Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Song of the Week 30: 'Resolution' by Oliver Sadie

Here's the next song of the week and this time we're doing something a little different. For the first time since we revived Song of the Week as an actual weekly series I'll be taking a look at some non-OCR related music (I kinda consider Protagonist Records OCR related because OCR is where I first heard about it). This week's track comes from Oliver Sadie, another artist who uses Nanostudio. I first found Oliver Sadie while browsing Blip Interactive's Nanostudio contest submissions (not sure what happened to the original page for that) and his track immediately jumped out at me because it incorporated some fantastic piano work that the track was based around. I started following him after I created my soundcloud account and soon afterwards I downloaded a great deal of his piano music found on his home website (it's under discogs for his soundcloud page). It wasn't until I decided I really wanted to do Song of the Week featuring one of his tracks that I finally contacted him. Granted this isn't the first time I've put hyperlinks on this site linking to Oliver Sadie. If you bother to try the abundance of hyperlinks I love throwing on my Song of the Week posts you'd have discovered him via this post. Anyway, this week I'll be taking a look at one of his more recent tracks with the title Resolution. Resolution is the first track I found from Mr. Sadie where the electronic elements and ambiance weren't based off of the preexisting piano track. One of the reasons I chose Resolution is because it was so good that I wouldn't be able to tell it was Nanostudio just by listening to it. Regardless, this is enough of a precursor as it is, let's listen to the track...

This track fades in with some major key light synth action. At 0:10 we've got a subtle roll transition (I never know what to call those, cymbal just sounds too blatant) that introduces reinforcing layers to the pulsing light synth that the track began with. We've also got a very nice bassline going already that slides up quickly, but with subtlety. I tend to find that tracks that are very subtle about introduction and change tend to be my favorites and here's yet another reason why I feel mainstream music often falls drastically short of my expectations. The drum computer kicks in at 0:21 adding a laid back feel. The bass drum has very little bass and it works well with the quiet hi-hat and the casually delayed snare. Overall the elements here make for the ambiance that I try so hard and yet fail to create on Nanostudio. I'm loving the drum sample choice and the open hi-hat placing that changes every few measures between alternate cycles. It's the little things like that that really put something together and often times we just take it for granted when listening to experienced music composers. 0:31 introduces the melody line on a high synth that has further delay and reverb effects to add to the ambiance. The melody is pretty major here, right now we're running on the "positive energies of the major key" without really delving into the dark side of life. The melody plays twice (there might be some additional layering added in the background after the first cycle or the volume just increases, hard to tell) before being joined by a lower counter-melody at 0:53 that uses the same synth. At 1:04 the high melody line drops in favor of a new route but it still maintains the counter-melody from before. This alternates at about 1:15 as the high melody line takes its original course and the new route is taken up by the lower melody line (referred to as the counter-melody earlier). At 1:25 we've got a transition that drops the bassline and snare-bass duo for a bit. This section has some good ambiance with the already pulsing background and the alternating melody lines that take a new route. On the whole, this is a great forerunner for what's to come in the track. At 1:46 the snare-bass duo is picked up again but the bassline only pulses a single note this time instead of its previous method. This is sort of a relax section where the primary note of the key is supported by the atmospheric synths. It's a good pause in order to enjoy the atmosphere of the track before new elements are added. Also check out 1:57, since Oliver Sadie himself might be reading this I must ask: Is that by any chance related to Mobile Phones? 'cause it really sounds like a very clever edit on the preset mobile phones sample synth that comes with Nanostudio. Regardless, I love it, slick addition to the atmosphere. At 2:08 the drums and bass back out in order to give rise to the piano. The piano really adds feeling to this track by working with the atmospheric synth elements in rapid note patterns that reinforce melodies previously heard with the high synth lead. At 2:18 the original bassline and the drums are reintroduced now with the piano at full strength. This has to be my favorite part, that really shines when the piano hammers in chords in accordance with the other action in the track. You'll also see the high synth come in quietly and then at 2:29 the original melody returns. Now we're working with a well established structure. These elements continue and now we've got some fantastic piano reinforcement that seems to be panned right (this is at 2:40). Things are really working together here and then they're deconstructed for a well placed atmospheric break at 3:01 that allows us to enjoy the growing intimacy of the piano and the synth melody lead. Good piano reinforcement now added to the "relax" section I mentioned earlier that also features the atmospheric "mobile phones-esque" synth (for lack of a better word). At 3:44 there's a good piano chord that signals the fading out of all other elements other than the piano. Great piano solo ebbs and flows until the synth fades back in at around 4:50. Now it's like we're being reintroduced to this track in a whole new way. The synth repeats from before but you can almost here work off of the piano now whereas before it seemed that the piano was working off of the synth. The track fades out with just the atmospheric elements left. This is very well put together, especially considering it was made with Nanostudio.

Pros: Subtlety and sound design are key factors here. This track could've been a lot worse if things weren't placed in the right spot at the right time and quite honestly this is the best possible track you can make with the given elements. My favorite sections tend to be right as the piano and synth begin to work in tandem with the piano giving some very important and powerful reinforcing chords that bring feeling to the piece. I'm also very impressed that this is a 6 minute 12 second song with Nanostudio that stays very interesting and layered. I didn't really give as much description of the end during my writeup, but it's one of my favorite parts because everything comes together and deconstructs very well.

Cons: I mentioned sound design as a pro which it is, but personally speaking the high lead melody synth is a little too high for my taste. It contrasts too much with the laid back feel of the piece. The other issue I might take with this track is the song title. It's a nice laid back piece, but when I hear the word resolution I think some very deep and dark minor/diminished beginning that eventually finds some balance between minor and major keys. I can't really complain though because I'm not exactly the master at naming my own songs. The idea of naming a song along the paths it takes is a very well thought out one and usually difficult to do for most songs let alone an entire album in my opinion. Zircon happens to be the only artist I've ran across so far whose titles seem to almost always hit exactly what his tracks are about (i.e. Downtown, Endorphin, Mindbender, and Depth Charge are just a few examples from his second and third albums).

Overall: Best track I've ever heard created with Nanostudio. Granted the rating system here is sort of bogus because you can't really compare very different songs just using numbers. However, the rating I'd assign to this is based on the fact that I would have it compete with some of the tracks I've done writeups for in the past.

Rating: 8.8


BlessedJenks4 said...

That just made my heart smile! Oliver is my dear brother!! He IS fantastic!!

Oliver said...

Thank you for this review Met, it's a really insightful analysis of a piece I thoroughly enjoyed making - your time and effort is much appreciated.