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Audio Refugees • View topic - Midnight #5

Midnight #5

The old AudioRefugee Review Forum - where we kept the fire burning for a few years while we were building the Audiopolis Review System and website.

Midnight #5

Postby slywitt » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:11 am

The last version of this seemed to get a lot of comments about it being 'crazed' with 'dated' synths so I wanted to try a bit more organic approach. Our friend ji was a great help, as always. He added guitars, backing vocals, drums, bass, and mixing. I simply did some keys and sang. The idea for the flute is from peeve's comment on the old version. The intro was someone elses suggestion. This has gone through so many different iterations since you last heard it. There was even one orchestral version. I think this one kind of captures the spirit I feel when I think of this tune.
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby mistertroll » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:49 am

I like the feel of this. It is, for me, another throwback to the late sixties and early seventies, which is undeniably my favorite era in American music. It brings to mind Biff Rose, Randy Newman, maybe even Mickey Newbury and Leon Russell.

Repeated listens reveal some very nice subtle touches.

I could comment on this and that, but looking at the big picture, I see this as a song that grows on the listener with repeated listens. Not an obvious masterpiece at first, but a bit of an ear worm after a few repeats.
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby Jay » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:07 am

I'm glad you didn't change the compositional content of this; I absolutely love your melodic/harmonic choices in this. This version is obviously better produced, but I don't really like it better. I feel like there's somewhere between this version and your last that's the perfect place for this tune. I think your orchestral approach in the first version suits this better and that improving it was just a matter of getting the right sounds and creating a more dynamic arrangement.

The jazzy approach on this version doesn't really work for me; I don't feel it supports the drama of the melody. (As an aside, I think trying to do sequenced jazz drumming is almost a fool's errand -- the subtlety required to create a convincing jazz drumming part is such that it requires excellent programming chops and great patience.) I like your vocal delivery better in the first version as well.

I don't know if you have it in you, sly, but I'd like to hear you try the orchestral approach again and just work on the sounds, the arrangement, and the production. It's really an excellent song that just needs the right touch.
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby steban » Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:08 pm

I enjoyed the original, sly, still do, it has the eery mood in its melody, and it feels good.

However, this new version, aside from how well the jazzy drums are working, has a lot of ear candy detail, and I agree, it does retain the feel of the original. It is probably because I don't listen to jazz with a knowledgeable critical ear, so if it sounds fine I go with it. I find myself in this case being more attracted to this new version. Ji's vocal harmony and guitar is slick, the flute is quite pleasant and pied piperish. Even the grandfather clock chiming intro is cool.

There is some similarity in the piano line to some other song at one point right after the 'midnight' line, and yet it is certainly obscure, so I doubt anyone will pick up on it, and it sure works perfectly here.

It may have jazz in its soul, but this is more art rock to me, jazz can often be too angular, too technical, this is all softened up and geared for regular listeners.
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby Jay » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:25 pm

Prunes!
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby cjdenecia » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:21 pm

I had to go back and listen to the original version to be able to compare the 2 properly. there's things about this version that are better and things that aren't.

to start with, if you absolutely must incorporate the clock and chimings into the song, it belongs on the outro. NOT the intro ... and there's no reason to have it in a different key than the song. it's not dissonance as much as distraction. and personally, as a statement, I think it'd be more powerful at the end ...

now - as to overall production, partially cus the first version was so completely mashed, this version is obviously better, mostly clean and clear and easy to listen to but not too exciting. some of that having to do with the new instrumental arrangement I think ... it being straight forward and conventional while the song isn't exactly.

on the drums ... well .. it's not an easy beat to be sure and tho I don't have an exact bitch, I also don't find them leading me to toe tapping so much. and the bass could be soooo much more than what it is on this! the runs and walks that don't exist scream out to be played, especially on this piano/acoustic guitar version that is pretty tame.

on that note, I don't like the flute at all ... early on, it's legit enough but as it goes on, it ends up smelling, looking, tasting and feeling midi. if it's gonna be an organic vibed keyboard, why not a rhoades or a hammond? or maybe even an electric guitar with some decent tube sound? but the "parts" themselves are straight up right on.

the piano itself continues to be the core of the song besides your vocal and I find it probably doesn't need the distraction of the acoustic guitar to hide it's frequencies even tho I actually do like the recorded sound of the acoustic and the part itself. I just wonder if a little restraint might have been in order on it (acoustic git)... if it were all keyboards - like the original (more or less) it probably needed a busier arrangement but with this roots arrangement, I think less would have been better.

and wow, I can't believe I'm saying this but I think I preferred the keyboard solo over the acoustic solo. there's not a damn thing wrong with the acoustic lead but it doesn't have the riffy standout vibe of the original by any stretch of the imagination.

in reality, what's happened to the song is it's become just a smidge generic. though it was hard to hear through the horrid production of the first version, this version has lost the "edge". no diss when I say it has become a bit more shankarji than slywitt on the instrumental side of things and although that is good, it might not be as goose bumpy and exciting.

the area that retains it's magic and maybe even improves on it is your vocal. it's seemingly tighter and more solid. from the lows to the highs you seem to have more control and it's certainly captured better. shankarji's harmonies are fine and all in all add well to the vocal mix except I think there's just too much of them. once in a while, level wise, but more in that if his backing vocals overlap while you're not while on lead vocal, there's something amiss in my vocal arrangement mind for it.

so that's a lot of iffy not so great criticisms but there's still a lot to like about this version and to be fair, if it was the only one I'd ever heard, it might be a bit too much chillum/charas for a slywitt song but the overall impression would have been very good if not a bit vanilla.

there's just not much raw slywitt left and as good as shankarji is, I miss that edgy more reckless sound that slywitt comes up with.

mix 6 of this albatross?
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby slywitt » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:24 am

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Re: Midnight #5

Postby cjdenecia » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:57 am

you can't handle the truth.

nor do you want to ...
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby Krispy » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:51 am

To save time, assume I know everything
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Re: Midnight #5

Postby Steve Ison » Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:56 pm

Well i agree with Jay and Kim that this version dosn't support the drama of your delivery-I went back and played the old version and much prefer it..Its got a real edge and sense of tension intrinsic in the tune-maximised by your kinda chaotic wurlitzer on acid production n rock drums that this really lacks..
Its like comparing Iggy Pops version of China Girl (which i infinitely prefer) to Bowies-ok maybe not that extreme-but you know what i mean..
I'm sure if you'd played this version as the original i'd've loved it just 'cos its such an obviously really cool song with great chords n melody-but definitely-even tho the harmonies are nice on their own and Shanks guitars good-my heart belongs to the first
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