Julien Feedback 2
interesting start to the track as I've said but it does need some work before it's finished in my opinion. the biggest thing holding it back atm is dynamics, & I don't mean in terms of its compression. I simply mean in terms of the variation that exists in the track. as you can see from the arrangement view clips, a lot of these tracks are "set it & forget it" loops. I think you should take another look at adding some variation & I offer some ideas in the timecoded feedback below.
00:00: the opening chords here are great, they "bigger" than a triad in their harmonic complexity, if that makes sense. part of that has to do with the bell-like patch your using here. I think it's very successful but lacks warmth - try layering in a more "standard" piano patch an octave below these & very very quiet & see if you like what it adds.
00:15: the synth that comes in here has a nice classic feel, but the only thing I'd change is giving it more sustain with a delay. this gives you a sort of "reverse headroom" that will let you take the delay away on the last chord so the listener can anticipate the drop. it will help the synth better achieve it's aim & give you a creative away to build tension for the release of the beat.
00:30: the drums feel like they could do a bit more. I like the sort of stop-&-go lopsided feel that you started here & think you should embrace that further. the reverse snare adds a lot, but the timing of the drums is still a bit too standard & looping to hold my interest for more than a few bars. some variation & some bareness could go a long way here. or take the opposite approach & find some inspiration in the drums I gave you - think theres some stuff to work off of in those short sections. don't be afraid to mic up your sounds in a beat as well. once you've chosen a great kick (as you have) don't feel like it's the only kick you can use in the whole song. definitely look into making the sounds more varied & dynamic, esp in terms of velocity.
01:15: the hats are a nice add, but I don't thin, enough has happened over this stretch. it almost feels like I'm listening to your studio session as you build loops on a push and mute certain tracks & bring them back in. that's a vibe, but this isn't a live performance so give me some more thought-out modulation & tweaks!
01:30: another thought on the drums, the kick is so big all the time it ironically falls a bit flat after awhile. "bigness" is a function of dynamics & there isn't enough not-kick for me to appreciate what that kick is doing. I'd find more ways to pull it out, change the sound, & add modulation so it doesn't feel so static.
02:05: great addition, perfect blend of sound & melody, but another case of too-much-of-a-good thing! the best ice cream isn't your 500th bite of the day, it's your first after a year without. give me time to miss it before giving it back to me & find some variation you can make in this area.
02:20: the guitar is a great part but it's too buried under everything to really hear it! I found muting 'synth 1' here offered a lovely new section & feel & it's something you could look into since we've been listening to that loop through the whole track.
03:00: the e-bow sound loses its potential by staying as a drone throughout its whole part. maybe some side chain compression or side chain gate would help mix it up a little?
I like that the track is somewhat minimal as a whole, however, the intro is missing something. Keys to start are cool, but I tend to think that the Synth 1 would be better starting after the blocks in red; blocks in red sound lame when played with the keys. If I take them out, it's boring because the keys repeat for too long, even with the sample (or do they? What do you think?)
I don't think it's a bad move to ave synth 1 come in the intro. as I stated above, I think it could just be played with a little more & be used as more of a dynamic element. the mantra here is to make it functional & anticipatory so that when the beat drops the part is already familiar & we can just dig the music, like knowing the chorus of a song to sing along to.
There is no real bass line and that is intentional.
I wonder why not? Seems that one of the biggest holes in the track right now is a warmth & having a solid bottom can really help with that. it need not be a "bass line" or anything obvious - just a transparent sub tied in with the chords can just create the awesome bed this needs. even an 808 bass tied in with the kick drum could work out extremely well; the sustained release on the envelope can carry the groove into that reverse snare sound that's so essential to the beat.
The toms (that first appear at the end of measure 80) sound a little awkward, like there is something missing before they come, but I just can't figure out what. What you hear is the idea I'm going for though, just not well executed.
don't think those toms are inherently bad, but I agree they are a little awkward. you don't have to feel so tied to what a "real drummer" can do - I can think of a lot of ways to glitch & stutter & distort the existing sounds into something that accomplishes that same function. if you want to have the sound of a live drummer, however, you want to focus on the rhythm being a little more sloppy. I put together a quick example of something that kind of works. it changes the rhythm to triplets & actually cuts a 16th beat out of the final bar. the result feels pretty human because of the subtle accidents, but propels the track forward & is exciting (at least to me).
mainly, just look at stronger velocity variation, ghost notes, & feel out how a drummer would play these. another big thing is panning - drums aren't all played out of the center, so sell me on those rolls by positioning the drums where they would be if I was standing in front of the kit. the stereo movement should add a lot!
I tried to compress the ebow track so it wouldn't get too out of control but I feel like it still needs some more attending to...
the compression on the e-bow is fine. the volume is already very even, as it probably should be, & adding more compression won't change anything. the sound is all there, but all it functions as is a drone. you could definitely do some pitch bending / stutter stuff / artificial harmonies to make this land even better. basically, it walks in, says hello, & then stands there till the end of the track. have it tell a story & an exciting one bc your audience is dancing by this point of the song & you need to feed off that energy!
as I mentioned, the biggest thing with the track is variation. the only way to hold people's attention - especially in an instrumental song - is to keep things evolving. you might want to check out my breaking the loop article for some ideas on how to create derivative changes to create different related sections that you can pull from to create variation in your parts. let me know if you have any further questions on this track or others!