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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Reviews: Emperor Gum

Hey guys this is Gray, normally I lose SpinTunes under the nom de plume of 'Emperor Gum'. Let's start with the Champions. FYI in the UK we call elevators lifts, deal with it. I love the '(they had 10 days)' line, it sounds so judgemental. 'Ten days, huh? That's all they could do. Okay...'

Champions Challenge:
Going Down?: Write a song meant to be played on an elevator. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days)

'Rise' by Governing Dynamics
Your song description includes an Arcade Fire video, that's a dangerous level of pandering to me. ;) The tune evokes being stuck in a lift, a vehicle who's linear progression reflects the inevitably of the world's troubles, yet finding the will to rise in search of something better. The confinement of being in a lift certainly gives me pause me to think. Alas, I don't think this song would ever be played in a lift.

The inspiration is sound but I feel like you didn't quite commit. The dead on the beat kick heralds protest marches fitting for the theme, it could be a relentless backbone to the piece but you dilute it with more traditional rock drumming. You could have mixed in some more industrial sounds to evoke a lift but instead the machine opens the song then is abandoned immediately for some pretty guitar.

The song has excellent progression, powerful rock rising out of a gentler ballad. The effects and high guitar picking at the end made me feel like I'd reached the top floor. You can play beautiful chilled out guitar all day and this is absolutely a good song, I just feel you could have committed to the challenge a little more.

'Wait Right There' by Kevin Savino-Riker
This mellow jazzy piece tips its hat to musak without losing its soul, I can absolutely see myself tapping my foot in a lift to this. The harmonics are a highlight of an exquisite arrangement. The lyrics see the singer promising to answer any call for aid, building a dreamy soundscape. I can see this commitment being made in a light bloom filled room whilst lying in a bed. The punchy “wait right there” lines in the chorus add pleasing dynamics without breaking the flow the piece.

I realise I've written much less for this piece than for GD. This was really good stuff, spot on tackling of the challenge. I'm not sure what else to say... two thumbs up!


Shadows Challenge:
Unstable: Write a song about losing control. It can mean losing your temper, losing control over something physical, etc...etc… This is not just a topical challenge, meaning the music itself should give the impression that someone is losing control. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days)

'Dementia' by Heather Zink
I've wanted to write a song about dementia for years so it was great to hear someone pull it off so well. The stark piano complements the gorgeous vocal harmonies perfectly to create a haunting ominous tone that puts a weight in my stomach. The lyrics are excellent too, accurately depicting the exact mental atrophy that makes the illness so horrifying. Wonderful stuff!

'Master Of My Destiny' by You Ben Taggart
Maintaining one's cool in a world riddled with frustrations and stupidly is truly a hopeless task. Continuously bringing the lyrics back to “the master of my destiny” anchors the song as it serves as the singer's mantra. You went for comedy and I laughed out loud. The vocals had good variety and lent the words strength, but I felt the endless guitar loop (though pretty) could have used some variety. At around the forty five second mark it sounded like you were about to add some bass drumming to the beat, a few touches like that would have lifted the arrangement greatly.

'You Remind Me' by Mick Bordet
Interesting, another song about dementia? The lyrics are subtle, suggesting the theme before confirming it as the piece disintegrates into illness at the end. Whilst there's a good variety of instruments nothing really stands out, the arrangement feels dreary and drags out... which is how the illness works. Its exactly the songwriting trap I worried about when I've tried to write about this theme. Its tricky to criticise and this is certainly a good effort, ultimately I think that Zink did better with the same idea.

'I'm So Stable' by Rob From Amersfoort
The singer desperately chants “I'm so stable” as the lyrics grow more paranoid and peculiar in their metaphors. The arrangement is solid, with the rampant bass and mix of vocal effects standouts. The tempo collapse part way through is masterful but I feel as though it strikes in too early. Its feels like the song should end with this trick, perhaps switching places with the eerie sci-fi synth towards the end.

'Instability' by Boffo Yux Dudes
Musically this is quite possibly number one. The cool synths evaporate into a spritely rhythm. The excellent melody, adorned with nice harmonies, duals with a snarling electric guitar. The chorus is particularly good, the most memorable thing from both sides of the whole round. I was worried you'd cop out and fade out the ending but some Bellamy-esque guitar madness capped it beautifully as the music itself loses control. BUT... I don't think the lyrics really meet the challenge as strongly as the competition. The singer wants to lose control to make connections but I never felt this ever happens in the words. Still a really good song, though. :)

Good work everybody, real nice work. :D

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