Julien Feedback 3
Synth - Desert Nights Mono
I thought the intro was a bit bare, & you don't want to lose the audience's attention before they even know what they'd be missing. I tried grabbing a few riffs from the lead synth, splitting them up, & pitching them down with extra delay. The result is satisfyingly interesting & hints at what's to come, but doesn't intrude on the feel of the beginning.
It provides a motif that the user can use as a reference point for the rest of the mix & works as a nice counterpoint when layered in with the original lead.
In terms of sound & mixing, this synth is really nice. You could potentially add a bit of distortion if you want those upper harmonics to howl a little more, but I think it works the way it is right now.
The biggest thing I heard with the drums was the lack of variations. You said you liked the drum machine feel of this, & it definitely plays into that well, but I think you're missing out on an opportunity to take the composition further. There's two ways you can go about this, have a listen to how it builds tension in a really natural way by pulling the drums out, like a "negative fill":
It works to leave the hats in like this, but you can also pull the drums out entirely, of course.
I also thought the crash was a little underwhelming & faded out too quickly, so I tried just doubling it's length, shave off some of the attack, & add some reverb. I think it works good & you can hear the results above in the second example.
Finally, you can add some transparent variation & suggest energy levels by modulating the hat. For drum machines, I like to put on simpler's random pan to have the hits come from different parts of the stereo field. I also like to automate the decay of the hat so that I can tighten it up in the verses & let it loose in the chorus.
For the mix, you might want some aggressive compression or big boost in the midrange (500-600hz area). They sound a little thin because they lack a lot of this frequency range.
Great use of the egg shaker, by the way! Works really well in the track. One thing I love to do with these is to transpose them down over the course of a bar, kind of like a tape stop. Because the strong top end gets pitched down, it ends up sounding like a modulated bandpass filter - it can be a cool way to add a fill from the elements that are already in the track.
The bass works as a great anchor, but it lacks variation/movement. I think it's important it maintain some consistency, but I think there are definitely ways to make it fit in better with the section it plays in. For example, in this section before the hook, I simply removed the last note. I think this opens up the section & slows the track down a bit to give you some headroom before the chorus strikes.
Similarly, I added some notes on the off beat to make the bass impart a bit more of a dance feel. Something like this could definitely catch the listeners attention & build the excitement in this section. I had to use audio to do this & transpose the short clips to make the slight melody, but the same principle works for MIDI of course.
In terms of mixing, I like that the harmonics give the bass a lot of presence. One thing you might want to explore is extending the length of the bass hits. I'd like to hear a version where the bass hits are extended all the way to the next note & the envelope edited to ensure this fades out properly & doesn't overwhelm the track (probably best done through a filter envelope so the high harmonics fade out & the sub carries through more).
I thought this section where the guitar comes in could use some more texture variation, so I pitched down this instrument & removed the arp. This lets the listener breath a bit more & gives the guitar more room to explore the new harmonies it does. Pitching down the bazille lets it stay out of the way more while creating an interesting, windy timbre.
A fun idea I tried for these, adding a macro for every sample's transpose & then using a fast lfo to modulate it. My example is a little extreme, but I think some of the slippiness of them is really interesting. Could be explored with dry/wet & varying lfo rates!