Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by arby »

j$ wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 11:40 am
W.A.I.L. I.A.A.C.
What do those initials mean please?
j$ wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 11:40 am
Virgo Power -
Hell, yes! The omnichord might be a little loud in the EQ range, but the very fact I'm writing that shows how little I know when it comes to mixin' and masterin'. Anyway, a lovely tune and a good strong vocal that carries it over the minimal chordal structure of the song. However I didn't really hear the challenge being met, so you may lose some points there ...
Thank you very much for your kind review! I just wanted to say something about how I interpreted the challenge and what I tried to do - I may not have succeeded, but this was my goal. I read it as "repeat with more stuff/louder each time" so the first time I did the chorus was quiet/sotto voce (I used a telephone vocal filter plus turned down the volume on both vocals & omni [only Omni nerds will care but I also used the strings voice on Omni instead of Celeste - softer sounding]), then the second time was full voice with drum and loud Omni, then the third time I added backing vocals and in the 2nd repetition (of 3rd chorus) I double-tracked the backing vocals and hard-panned them one to each side. Short of adding more instruments (which is hard bc I don't play any and my GarageBand instrument skills are scary as in bad), I didn't know how else to emphasize the repetition further.

By the way I am proud of myself for cutting stuff out - at first I did the chorus twice in the intro, and then I was like wait a minute, I don't really need to do that and I don't think it adds anything - cut to the chase! I also had a (short, instrumental) bridge and then repeated the chorus again but I didn't know how else to emphasize so I started getting crazy with GarageBand filters (as is my wont when left to my own devices) but when I took a day off and then listened to it again I was like, I think as it goes on it's just getting worse rather than better. This bridge is pointless! Bye-bye! Last chorus, who needs it?! It wasn't like it got louder, it just got more muddled. Song went from 3:22 in length to 2:30!!

So whatever else happens this round as far as my song and the other judges goes, I feel like I learned something. And that makes it all worthwhile to me.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by j$ »

arby wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 8:19 pm
j$ wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 11:40 am
W.A.I.L. I.A.A.C.
Written As I Listen. I Am A C**t.

I'm pretty sure I've signed off every nur ein review with those initials. A bit of foreshadowing!
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Caravan Ray »

j$ wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 2:15 am
arby wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 8:19 pm
j$ wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 11:40 am
W.A.I.L. I.A.A.C.
Written As I Listen. I Am A C**t.

I'm pretty sure I've signed off every nur ein review with those initials. A bit of foreshadowing!
Ha! I was going to jump in an answer for you. I knew the first 4 words - but I was taking a guess at the last 4. My guess was right.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by grumpymike »

It took me all day to realize what Ever Kenieval reminds me of, and now I feel ashamed.

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Adam! »

Come watch Max Bombast turn it over and over again.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by ujnhunter »

Why is Max Bombast's shirt backwards? Inquiring minds want to know...
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by JonPorobil »

Hey folks, I'm the straggling judge this week. I apologize; I got sick on Monday through most of Tuesday. I'll have rankings up in about two hours, hopefully, and reviews late tonight. :ugeek:
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by JonPorobil »

My rankings have been submitted. Niveous will post round results as soon as he's done tabulating.

I'll admit that my rankings were a little hasty, and with more time to listen there probably would have been a lot of movement in the middle. I opted not to stress over that because it's round 0, there's no immunity on the line, and only one cut. My bottom three were all quite clear and probably wouldn't have changed with more time. When I post my reviews later, I hope the competitors will take that into account and not take it too personally if they don't like how I ranked them. :?
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Rabid Garfunkel »

wasn't expecting that. cheers, j$

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Rabid Garfunkel »

and congrats Moss Palace!
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by j$ »

Rabid Garfunkel wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 10:59 am
wasn't expecting that. cheers, j$

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Pleasure. I had no idea that it was you , until I was told by the other judges. Good work and good luck! Though i am sad that no-one went down the Princess Amethyst line ... ah, well!

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by WreckdoMelle »

Are civilians allowed to review in Nur Ein? I'm doing it...
Well overall, a lot of good stuff. I had trouble following the gradual repetitions with some entries, honestly, but then I am not a judge. My non-scientific opinions to follow...

Berkeley Social Scene - This music is awfully pleasant for such subject matter I must say. That said, good guitar tones, liked that walking bass in the intro. Nice guitars solo.

Balance Lost - Oof real talk. Another pleasant number. Cool busy-yet-subtle keyboard beneath. At first on the high note I thought my kettle was going off. The rhythmic vocal delivery keeps it interesting.

Brown Word and the Big Whine - This song partially wrote itself in that the hook came to me as soon as I knew the title. The rest was a little challenging - I wanted just the right tones, like a saloon-sounding piano, and the vocal harmonies to be a little old-timey. Then there was the vintage fuzz guitars. I gots to have my fuzz.

Boffo Yux Dudes - There is not enough O's in smooth for this. It really has no sharp edges, and that's okay! I do like the lyrics.

Budget Bears - Can guitars be subtle and aggressive at the same time? Because this is what I hear happening. The narrator is subtle yet agressive. This song is cute. Nice sounding space-guitar solo. Oh no, too many semis, though it was humorous.

Whoa! Killer synth in this Nur Ein theme song. Good lyrics too. Makes me feel like I need to put on my roller skates (and promptly fall down).

Cavedwellers - Some sophisticated 70's sounding stuff going on here, with fancy chords and high pitched accompaniments. That's not to say I don't like it, because it's working for me. I'm not sure this really goes anywhere in particular, seems to meander like an oxbow river. I don't like the bouncy "stones-y" end part.

Crown Shy - Heavy subject matter. The synths are overpowering and distracting in places. Nice fuzz guitar. Vocal harmonies quite decent. The angelic voices are great. I think the mix definitely needed adjusting - great promise here.

Ever Knievel - Cool canned beat (apologies if it is real, it sounds cool either way). This is pleasant overall, cool synths.

Frankie and the Mountweasels - A little long getting started, setting an atmosphere it would seem. Very Residential vox when they come in. That is not an example of gradually descending into repetition (in case subsequent repetition is even more repetitious). Clever lyrically.

Governing Dynamics - Something about the lyrical delivery in places makes me think of Blink 182 - which could be a really good thing or not, depending on tastes). Not a fan of that big sudden modulation nor the freestyling whoas.

Grumpy Mike - Mysterious and samba-esqe (or is it tango-esque?). Loses a little energy in the chorus, though the dramatic splash of sizzling guitar is a nice touch. I can really picture the singer as a pawnbroker arranging everything in his glass cases.

Heid - Lovely voice, always glad to hear more fellow women in the fights. The dynamics of the guitar are matched nicely to the vox. Cool accompanying vox.

Hot Pink Halo - Good juxtaposition of jangly acoustic with dreamy electric. Atmospheric vox a bit Cocteau Twins in places. I find your lyrics quite interesting in this song. That last line delivery - fabulous.

Lichen Throat - Truck song! Yes. I am seeing this in my mind and feeling somewhat envious. Vox a little off the beat in some places. I like some of these lyrics a lot - My mudflaps tell you to back off, diesel fumes cheer me up.

Lucky Spoon - Cartoony. Not such a fan of the halting rhythm in places, it robs the song of momentum. Good barbershop "poop" though.

Mandibles - I like the ooohs and the other vocal accompaniments underneath. Really nice guitar when it is alone. All the voices sound really good, but I find the delivery a bit overdone. Electric has a killer tone.

Max Bombast - Really tough intro. I like this a lot. Maybe I need to get to know the music of Max Bombast better because this is downright badass. Great harmonies.

Moss Palace - Yes, these vox are tough! Makes me think of a bar in the daytime, I don't know why. Like you'd go in there and this band would be playing a matinee. Whoa, ripping guitar solo! I'm putting a couple bucks in the tip jar.

Nick Soma - Dirge-like and formidable. I like when he says "My Semiprecious" and all the music falls away. This whole thing has a really dark brooding atmosphere. Cool drawn out "semiprecious" in the breakdown.

see-man-ski - Doubled vox remind me of the doubling effect ZZ Top uses. Sounds cool. Piano and fuzz guitar works! (I MIGHT be a tad bit biased...) Kind of a lot of noise going on the "hear me out" part.

The Lowest Bitter - Nur Ein's sole noise entry? Oh, no here come some vox. The electronics part from the beginning is too loud, leaving no room for the vox and other elements, so it's better when that flanges out of the mix for a bit.

Serviettes - The choice to do such bare vox is a brave one. There are some flat notes in there. Some endearing parts also in there with the piano interplaying with the voice.

Third Cat - The opening guitars a bit loud. Drums are a bit thin but that sort of fits the spare arrangement - wait synth flying over too low and loud. Pleasant sound overall.

Virgo Power - Listening on headphones the organ/synths and drums don't quite agree with my ears. Oh, it's an omnichord. I'm afraid I had kind of a hard time getting into the groove of this one. The voice sounds good.

Wombat! - Ah, a sound experiment it would seem. I like the bassline quite a bit but the repetition is almost all we are getting, no wait, there is variations adding repetitions, I hear it now.

WreckdoM - Well we were Geoff-less this time so me and C did our best GW impressions. Well, we did resurrect him momentarily with a bit of a sample. Nasteeee, put lots of axle grease n stank. I got to watch a fair bit of 70's trucker movie snippets searching for some CB banter. That Rubber Duck, whatta guy, eh? Fun times!
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by crumpart »

Here are some quick reviews from a non-judge! Overall I thought this was a really excellent batch of songs. As usual, take or leave any of my advice as you see fit. Also congrats to Moss Palace on the win! :)

Balance Lost
Really enjoyed this. All the synth sounds are super fun and the melody is sticky. It maybe goes on a bit long (I think probably as a result of trying to fulfil the challenge, and it’s something that several other songs this round have suffered a bit from as well) and I don’t think the length and repetitions add anything of substance. Maybe consider editing it down if you redo it at any point.

Berkley Social Scene
Cool bassline. The sound has a fun “top down in a convertible” vibe to it. I don’t know what story the lyrics are referring to, but it doesn’t seem pleasant: I think the contrast of the upbeat, fun song with downer lyrics is working for you here.

Boffo Yux Dudes
I’m a sucker for electric pianos. The melody is really enjoyable, if a little familiar. Really solid understated delivery on the vocals. Really enjoyed this. The length is spot on.

Brown Word and the Big Whine
Super fun. I love it. The line “you took up the loupe and declared my value” is excellent, and delivered perfectly. That bouncy piano in the background is a winner. Your mixes always seem a little quiet, but whatever, I’ve got a volume control.

Budget Bears
“Throwing his toys out the pram” is a nice line. Again, a super fun song. I reckon you should put some really nuts layers of harmony behind the “he’s not getting served, the meltdown is glorious, if you can’t be famous, you can always be notorious”, which could also work in with the semi semi semi semi semi semi semi bit, making that whole section feel more gradual. The “notorious” mention almost feels like a Conor McGregor reference, which seems pretty spot on, but also it could be anyone. I kinda want your vocals to go all out at the end, like you’re chucking a huge tanty. Regardless, thoroughly enjoyed this.

Cavedwellers
Good build up of repetition in the lyrics and backing vocals for this. I think the end goes on a bit too long, which (like some of the other songs) feels like you sacrificed the song to the challenge a bit too far. Overall I enjoyed it, but if I was your editor I’d be cutting some stuff.

Crown Shy
The way this song devolves into a mash of noise is a pretty heartbreaking sonic representation of the lyrics, IMO. Yeah, it buries your voice, but I think that’s entirely appropriate for this song. It’s a good song. I wish you didn’t have to write it. :(

Even Kenievel
The compression on this is pretty full on and tired out my ears pretty quickly, which is a shame because it’s a good song.

Frankie and the Mountweasels
Really nice use of panning up front there with the traffic sounds. At first I assumed this was going to be Frankie Big Face, and for a second I was really impressed with how good his Australian accent was. Your vocals sound like they’re recorded a lot better than they have been recently, which is good. I really enjoyed this. The monotone delivery is perfect for the subject matter, and the synthy drone feel at the start is super cool. Some of the lines made me laugh out loud because I’m a child.

Governing Dynamics
I love the sound of this but the melody is super 90s familiar to me. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s reminding me of. I can’t really talk though; I’m currently trying to figure out where I’ve accidentally lifted the melody for my Paraedolia song from. Really did enjoy this overall though.

Grumpy Mike
The cash register sound effect; lol. Ooh, I like the way that comes back in and repeats as a percussive accent. Nice ending on this one. The mix overall seems a little muffled, and I don’t necessarily have any tips on how to improve that, but I did like the song quite a lot.

Heid
I think this is one of my favourites from this round. It has a kind of seemingly effortless ease about it. I’d be interested in hearing the melodica(?) part as a harmonica instead to bring a bit more expressive twang. Damn good job though. Really captivating song.

Lichen Throat
I feel like you could really lean into a more talky delivery for this. You seem to have tried for a more sing-song vibe, but I think that the talk-delivery style suits you a bit more, and I reckon it would a a good choice for this subject matter. I don’t love the sort of stereotypical lean to the lyrics, but there are a few lines that I enjoy every time I hear it.

Lucky Spoon
The production on this is impeccable, but it’s too swish for the song. The combination of subject matter and really, really perfect production is combining in a way that’s super uncomfortable, and I think it might be better with a looser approach. It feels somewhat insincere. I’m also not fond of the ableist slur.

Mandibles
This is really good but it’s way too long, and it feels like the only reason it’s this long is that you were sticking to the letter of “gradual emphasis of repetitions”. I reckon you could compress that end bit by half and still have the same type of feel, but punchier. If I was the editor, I’d cut the whole second verse, move the third up to the second and just find some other places here and there to trim stuff out.

Max Bombast
Nothing in particular to say about this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good work. Thank you for the videos; I always enjoy them.

Moss Palace
This song kind of washes over me. It’s really good, but it took a few listens for any of it to stick in my head at all. There are maybe a few spots where I’d adjust the scansion of the lyrics (“drink but don’t drown” is one spot that comes to mind; it feels like it’s missing a syllable or something). I think this would be more memorable for me if a bunch of the end was cut so that it’s shorter and snappier.

Nick Soma
The gradual lyrical repetition/emphasis in this is really clever. Solid choice in addressing the challenge in a different way than the most of the rest of us did. Really like this overall. Good job.

See-man-ski
Good visual on the throwing away of valuable things. After a few listens I think the “I keep telling you repeatedly” line is a bit on the nose. You could probably just cut that line entirely and it would still make sense. Overall I really enjoyed this.

The Lowest Bitter
The synths here are fun but they’re a bit too loud. That bass one in particular could be pushed back a bit; it was a relief when it disappeared for a while. This is so hyper-pop that I feel like you could really push your vocal delivery a lot harder and have the whole thing just go bananas.

The Serviettes
I thought this song was pretty sweet. I have a bit of a soft spot for it because I have, in fact, been listening to Transformer by Lou Reed all week. I feel like some of the rhymes are too far apart, so when one lands it sounds a bit off because what it’s rhyming was so far back. I think this is the kind of song where you don’t really need rhymes at all.

Third Cat
Hi Third Cat! Feels like it’s been a long time since you’ve been around. This has a fun lounge vibe that I really enjoyed. No specific notes or observations; I liked it.

Virgo Power
Your vocals sound really good in this track. The omnichord could do with being mixed back a bit; it’s a little too bright and sparkly in some spots, but it’s an easy fix. It’d be nice to hear some variation in instrumentation here and there. I think I saw you mention that you don’t play any other instruments, but I reckon you could figure something out. Really enjoyed it overall. I would like an omnichord pretty please.

Wombat!
I don’t know how this addresses either the “semiprecious” prompt or the challenge. It’s ok but there’s really not much there to grab onto.

WreckdoM
Third song about trucks! Not my favourite truck song of the round, but that’s more a genre bias thing than anything else. Your metadata made me LOL. Well played.

***
Hot Pink Halo; aka, me.
This song was incredibly fun to make. I normally struggle a bit with melody, but this one came almost too easily, and was really fun to sing. I set myself a challenge of not using any minor chords, so I think for the first time in my life I used a I-IV-V progression almost all the way through. I wanted to keep the progression simple so that all the overlapping parts at the end sat well. I’m super happy with how this came out. I’ve been back into my mix and fixed up a couple of tiny things that stood out after a few listens, but have wanted to change far less stuff than I usually do by this point.
Last edited by crumpart on Thu May 20, 2021 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by vowlvom »

Thanks for the reviews, you two! Always appreciated.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Niveous »

Niv Reviews, Part 1

First off, I apologize to anyone who hates that I don't do reviews in the normal style with each band listed separately. I didn't listen that way so why should I write it that way? Also please note that I think music reviewing is a bit insane as its so incredibly subjective. I'm a big YMMV believer (Your Mileage May Vary) when it comes to music, but since you participate in the Nur Ein to hear how this one person (along with 4 others) think about the songs you've made, here we go:

Let's start off on a negative and get that right out of the way. There were a couple of songs that just bored me. I couldn't find things about them that hooked me. Frankie &TMWs fell into that category. It lost me so quickly by having a whole minute intro of a bland appregio intro and then it followed with a lackluster vocal performance. There's no passion in the vocal, especially when it's about loving their truck. This song feels like it's supposed to a bit of a modern take on C.W. McCall's "Convoy" but that song worked because the flat verses were balanced by a big chorus. This song didn't have that so it all just fell flat with me. The Lowest Bitter also fell in the "bored me" section. The first section was rooted by that Tuh-taka-tak-tak synth riff and I just didn't find it appealing. Thankfully it was in every part of the song but it was there enough to be a turn off. Add in the whiny kinda new-romantic vocal and i just wasn't feeling it. Maybe if that synth riff was a bass guitar line and there was a different vocal take. But hearing this song again, made me think about the Virgo Power song because they both had a similar flaw to my ears but since the Virgo Power song has a much sparser production, it's easier to catch on that one. Okay, try this with me. Follow the synth riff from the beginning of the Lowest Bitter song and focus on that. There are points where the vocal line and the riff clash, making it feel off the beat, just something in the prosody and I think that's one of the reasons why the riff can't run throughout the tun (other than it would be annoying AF). Virgo Power had issues with lines hitting where they need to as well. Take the end of the first verse. She double times but misses the mark when it comes to the beat so when she says "But I", it's a stagger and it's unfortunate that the line is followed by a rest that just emphasizes it. That same kind of stagger happens in the second double time section, so there could have been some trimming done to make that flow better. But the VP song didn't bore me, it was short and inoffensive which is really a blessing in round zero.

The opposite of that feeling could be found for me in the Wombat! track. For one thing, it gets my goat because it's essentially an instrumental. Sure, it's got two numbers stations playing in my ears but that's just there as ambient noise. We aren't supposed to focus on what they're saying. This song is just two radios turned on in a room where RG is playing bass. I fails the title part of Nur Ein. I fails the challenge part of Nur Ein. The only saving grace is the creativity but musically it feels like puzzle pieces that have been hammered together instead of fitting together well. This is the part where I want to make clear that I want people to continue to experiment. I appreciate more avant garde music in my life but when it works, it works and sometimes it just doesn't. Let's look at the flip which would be Ever Kenievel, which is contemporary pop with just a lot of bass. It's got a Taylor Swift touch in that chorus. It feels like a 90's pop track which modern production and instrumentation. I wanna take the video for Dino's "Romeo" and cut it up and dub it with this track. Now, should all that be taken as a negative. That's up to you. I enjoy a well polished pop song and that's what this is. Granted, I don't think I'll be coming back to this song when the competition's over but it's a non offensive pop tune with a familiar feeling hook that can ride the middle of the road in the competition without me feeling bad for moving along a bad song (because it's far from that) while also making me wish for something that sparks my interest more. OR if EK just goes headlong into the nostalgia and rides that late 80's early 90's pop vibe, I'd be down.

Work beckons so part 2 later...
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Caravan Ray »

WreckdoMelle wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:37 am

Frankie and the Mountweasels ….. That is not an example of gradually descending into repetition
Actually- the gradual repetition is the first line. It is the same first line of my 2005 SongFight entry for “When it Snowed”

I thought 16 years was a fairly gradual way of easing into it.

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by JonPorobil »

In contrast to Niveous, I didn't want to post any reviews until I could post all of them, so you lot had to wait until the wee hours of Friday, when you're hopefully more than halfway done with your Round 1 entries, before reading what I liked and didn't like about your Round 0 songs. Such is the way of the Nur Ein.

Overall thoughts? The challenge seems to have been more of a stumbling block than I anticipated. I know I told you all not to worry about it, and in keeping with that, I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, but I do think there were some entries whose approach to "Gradual emphasis of reptition" was weak, or was dubious, or went completely over my head. Oh well. Overall it's a pretty strong batch, and I've had several of my favorites stuck in my head for the last few days. Looking forward to hearing more from you all!

On with the show! Shine on, you crazy rhinestones!


Balance Lost - The vibrato synthline screams "Balance Lost" right off the bat. I also like how that synth lines changes each time it comes around, to keep interest. I like the bounce from the hi-hat pattern. The sixteenth-note synth pattern that comes in behind the chorus builds the momentum effectively. The mix and arrangement are both top-notch. "I'm not being funny / and you're not laughing" is a standout bit of lyricism. I also really like the organ part that shows up right at the very end, just when the listener thinks the song has already shown all its cards. I think the lyrics feel a little forced at some points, which keeps me from getting fully lost in this. I think your take on the challenge is that built-up delay/background vocal in the coda, right? It's a bit of a weak take, but it's fine. This is on the upper edge of the middle tier.


Berkeley Social Scene - This is from the point of view of Buffalo Bill's captive in Silence of the Lambs, right? (Edited after the fact to say: Ohhh, it's Bill's dog. Feel free to disregard the nitpicks that follow here, sorry I didn't get that.) Okay, so I haven't watched that movie in like 20 years and I've never read the book, but I feel like this isn't quite how I remember it. "He treats me like I'm only semiprecious." I feel like the killer treated that person much worse than semiprecious... But on the other hand I've already spent more than enough words nitpicking this point, so let's move on. Your band always sounds really tight, at least in terms of being in the pocket, but I wonder if this one would have benefitted from some more energy. A little bit more tempo, some more dynamic range, that kind of thing. Certainly there's enough drama in the story you're telling to justify that. As usual, I love your drums, the recording and performance are both top-notch. The guitar work here also shines, and the understated keyboard in the background is just enough extra texture. I admit, I didn't catch how this song addressed the challenge. I'm sure it's in there, but since I didn't get it by myself, I can't help but feel like it's a missed opportunity, covering a character who's driven by obsession. Repetition can be a great technique for exploring the theme of obsession. Maybe it was just too subtle. It's round 0, so I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt anyway, but I'd appreciate an explanation if you could.


Boffo Yux Dudes - Your songs sound cleaner every time I listen. Your harmonies are working well here, but your lyrics scan poorly. "You SHINE like A dark JOO-ell, danger-OUS but still subLIME." You've got to hear how awkward that is when you're singing it, right? I apprecaite the creativity of taking the "semi" part of "Semiprecious" literally with "Half of what you say," "half the time," etc. The call-and-response harmonies fulfill the challenge, more or less, but I don't know that it adds much to the song that isn't already there. They remind me a little of XTC, which I know you'll take for the compliment it is.


Brown Word and the Big Whine - There's a lot to like here! The grungy guitar over a country twang, the catchy melody, the way it feels just about to fall apart at any moment without ever losing control. I like how, in spite of all the fuzz, the country side of the songwriting can assert itself through some canny vocal choices and one II-V-I resolution at the end of the chorus. I'm not sure if these were conscious choices or just really sharp musical instincts, but either way, it hangs together very well! I like the specificity of the lyrics, too, naming different semiprecious stones, and "You took up a loupe and declared my value." And that ending works really well! If I'd had more time and/or hadn't gotten sick during the judging period, this might have risen more in my ranks. My main complaints are that I don't think your implementation of the challenge actually adds much to the song, and I think that pizzacatto string sound you're using doesn't suit the genre or vibe you're going for. It was nice to see this get some love in the rankings, though, including getting one judge's #1 spot.


Budget Bears - You've got one of the clearest-cut implementations of the challenge. I've heard it said your first line needs to have a huge impact, and this one fits the bill. Very good work with the drums - that's a VST, right? The performance sounds very natural, especially on those fills. I appreciate that your vocals don't let lost as the dynamics of the song change. I wonder if maybe the "semi semi semi semi" section doesn't run maybe one or two measures too long? I guess you were leaning into the challenge. Overall this was a fun listen and veyr pleasant. I've got few negative comments.


Cavedwellers - I dig the groove on this one right away. When the vocals start, I lose the thread a little. The singing isn't bad, and the imagery in the lyrics is good, but it feels like maybe you're trying to fit some complicated ideas into short lines. "Timeless style, flash that smile with the cameras clicking" lacks a little of the impact of punchy lines like the ones in your chorus. I'm not sure I agree with the decision to change singers for the bridge - is Glennny playing a different character in the song? It sounds like he's expressing the same point of view in that section. Also, Glennny's voice doesn't sit as well in the mix as Truth's. Your take on the challenge is (ugh, forgive the pun) rock-solid. The more times I listened, the more that chime bugged me; maybe if it had been saved for just the end it would have reserved more impact? Anyway, really good effort.


Crown Shy - Through the first verse, I was thinking to myself, "This one's going to be the winner, isn't it?" Such a confident opening! The plucky arpeggiated synth, the confident soft vocal, that absolute sucker punch of a first line "Do you tell her that she's dying?" - Wow-whee, did you set the bar high for yourself! I anticipated the guitars coming in for the chorus, and it was incredibly satisfying when they did. But, unfortunately, your mix lost its footing a bit after that point - I think maybe your voice and either the guitar or the supplemental synth sounds you added at the same time are fighting for some frequency ranges? I had a really difficult time making out your vocals from the first chorus all the way through the reptition of the first verse at the end of the song, and you lost some points for that. If you're open to mixing advice (and I get it if maybe I'm not the person you want get mixing advice from, lol), I think the guitar in this arrangement is serving as kind of texture, or subtle emphasis to make the choruses sound bigger, so it doesn't need to stand out that much. You could lower the guitar's overall volume, probably by quite a bit, and I suspect it would improve the overall impression. More than just making the guitar quieter, however, maybe use a visual EQ to locate your voice's fundamental frequency, and give the guitar a cut in that freqency range - if you're feeling ambitious you could even automate the frequency so that it only cuts when you're singing. I suggest trying the same with the extra synths added in the chorus and second verse. Maybe that'd be too conspicuous, I don't know. Worth trying, though! I still had you in my top five, so keep it up and I can't wait to hear what else you bring this year!


Ever Kenievel - God, is the review fatigue setting in already? Or do I just really like this song? This was one of my favorites of the round. Great groove, I like the fuzzy bass, great buildup throughout the song, really catchy sing-along-able chorus... I like how you keep the keyboards in the background just doing their thing, chilling in the background. There's some conspicuous pitch correction on the lead vocal throughout; it's possible that you did this intentionally as a style choice, but that's one thing I'd suggest changing. I really like what you've got going on, though, so just keep it up!


Frankie and the Mountweasels - {beleagured sigh} ...All right. This review is going to come off much meaner than any other review I've written this week. I'm sorry for that, but I know that you can take it. You've been doing this as long as I have, we've met in person, and let's not forget that you won Nur Ein during a year when I was a judge, so you know I don't dislike you or your music in general. So let's get on with this review of your stupid, stupid, mind-bogglingly stupid song. I get that you were reaching a unique lyrical approach, one that would stand out among a field of 25-or-so other songs with the same title. And singing about your precious semi (trailer) isn't a terrible backdoor approach to the lyric, although you kind of had to bend over backward to make it work lyrically... But I would say this doesn't meet the challenge, because instead of a "gradual emphasis of a repetition," you went with "beat us over the head with a reptition starting from the first chorus and don't let up." I get that some of your choices were made in service of a title and challenge combination that I suspect failed to inspire you, and you probably wouldn't have done them otherwise, but honestly, I found the way you repeated "Semi precious" ad nauseum so grating it made me want to skip the rest.


Governing Dynamics - Very moody vibe right from the start. You're great with laying and mixing guitars, and this is an angle on that approach that I don't think I've heard much from you before. I generally think of you as more hard-rocking, louder and bombastic. Anyway, I like your elliptical lyrics. "Been there / scorned that" is a highlight. I did want to draw your attention to the line in the chorus: "You don't not care / But you don't care much." I get, intellectually, what you're going for with this line, but it trips me up when trying to sing along. Your take on the challenge is kind of checking a box - you did it, but I don't know that it adds to the song or that it took you in a direction you weren't already going. That's fine, you still made it pretty high in my ranks, but I encourage you to think of ways that future challenges can be incorporated more into the bedrock of your song's concept.


Grumpy Mike - DISQUALIFIED because you didn't post your lyrics. Just kidding; the last thing I'd want is to upset you so much that you name a podcast after the incident. :-P All right, down to brass tacks. Fortunately, the mix is clean, so I didn't have much trouble understanding your vocals. Your take on the challenge is one of the more interesting of the round, because lyrically, you're talking about how physical goods accrue value by being separated into parts, and your use of "piece by piece," making the phrase itself piecemeal, works neatly within that concept. I'll admit, this might be the only song of the whole round that made me want more when it was over. On the one hand, you should leave your audience wanting more, but on the other hand, it feels a little incomplete, like maybe you just ran out of time. What's here works well, but I'd prefer if some of the lyrics were less on-the-nose. "I'm an entrepreneur," "I'm a pawnbroker," etc., all seemed like first-draft lines, like you could get to your REAL point without the introductions.


Heid - Your voice is beautiful here, hitting every note while still projecting vulnerability. I like how your chorus builds up and reflects the anxiety your character feels. All your lyrics scan perfectly with the melody as you sing it, which makes it sound perfectly natural, and probably made it easier to nail that vocal performance too, right? Other entrants, take note! I like how, though the acoustic guitar remains constant in the arrangment, other instruments come and go to build and maintain interest. I smiled when the melodica appeared, and then the delay synth, the same sound that my old Casio called "Crystal Drop," which was quite fitting if you happen to know that name for the sound. One bit of advice, though? When you're adding instruments for emphasis, it can be really tempting to get excited about how a new one sounds and then mix it too high because you want people to notice it. Here I think that manifested in the melodica being a little too loud; it can be much lower in the mix and still serve the same purpose. That didn't hurt you much in the ranking, though; you were my favorite of the week. Keep it up, and I can't wait to hear what you do next!


Hot Pink Halo - It's really astounding to me how much your singing and mixing have improved in the year I've been listening to your songs. I think the voice still gets lost from time to time in this mix, but overall it's pretty strong. There was something in the higher frequency that bothered me when I was listening on my car speakers, but not in my headphones or studio monitors, oddly. I think it was that strummy electric guitar. One thing I really like about this song is how you allow yourself to really FEEL the vocal performance while you sing it. You're hitting the notes, but also acting out the part in equal measure, and I find that kind of intensity contagious. The extra layer of vocals over the ending is icing on the cake. Man, looking over my rankings, I'm sorry I didn't have you higher!


Lichen Throat - There are some aspects of the "Lichen Throat" that I'm pretty sure arise from limitations with how you make your tracks, but I've had to just embrace them as "What Lichen Throat sounds like." The eighth note guitar stabs sound unnatural, but you're not going for "natural," are you? It sounds messy, but I bet more people would be able to read it as a stylistic choice if you could get your vocals tighter. I can hear the melody you're going for on this one, but you spend most of the song drifting around that melody without landing on the right spot, and that keeps you out of consideration, unfortunately. I apprecaite how you split the difference between Carav-- er, I mean, "Frankie and the Mountweasels"'s deliberate mis-parsing of the title, and the actual meaning of "Semiprecious," contriving your narrative to fit both definitions. A good idea held back by struggling performance.


The Lowest Bitter - That long intro built up a little mystery, but in the end it didn't have much to do with the rest of the song. You have a really serious topic, but I don't think the musical tone of your song or vocal performance properly conveys that emotional core. You're singing about the human cost, helplessness, and suffering of a mining industry! You're singing about people who work and die for barely-subsistence wages! So why doesn't that come through in the music? I feel like there should be palpable anger, or despair, or something other than synth bounce and a sing-song downward lilt in your hook. It's actually pretty clever to use the title "Semiprecious" to draw a connection between the stone and the treatment of the people mining it, but I don't think the song serves that message.


Lucky Spoon - Look, I'll be honest with you. I've had a rough week. My dog got sick, then I got sick. I got better eventually; my dog was diagnosed with diabetes. And the whole time my day job was piling up tasks to anxiety-inducing highs. All of which is to say, who knows? Maybe on a different week I would have been more receptive to this! But where I'm at right now, I just can't with this. It's cutesy and earnest and endearing and I took an immediate dislike to it. I couldn't help but cringe at the last word of almost every line. To your credit - you have what might be the most effective use of the challenge. Your repetition of the word "poop" doesn't just meet the challenge, but also contributes to the emotional core of the song - this dawning realization of the downsides of these fluffy animals that you're still pretty sure you love. But god, all the cutesy language and overwrought delivery sweeps away all the goodwill this challenge implementation earned you. "A boony" rhymed with "opportun-y"? "Hoped to see some binkies"? I just can't get on board. Sorry, try as I might, I just could not meet you at your level this week.


Mandibles - Ohh, look at Mr. Big Shot here, who can get a house all the way to half full! I don't think I heard where the challenge was met... I hear a couple of things that might have been intended as the challenge, but they're all a bit weak, in my opinion. Anyway, I'll just have to give you the benefit of the doubt. I really like the guitar work in this song, but the songwriter-focused lyrics are kind of a turn-off for me, and they're pretty mean-spirited, too. I suppose that's not a flaw (no pun intended) in and of itself, but it begs the question: who's the narrator of this song, so be so mean to the "you" here? Is this one of those songs where the "you" is actually yourself, and you're just beating yourself up for not being special? Or are you taking the place of someone else in this person's life criticising them for being too "precious" about their music? I also think the running time is too long for what the song is doing. I'd have considered cutting one of the pre-choruses that doesn't lead into a chorus, and possibly an entire verse. Get to the guitar parts and that huge ending a little bit quicker!


Max Bombast - You didn't do a video diary for this one? (Edited after the fact to add: Hey, I found the video!) In an earlier review I mentioned how the challenge of gradual repetition could be an avenue to explore obsession, and here you've done that really well! The guitars are extra-crisp here and the drums are exemplary in both performance and mix, as I tend to expect from you. Something about that image of polishing a stone until you've worn it away just sticks with me. Yeah, this is another song I regret not ranking higher. It's short and sweet and everything about it works. Top tier of the round.


Moss Palace - One thing I've said about Moss Palace/Merisan songs in the past is that I usually feel like Erin's voice is a little restrained. You're really skilled at writing to the voice you have, but for me, your songs have usually succeeded in proportion to how well the song serves Erin's vocal style. Well, that's out the window today - this vocal performance is an all-out belter, and a really successful trip outside your comfort zone! I also dig the accents on the guitar work, especially the little stabs in the end. These lyrics are bitter and angry; the vocal sells that emotional core. I like the way the contradictions scan in the second verse. I admit that this is one of those songs where the challenge implementation was either lost on me or pretty weak, so I think you lost a couple ranks due to that.


Nick Soma - Right off the bat, your vocal isn't sitting well in this mix, which is making it hard for me to make out the lyrics. I do appreciate the moody toms, but I think they're crowding out the baritone fundamental of your voice. I think your song serves as a very interesting contrast to Lowest Bitter's song. His entry has this deep emotional core in the lyrics that the music wasn't working to bring out. Your song is absolutely dripping with mood and emotion, but the lyrics aren't really gripping me. Your character is obsessed with these stones and singing about them, but I never really found a reason to connect with these lyrics. What does it mean for this person that he's so obsessed? Is he being kept from the thing he loves? Is his obsession keeping him from other loves or goals? What does it mean for this person to be so obsessed with these stones? You only have so many words to get and hold our attention, and you spend a ton of them just naming the stones; maybe redirect some of that energy into convincing us it matters.


see-man-ski - Your vocals and arrangements have come such a long way in the last year. I love hearing your layered guitars in this track! Remember what I was saying about the piano in your "Never Odd Or Even?" This is the opposite example; a song where a lower-quality VST is just fine, because the piano is taking a back seat and serving mostly as texture. It's mixed appropriately low for that purpose. Possibly my favorite part of this song is when the band drops out for the word "freely," which emphasizes a bit of wordplay that I think I would otherwise have missed. The vocal delivery on that word also helps the trick work. I like the use of the challenge, repeated attempts to be heard. Just a great entry all around. You're one to look out for this year.


The Serviettes - Your voice can't seem to find the melody. I'm not crazy about these lyrics and the "meta" aspect of walking up to a cliche and then cheekily acknowledging it as a cliche. Not much else to say on this one, sorry.


Third Cat - I struggled with hearing the verse vocals on this song; it sounded like you mumbled your way through the verses and/or just mixed your voice too low for whatever reason. It's not as much of a problem when you raise your voice into the next octave up. I'd like to hear some different lyrics for that last verse instead of repeating the first verse. The idea in its present state is static; I'd like to see it develop. Have your character's feeling change or evolve over the course of the song; give us a feeling that something has occured or changed over the course of the song.


Virgo Power - The emotional core is here, but there's a lot more iteration left to do for you to figure out the arrangement and melody. Your vocal performance is halting, and I don't get the impression that it was a conscious performance choice. I'm also not wild about that omnichord tone, but I guess that's a personal preference on my part. You're playing mostly whole-note strums on it, but still managing to not quite land on the beat. If you do want to develop this idea a little more, consider what you might do with the long gaps between lines in the lyrics. I'm not sure that the current strategy of leaving them empty is helping much. You might increase the tempo to lessen the effect of those pauses, but I think maybe some instrumental ornamentation would help. Or maybe filling the gaps with some call-and-response backup vocals? Right now, I have this feeling of "Come ON, get to the next line already!" which probably isn't what you're going for.


Wombat! - I can actually hear your take on the challenge, I think. It's a little oblique, but I'm okay with that. I think I also hear a connection to the title, but I admit that's even more tenuous. Honestly, I just felt like this was all box and no present. It's a little mysterious, but there wasn't enough there there, you know? Three of us had this song in dead last, so I was surprised to see you survive to round 1. I've heard you flex your creative musical muscle before, and I look forward to hearing it again. Now BRING IT.


WreckdoM - I think this is the song that Carav-- er, I mean Frankie and the Mountweasels was trying for. Definitely the best execution of the "Semi as in truck" interpretation of the title, but I just wasn't keen on any of them, to be honest. Your take is kind of Southern Culture on the Skids by way of Primus, and I like where your style's at, but the lyrics just felt like you were straining too hard to make it fit the title.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Caravan Ray »

crumpart wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:39 am

Frankie and the Mountweasels…. Your vocals sound like they’re recorded a lot better than they have been recently, which is good.
Thank you. And I do have you to thank.

A while ago you wrote that my vocal sound was crap. And I agreed. You suggested a weird arse thing to strap to my mic stand. And I bought one. It does actually seem to work.

At the time - it seemed about as welcome as a yellow bellied black snake at a barbecue. But now I am as happy as Kim Beazley with a big lump of cheese.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by j$ »

What is this bum thing of which you speak? I am curious ...

j$
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Caravan Ray »

j$ wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 1:02 pm
What is this bum thing of which you speak? I am curious ...

j$
One of these - a vocal shield
https://djcity.com.au/product/se-electr ... gKgl_D_BwE
Seems to improve things quite a bit
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by sailingmagpie »

Caravan Ray wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 1:46 pm
j$ wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 1:02 pm
What is this bum thing of which you speak? I am curious ...

j$
One of these - a vocal shield
https://djcity.com.au/product/se-electr ... gKgl_D_BwE
Seems to improve things quite a bit
I was considering getting one of these a while ago but couldn't decide if it would be worth the money.

Does it make a big difference with background noise?
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Zero "Semiprecious"

Post by Caravan Ray »

sailingmagpie wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 5:08 pm
Caravan Ray wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 1:46 pm
j$ wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 1:02 pm
What is this bum thing of which you speak? I am curious ...

j$
One of these - a vocal shield
https://djcity.com.au/product/se-electr ... gKgl_D_BwE
Seems to improve things quite a bit
I was considering getting one of these a while ago but couldn't decide if it would be worth the money.

Does it make a big difference with background noise?
Yes. I think so. I am using a large diaphragm condenser - so I was picking up everything. A different mic - the improvement may be less. There is probably a lot about this stuff if you search the "Help and How To" part of the forum
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