Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by noma »

Thanks to everyone for your reviews! Glad to know that it wasn't the challenge (and that my song doesn't suck either.) :)
Cybronica wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 8:43 am
I’m going to try to write reviews this weekend, but just in case I don’t get around to it, I wanted to say: In a round of exceptional songs, my favorite was Nick Soma’s. It’s been playing on repeat in my head for days, and I have yet to get tired of it. I love the recorder and clarinet duet, I love the soaring melodies, I love the swelling orchestration, I love the prosody of the lyrics, I love the turn into the coda, and I love the feeling it gives me when I listen to it. To be honest, it had me tearing up yesterday. Really, phenomenal job.
Wow, thank you so much. This really means a lot to me. While recording this song I found out that the combination of clarinet and tin whistle, which I had never tried before, sounds really good. If you liked the orchestration, have a listen to my "Abuse of Power" once the songs are up. I'm planning to use the same woodwinds again, if I can finish the song, that is.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by JonPorobil »

Belated reviews!

Sorry, folks, I started a new job near the beginning of the year, and they didn't tell me that Nur Ein season would also be the time of year we would get absolutely buried in work. It's really eaten into my judging/reviewing time, not to mention time for my own music. Ah well.

This was a fantastic round, and a nightmare to judge. I apologize to the acts who got low rankings from me because each of these was good and delightful in their own way, and it hurt to rank them. The only thing that was clear to me throughout was that Heid was my #1 choice, but everyone else rose and fell on my list as I listened and relistened. So here are some reviews!

I'm going to go from the bottom of my rank to the top again.

The Lowest Bitter - I've complained a few times lately that your vocals don't blend well with the musical bed, and I'm happy to report that you seem to have improved in this category! In fact, this would have passed with flying colors in an earlier round, I imagine. What really bugged me about this was the juxtaposition of the formal poetry with the crass language, especially the refrain line "I wanna get it on with you." Also "Fucking in the crepuscule," which I'm not sure you pronounced correctly. I do really like the delay effect in the last verse. This has been your most successful track of the competition (at least, so far... wink), and it hurt me to give it the booby prize.


Balance Lost - Your rankings say it all, I think. The odd numbered judges gave you 2 points, 3 points, and 2 points. The even-numbered judges gave you 7 points and a best-in-show 11 points. Guess which three judges are American? [beleaguered sigh] So look, I felt bad about this ranking too. I know what The Sun is, I know why it sucks, and I get why you'd be frustrated with it. But as an American, this isn't part of the daily fabric of my life, and I didn't emotionally connect with your frustration. And I get that that's not fair - you got penalized, essentially, for venting a personal frustration and speaking your own emotional truth, which run contrary to what I want to reward, and you ended up getting cut basically due to the geographical distribution of the judges. I also wasn't terribly fond of that tritone in your opening line, but that's small potatoes. I guess that's just where we're at in this competition - even the really good songs are landing near the bottom of the heap!


Budget Bears - So, you mentioned that you hoped I'd be okay with you changing genres a bit, and I joked that you'd better start over just to be safe. And then I stressed that I was joking... but now here I am putting this song third from the bottom. That's a pity, but I do feel the need that it's not just because of your genre shift. My biggest gripe is the vocal mix. I get that you're doing the collective narrator thing and they're supposed to sound like droning cultists, but just think there are several key elements of this mix, particularly the group vocals and the drums, that sound TOO distant, and it interferes with my ability to hear the lyrics, to engage with the story. I do like the i-VII-IV-i chord progression, where the major fourth contrasts with the minor tonic to build tension, mystery, and a slight religious connotation (that's why it worked so well for Madonna, too! ;-) ). The weird disengaged handclaps also worked in a way for me, even though they suffer from the same mixing issues as the vocals and the rest of the percussion. But overall, this big swing didn't land very well for me, maybe because you were working in a style that wasn't as familiar to you.


Nick Soma - You rightly wondered what you'd done wrong here. As I'm sure you noticed, I didn't have you in my top half, but I was still really surprised to see your name at the bottom of the stack this round. It's a real pity. As far as I'm concerned, the biggest mistake of this song is that I spent most of it waiting for it to make the leap from "ballad" to "power ballad." And it never quite gets there. But I think that's a me problem; I had to adjust my expectations to what the song was actually doing. I really love the blending of the piano, acoustic guitar, and clarinet. The part with the clarinet and flute before the third verse is especially lovely. It's an ambitious arrangement choice, and it's bold to have such a nakedly sincere lyrical approach and arrangement. I still think some percussion might have pushed this over the edge for me.


Crown Shy - Your voice is lovely as ever, but this time your lyrics struck me as a little strained. I don't think "I shade my eyes against the light" or "Waiting for the sun to fall" sit nicely within the melody you've set for them. The word "sun" particularly didn't suit being stretched out across four syllables. I don't think you failed the challenge by writing two rondels, but I did wonder if maybe writing twice as many lyrics was a choice that didn't serve the song well. I do applaud your choices in genre throughout this competition - you keep shaking it up, and for the most part your mixes have been solid! This is no exception; I really appreciate your driving beat on this one and the guitars throughout. Your tone has just enough bite and it's well performed. Other competitors should take note of your background vocals in this song - they're barely audible, but they provide a lovely texture, proving that you don't need to mix every element specifically to be heard as such for it to work really well!


Brown Word and the Big Whine - I had you in second place on my first listen through. I really like your guitar playing and I found your percussion groove super-compelling! But your vocal is still a little rough; it sounds to me like you might be pushing your voice to the edge of its range and struggling to hit your notes. What I really like about this song is that it has a lot of dynamic range and sections that are especially distinct from one another. One problem I noticed throughout the week was that, even after listening many times, I couldn't remember the melody when I wasn't listening to it, which ultimately dragged you to the middle of the pack.


See-Man-Ski - I really like the ambient plinky piano/synth thing. After the third line, you have a lyric notated in your sheet ("nothing at all") that I straight-up can't hear in the recording. Was that on purpose? Like an implied rhyme or something? (Edit: After noticing it's supposed to be there, and listening specifically for it, I finally heard it, but I'm pretty sure I never would have caught that unless I had known to look for it. It's good to have a lyrics thread, but I also think the songs should be able to stand on their own merits too.) Around the same time as that missing fourth line, the acoustic guitar comes in over the swelling synth, and it's super-evocative, but it also reminds me of something in particular that I can't quite place. Maybe a Beck song, something from Sea Change? The vibe works really well here, but I also think it would have benefitted from a more judicious edit of the lyrics. The lines have widely varying lengths, and though your vocal performance sells them, I think you might have had a winner with lyrics that scanned better and had more of an internal melody to them. There's also the fact that you're short on concrete images. "The lies I told were so absurd / yeah, you made the right judgement call." With more time to edit the lyrics, I bet you could have come up with some specific transgression, or a line of dialogue or some action taken in a fight to really make me feel like I know these characters, or can relate to them somehow. Again, your production and vocal performance sell the lyrics really well, but I'm greedy - I want the specifics, the character moments, AND the great performance/production! Also, I noticed belatedly that your rhyme scheme differed slightly from the formal rondel, but I had already turned in my ranks by that point, so it didn't affect your score.


Moss Palace - It took a little ways into the first listen for this to click with me, but once I realized it's basically an American Songbook style torch song, I was able to embrace this and really feel the performance. Sam, I've heard some of your other music and I've seen you perform live, so I know you to be a generally good singer, but the vocal performance in this song feels a little shaky, lacking in confidence. Perhaps because you wrote a more challenging melody than usual for yourself, or maybe the deadline got the better of you and you didn't have time to get comfortable, but I think that vocal performance is the biggest factor holding this song back. Especially when listeners come in expecting Erin, unfortunately. This genre of song is generally associated with/made famous by men and women who are renowned as singers first and foremost, crooning the sweet sonorous melodies of their ballads, so I think a more confident vocal take would have suited the genre better in addition to just being a good thing to strive for overall. There's so much else to love about this song, and I was honestly shocked to see it cut! I love the jazz guitar. I love the brush drums. I love the chord changes. I love how the lyrics sit in the melody. I love that ii-IV-I resolution over "Missing you another day." Just gorgeous work, and I'm sad to see you go.


Ever Kenievel - This is the third time in Nur Ein history that the challenge has been a strict poetic form. And I admit, this one is a little weirder for me than the other two. I studied creative writing in high school and college. I took years of poetry classes. I know sonnets and villainelles. They're practically second nature; I can feel their form in the same way musicians feel a time signature. But somehow, I'd never even heard of a rondel until it was suggested for this challenge. Maybe I had, but it didn't stick; I certainly don't recall reading many of them. But I did look up what the rondel form is and how it's generally used and interpreted, and after a quick perusal of the lyrics, I was ready to give everyone a pass on their challenge takes here. Except yours. Halfway through the song I was wondering, "Did they just completely fob off the challenge? Is there going to be a circular fountain in the lyrics somewhere?" Finally your spoken-word bridge came, and I was initially puzzled. Is it a fair way to engage with the challenge - to write a conventional pop song with a verse-chorus structure, and to place a rondel in the middle of that structure? On the one hand, this is the only song in the round to have a chorus, and that aids its memorability. On the other hand, remember when I said this?
JonPorobil wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:04 pm
Add's entry broke with the villanelle form by adding a single-line refrain in a couple of places in the song. In spite of breaking the form, Add won the round, a decision that remains controversial to this day (see above). And I don't mind telling you guys, if I'd been a judge that year, I'd have made the same call. I can see that it was risky because the definition of a villanelle is so rigid, but in Jefff's case the risk paid off because, for one, the rest of the song was still very clearly in a villanelle format, but also, Add's "Cassettes" is a fantastic song, and that refrain line is both an emotional climax to it and an excellent hook.
Well, you certainly took that to heart! Of course, the big difference here is that Add simply took the existing form and added a simple refrain at key points. You wrote a whole dang song around the rondel. But in the end, I had to agree that the challenge was met. If have a chorus gave you an advantage, it wasn't an unfair one, because any of the other entrants could have tried this approach. So, onto the song itself! I think your vocal performance is on point, if a bit too forward in the mix. However, your lyrics are chock full of that specificity that I mentioned See-Man-Ski's entry lacking. "Books on tape commute," "Vodka shots for strangers and a couple for herself." "Thursday is the beach / When summertime is over she's not sure what that'll be." These are great details that make the word-picture you're painting pop, and these details stick in our minds. And of course that repetitive hook, which could have been annoying, works really well for me, and is the most memorable hook of the round. The arrangement suits the song brilliantly. So, your gambit paid off!


Max Bombast - A few rounds ago, I suggested miking your guitar strings to double with your electric part. Did you actually do that this time around? In the intro, you've got a satisfyingly crisp electric tone that works really well to ease us into the song before the really heavy stuff kicks in.I watched your video diary of the song, and I was really surprised to see how much of a struggle the lyrics and vocals were for you this time around, because this vocal doesn't sound any more difficult than any of your other songs. It's interesting that in your video, things really start to flow once you start layering those guitars and bass parts - it felt like you went into the zone at that point, and the musical interludes in the song do bear this out. I love hearing the two different guitar registers across the stereo field. I love the 32nd-note grooves before the third stanza, too. You just rocked out and let the metal flow, and the song really came alive when that happened. Superb take on the title and excellent musicianship!


Heid - How? Just... I mean, how? You're like 20 years old, right? How are you writing songs with this fully-formed voice that sounds more mature than any of the rest of us? This song stopped me in my tracks and quieted the world around me while I let it play out. Everyone in this round used the rondel form, but yours actually felt like a subject matter that worked in conversation with the form, where no one else this round did that (except maybe The Lowest Bitter, who used language to push against expectations in a way that didn't work for me). This song, though, it's just total chills from start to finish. Your melody is strong. The lyrics sit wonerfully in the meter. It's a striking lyrical meter, too! You're switching between iambic hexameter and iambic heptameter, both of which are unusual for formal poetry, but I honestly didn't notice it was out of the ordinary until I stopped to count the stresses, at which point I realized that the swap from hexameter to heptameter is a driving force behind the momentum change at the top of the second and third verse. But since the refrain lines are hexameter, that momentum can't stick, and your narrator is forced to quell her passions and sit, in the relative stasis, missing an iamb as she waits for the sun to fall. The historical fiction setting suits this poetic form nicely, and it allows for turns of phrase that might not work in a more conventional pop song, phrases like "So we can meet in secret under lilac trees," or better yet, "These days mundanely wane within these paisley papered halls," the latter of which made me literally gasp when I heard it. And of course, the subject matter, this tender forbidden romance that, once again, plays perfectly to the challenge. Playing this solo piano with only a few background vocals for accompaniment was a daring choice, but I think it was just exactly right for this song, for the intimacy you wanted to convey. What more can I say? You're the real deal, and I think your win this round was well-earned. Congratulations!


I apologize to the shadows. You were all great too, especially Mandibles ( ;) ) and Dented Bento, but now I need to go write some reviews for "The Only Way Out."
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Stages, an album of about dealing with loss, anxiety, and grieving a difficult year, now available on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms! https://jonporobil.bandcamp.com/album/stages
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by Lunkhead »

JonPorobil wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:13 pm
Moss Palace - It took a little ways into the first listen for this to click with me, but once I realized it's basically an American Songbook style torch song, I was able to embrace this and really feel the performance. Sam, I've heard some of your other music and I've seen you perform live, so I know you to be a generally good singer, but the vocal performance in this song feels a little shaky, lacking in confidence. Perhaps because you wrote a more challenging melody than usual for yourself, or maybe the deadline got the better of you and you didn't have time to get comfortable, but I think that vocal performance is the biggest factor holding this song back. Especially when listeners come in expecting Erin, unfortunately. This genre of song is generally associated with/made famous by men and women who are renowned as singers first and foremost, crooning the sweet sonorous melodies of their ballads, so I think a more confident vocal take would have suited the genre better in addition to just being a good thing to strive for overall. There's so much else to love about this song, and I was honestly shocked to see it cut! I love the jazz guitar. I love the brush drums. I love the chord changes. I love how the lyrics sit in the melody. I love that ii-IV-I resolution over "Missing you another day." Just gorgeous work, and I'm sad to see you go.
Thank you for taking the time to write reviews, and substantial ones at that. My mom passed away unexpectedly on the 7th so we were going to drop out. The title resonated with how I was feeling at the end of each very long day that week though. I wrote the lyrics Wednesday night but wound up with just a couple hours of time to record Sunday. Steadying my voice proved to be very challenging under the circumstances. I figured the style choice was a guaranteed miss but I was really just making this song for myself and to avoid dropping out. I got what I wanted out of it.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by Cybronica »

JonPorobil wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:13 pm
Belated reviews!

I apologize to the shadows. You were all great too, especially Mandibles ( ;) ) and Dented Bento, but now I need to go write some reviews for "The Only Way Out."
<3
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by furrypedro »

JonPorobil wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 8:13 pm
Balance Lost - Guess which three judges are American? [beleaguered sigh] So look, I felt bad about this ranking too. I know what The Sun is, I know why it sucks, and I get why you'd be frustrated with it. But as an American, this isn't part of the daily fabric of my life, and I didn't emotionally connect with your frustration. And I get that that's not fair - you got penalized, essentially, for venting a personal frustration and speaking your own emotional truth, which run contrary to what I want to reward, and you ended up getting cut basically due to the geographical distribution of the judges.
Hey Jon, thank you for the reviews.
I'm totally fine with the fact I got cut, but outside the context of the competition I feel the need to respond to your comments above, and also a theme which has cropped up in comments you've made in the past. I want to say I absolutely respect you as a musician and as a person, so I should apologise in advance as some of what I'm about to say may be slightly abusive in tone.

First off, a technicality. I didn't actually mention the name of The Sun newspaper anywhere in my lyrics so it seems obtuse to be unable to apply the sentiment to whatever low-budget media outlet you have might have a distaste for, such as say Fox News. More to the point, what your saying is that you are unable to relate to anything outside your direct personal experience, which I find troubling. In the past you have criticised me in a review for trying too hard to sing in British English, which is an absolutely mind-boggling comment as along with your above sentiments it indicates that you feel that non-American musicians or writers ought to change their way of expression in order to appease American audiences. This is such a stupendously arrogant sentiment. I imagine you don't think of yourself as an arrogant person, and in most exchanges I would say you are not, but on this point I would suggest that you really need to pull your head out of your arse.

If I genuinely got cut because of the judge/geography interface I might as well either give up Nur Ein for good or do an Ian Watkins and fuck bab...err, sing in an American accent.

On the other hand the truth is probably closer to the fact my song wasn't good enough (or as PFJ said "too catchy", which apparently is a thing).
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by glennny »

Don't fret Furrypedro, if I were all 5 judges you'd win Nur Ein every year. You have already won the Song Fighters appearing in my Spotify playlists the most contest. All of your tracks this year were top notch!

big fan.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by furrypedro »

You're too kind, Glen. I'll get to work on those cloning vats to make four more glennnys right away.
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Re: Nur Ein XVI: Round Four "Waiting For The Sun To Fall"

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

furrypedro wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 1:21 am
(or as PFJ said "too catchy", which apparently is a thing).

The full quote is:
It's catchy. Maybe too catchy. I ranked your songs all over the place. Ultimately, it ended up low on the list mainly because it started to suffer a bit on repeated listens...
Have you ever had a catchy tune stuck in your head that you'd do almost anything to get out? I think of the term "bubblegum music" which would be an extreme version of that effect. Well, your song is definitely not bubblegum. It's good. But on repeated listens it was starting to creep toward the starting to stale side for me. Operative words, "for me." One guy's opinion. Who, btw, liked your song.
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