bit, but the mixing as a whole doesn’t leave very good space to be able to pick out things very well.

Composition: 7
Production: 6.5
Sound Design: 8
Structure: 6.5
Creativity: 8.5
Total: 74/100

Mooke responds:

That's the beauty of doing things differently :) The risk is big but who care, I'm not aiming to please people with fancy scale or notation, fuck all that, what I need them to do is to feel. Feeling is all I was looking for. And you exactly feel what this work supposed to feel like.

I'm happy that you gave my creativity score good, because it's a clear representation of what I have always done, never conform. :)

Thank you for judging and thank you for the review!

Official NGADM '20 Review for EverErratic

Composition and Structure:
That intro is gripping. Without reading any of the description it instantly threw me into a different world, and all it took was 7 chords. I kept wanting to repeat the intro and really savor in how much, and you're use of 4/4 really gave it a largely different feel from your other works. Ugh the more details I notice the more I like this. Like what you're done a lot with a lot of your 3/4 and 6/8 works have generally had a swaying to them, something that gives the sense of dancing most times. Here you really get the feel of how heavy every beat is. Especially once the driving low strings start really playing in full force at 0:28, and it really drives home the emotions that would come across like what you have in your description. The 1:27 temporary key change into a major key felt kinda alien in the flow of the structure, but with the description I can see how it's a nice nod to happier times. Without knowing your intent with the song it might have made some more sense if you temporarily had the driving low strings stop for that moment until you brought the dark tones back in maybe since it feels like the person the song is being told through is of someone who temporarily ties to pick themselves up in vain and is quickly thrown back to the original state. I want to sit here for a good half hour just eating up what you're doing with the chord progression.

Production and Sound Design:
I'll admit one of my weaker judging points because I don't feel like I know what to look for in orchestral pieces still. I don't believe I'd be able to distinguish it from a live recording. The sounds are all very warm and rich, but the only thing that I probably don't like is maybe the harp is a little muddy in the end with the mix. Otherwise no complaints from me.

This song hurts good

Composition: 10
Production: 9.5
Sound Design: 9.5
Structure: 8.5
Creativity: 9.5
Total: 94/100

Everratic responds:

Thank you for the review!

I'm glad you like appreciate the use of 4/4. I didn't think about it at the time, but I see how much of a difference it makes now.

The key change represents a change in the stream-of-consciousness narrative. The person reminiscences the happiest moments with their loved one and realizes they are in a better place. Then the sadness returns.

The harp was difficult to mix. I've seen professional orchestras up close, and the harp tends to be far off to the left and is barely audible. I tried to replicate that placement but with a higher volume because it's an important line. I made sure to control low-mid resonances and cut off a bit of the low end, but it could still sound better. Maybe reducing the stereo image could help.

Thanks for being a judge and writing many reviews :)

Do you like dubs? Do you like Wubs? I've got them in SPADES! Sprinkled in is some actual melodic content so you don't think I'm a hype junkie

28, Male

Michigan, USA

Joined on 1/15/11

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