There’s been an overwhelming response to our request for our readers to send in tracks to be assessed by the MusicTech team – we’ve waded through the submissions and picked a track that had an interesting range of texture and dynamics.
The first track is called Shangri-La by an artist named ‘MoonRacer’
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/87135146″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
I like the way the elements within the mix are almost held back with the strings, for example, entering in the background and then gradually becoming a little more prominent – some would have been tempted to bring them right up. The piece is well mixed with everything well separated across the stereo spread and EQ wise. However, once it displays all of its ideas, it doesn’t perhaps go anywhere else or to the land that it promised to take you. So in that sense it’s a little safe but does have a superb atmosphere and feel.
The track has a vaguely eastern quality which lends to an air of mysticism and sets a definite mood. The drum pattern certainly fits the vibe very well and the ambient effect of the shifting strings makes the listener ‘feel’ the track. However I have to agree that it’d be nice for it reach a destination musically and harmonically – which isn’t to say that the track as it stands is missing anything, but it does seem to me that there is a lot of potential to diversify. However the track is well produced and certainly evocative.
I like the panned Tabla delays that weight themselves on the right. In general the choice of panning creates a great sense of space and it’s nice that most musical information is on the right and the drawn out sounds are to the left. The chords at 1.25 are a nice addition for the breakdown and the pan-pipe type sounds (if that’s what they are) travel well over the stereo field. I feel the sparse section at 2:15 is weakened by the strings not fading out soon enough as the nature of this new section isn’t established clearly enough at first.
Maybe just hang onto the note before last at 2:12? Or just have less string instrumentation layered for that final note to make it less dense and help the listener along the way.
All the interest you’ve created from the first section with new instruments and variation seems lost in the final section and my interest starts to disappear by around 3:20 in the final part. I understand that you may be wanting to ride-out the final motifs, but for me there needs to be some new added interest in there, even if it’s from auxiliary parts that don’t detract from the main musical elements.
Really like the piece. There’s a good use of different instrumentation and sounds, which bounce nicely off each other, and everything is well balanced in the mix. That said some of the plucked sounds are quite resonant around the 2-4k area and a tiny bit of EQ here might help. A good technique to check this is to listen quite loud on low quality ear buds, as this will really make those frequencies pop out!
I quite like the sense of progression through the track. Maybe something subtle in the second half could help it crescendo more. A couple of suggestions are a sparse ethereal vocal that’s drenched in reverb, or some sort of slightly more energetic percussion layer – maybe a shaker, or gentle snare hit/roll that could build in intensity towards the end (something like Superior Drummer is great for this).
But overall, a very well written and produced track!
Great ambient track, very nicely produced and mixed that builds well. However, after a while I found myself losing attention, despite the variety of sounds. Methinks it should move somewhere else harmonically, about halfway through, to really give it a lift and then return to the first chord sequence for the ending, which is fine. The higher strings are maybe a little harsh and their built-in sample vibrato sounds a bit unnatural, but this a matter of taste. All in all an enjoyable listen with some imaginative ideas.
An imaginative use of ethnic sounds, and a good overall vibe to the track which really suits the genre. I would ditto Alex’s point around the 2-4k range, as there seems to be a lot of sounds all wanting attention here. This is a good place for ‘bite’, but maybe decide what instruments you want to have that focus, alternative, a small dip when mastering might help take some the aggression out.
Structure is one area that could also do with some refinement. I really liked the more ambient sounds in the track – like the piano and the parts right at the end – which might work better as a subtle intro, then drop the beat in around a minute or so to create the lift. Personally, I think clearer more defined structures really help the listener. Unless it’s printed in the sample, I’d also be tempted to look at the reverb on the tabla, as this sounds rather mono.
Overall though, an enjoyable listen, and a track that shows a lot of potential.
I really like the live feel and not over processed quality of the instruments but I agree with Andy J – it needs a bigger second act after such a promising start.
Thanks very much for your submission MoonRacer!
Join us next week when we’ll take a look at another track – it could be yours!