Kitchen Consultation: Fred Akerstrand – Lies Remix

This consultation has been published with the kind permission of Fed Akerstrand.

Download or listen to the song ‘Lies Remix’ here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8068578/Kitchen/Fred%20Akerstrand%20-%20Lies%20Remix.mp3

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Overall, this track has a lot of potential. It wouldn’t take much to make a significant improvement.

Composition

The main compositional weakness here is that the track is simply too long. It’s over seven minutes long, but probably has enough musical material to sustain it for perhaps four minutes.

In particular, there are three sections which take a long time to present very little. They are the intro (0:00-0:57), the ‘second verse’ (1:52-2:49) and the ending (5:10-7:17). Both the intro and the second verse are almost a minute long but don’t contribute much to the overall contour of the track – it’s as if the listener is stationary for those periods.

The intro plays an important role in introducing the track. By taking so long to do so, however, the energy and anticipation simply dissipates. The second verse in particular makes a musical statement that only requires about eight bars – not a whole minute. Like the intro, the ending plays an important role in the track, but taking over two minutes to wind down makes it likely that the listener loses interest before the track has ended.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to address these issues. Simply condensing these sections down to more appropriate lengths will do wonders for the momentum and contour of the track as a whole.

There are two other ways in which the composition of the track could be improved, but these are relatively minor. The first is in the vocals in the breakdown section (3:18-3:46). The harmonies work well most of the time, but occasionally the two vocal lines sing the same note in unison. This has the strange effect of making two voices suddenly and briefly sound as a single voice. It’s distracting and unsettling. If you were to address  this, I’d suggest changing either the melody or harmony so that they don’t have any unison notes.

The second relatively minor issue is the timing of the side chain compression. Compared to the other rhythmic elements, the side chain compression feels like it’s swinging too much. A little bit of swing is often beneficial to a track’s groove, but in this case it feels inconsistent with the other instruments. I suggest changing the timing of the side chain compression so that it swings a little less, or alternatively you could modify the groove of some of the other instruments (especially the hats) to swing more consistently with the side chain compression.

Mix

Overall, the mix isn’t too bad. The only two issues are the vocal sound and the subbass level.

Generally, the vocals lack intelligibility. This could be because your monitoring environment is very forward in the mids or because you simply went too far in ‘smoothing’ the vocal by cutting the mids. The fix here is simple – bring back the mids. This is where the character and intelligibility resides. You can still keep the soft and smooth sound – you don’t need to boost so much that it becomes honky.

The other issue is the subbass level. It’s slightly too loud. This is most likely a result of your monitoring environment having relatively weak subbass. In the short term, you should be more active in referencing your mixes to commercial releases while you work. Over the longer term, you can improve your monitoring environment. Depending on your studio, this might include acoustic treatment, adopting full-range monitors or adding a sub.

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This is an example of a single Kitchen consultation. If you would find this kind of feedback useful for your own music, get in touch with me.

– $20 will get you one consultation (basically the same as this example, but in private, with your music).

– $50 will get you three consultations or one studio demo (where I do an example edit or mix of your music to better demonstrate how some concepts would apply to your music)

– $100 will get you seven consultations or two studio demos.

The consultations can be for multiple songs or multiple revisions of one song. It’s up to you.

You can read more about the Kitchen here: http://kimlajoie.com/site/kitchen.html

When you’re ready, send me an email to kitchen at kimlajoie dot com.

-Kim.

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    • Hari Seldon
    • October 7th, 2011

    Listening to the track right now. I’m a newb so I don’t know what sidechain compression is, but I do agree about the long beginning and slightly muddled vocals. I do like the song though!

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