WMR Review of "The Two Become One"

As it appears at WMR.

                           "The Two Become One"

                        by The Virtual Reality Band

                             (12ch XM, 03:48)
                         (vrb-two.zip [133K/285K])


"Two independent melodies brought together in the end, the total being more
than the sum of the parts.  A marriage in music.  Just missed moving on to
                  round 2 in the Rookie division of MC5."
                                                 [The Virtual Reality Band]

       ! 2nd strata finisher in Music Contest 5's Rookie division !

                                  Samples -----------------.
                              Originality -------------.   |
                                Technical ---------.   |   |
                              Composition -----.   |   |   |
                                  Overall -.   |   |   |   |
                                           |   |   |   |   |
                                           |   |   |   |   |

              Walrus26                    90+ 92  95  85  90
              Mansooj                     74+ 75  --  77  70
              WolfSong                    72= 81  76  77  92
              Nemesis                     60+ 75  63  47  55
              Cubix                       60= --  --  75  40
              Anders Akerheden            54= 58  57  64  47
              Peraphon                    53- --  --  --  88
              Skullsaw                    20- 30  25  10  25

)-----------------------========[ Mansooj ]========-----------------------(

  This is The VR Band's second release, and also his/their (urg...another
composer with a multiply split personality ;)) second module to be covered
 by the WMR.  His initial two products are divergent in two ways:  they're
    both not in any of the most common styles chosen by rookie trackers
 (techno, trance, ballad...), and, fortunately, they're also good quality.
I think they're first release, Tuzie, shows that a first release can easily
 build some polish before going out the door.  The usual process seems to
  be:  see rookie get tracker, see rookie track rough draft of track, see
                   rookie distribute rough track widely.

TTBO is light listening music, sort of poppy, sort of light jazzy with use
of plenty of horns.  Its upbeat and happy-go-lucky nature is quite catchy,
  and it doesn't hurt that the arrangement is surprisingly skillful for a
 second release.  It moves along smoothly from an early laidback sequence
led by an electric piano (though the focus is split almost equally amongst
      a set of instruments) through to an up-tempo change featuring a
 well-articulated sax backed up by organ.  Throughout, there are plenty of
 visits from a brass section which helps keep the lustre on the tune, and
 also helping in that area, the track is graced by a drumtrack laden with
                         lots of twists and turns.

The sample set was rather small, being only thirteen instruments, over half
of which are in the percussion set.  However, having said that, credit goes
 to the composer for creating a tune with a surprising amount of richness
for the ingredients.  As to the quality, although I didn't notice anything
odd in specific, the whole tune had a sort of shiny veneer--almost plastic
  in the way some MIDI tunes sound.  As if, despite the fact that there's
 quite a few sounds in the mix, each is tightly wrapped and kept discrete.

  One other thing about the samples, or rather use of a sample:  I'm not
  quite sure, but the way one guitar sample was used doesn't sound quite
right--more like a piano than a guitar.  Although I noticed this right near
 the intro, it didn't distract enough to be a legitimate gripe.  The only
other non-sample related quibble has to do with the fadeout ending:  it was
a little too quick.  I think if you're going to use that simple technique,
    the song shouldn't be gone before you fully realize it's going....

 Minor faults in an otherwise good quality tune.  For those with a lighter
  disposition and a penchant for horns and upbeat moods, this is a worthy
              package to drop into your next download basket.

)-----------------------========[ Nemesis ]========-----------------------(

    Now, I'd heard Tuzie by this person or band, or whoever it is, and
recognized the musical skill, though it sounded a bit schizophrenic (due to
 multiple people having parts in writing it, I assumed).  This module is a
    bit more impressive, I think, and doesnt quite suffer from the same
 schizophrenia that Tuzie did.  There are, however, a few shortcomings and
                      we'll cover those in a moment.

    The song starts out with a brass lead-in to a short intro-part, and
immediately noticeable is the guitar sample, which keeps banging out chords
as if it were a piano.  In my experience, it's generally not a good idea to
  use guitar samples in such a way, since you end up sounding quite a bit
 less realistic than if you had just used a piano instead.  Guitars have a
 completely different way of being played than pianos, (duh :P), and it is
 rather common to see them played like pianos in tracked music, which gets
 pretty damned annoying sometimes.  (Not like I'm not a culprit of this as
  well, though.  At least in my earlier work, you see guitars played like
                           pianos all the time.)

 That said, the electric piano that plays the main melody is nicely done,
 though the melody itself sounds very cliche.  The hi-hat sample, however,
 is terribly old, dating way, way back (though I have nothing against old
   samples...some of them are quite good; just not this one), and sounds
   nothing like a hi-hat.  The rest of the drums, though the samples are
 grossly overused, are functional, with a few fills here and there, and a
 sometimes overactive crash cymbal.  The song structure is well developed,
though simple, as it goes from verse to chorus to verse to chorus.  In the
second half of the song, a sax solo picks up the pace (literally, the song
  speeds up...it's a well done transition), with some nice melodies as it
flies along the scales.  The solo sounds a bit too cliche for my tastes, in
              some places, but all in all, it's a good solo.

Now, this song is definitely a step up from Tuzie, in my opinion, but it's
  main problem (now that I've listened to it through a few more times) is
   that it sounds like the intro theme to some 80's sitcom.  The song is
 pleasing to listen to, if you're into the style, and shows some definite
 musical talent, however cliche the melodies may sound.  Oh, and though it
     shares the title of a song by the dreaded Spice Girls (aaaugh!),
      thankfully, it's not a remix or a cover or anything like that.

)----------------------========[ Walrus26 ]========-----------------------(


       That's the word that enters my head every time I listen to to
 The Two Become One.  This creates such an excellent feel, that looking at
my tiled floor while listening made me believe that I was walking down the
aisles of a grocery store.  There was such an overwhelming attention to the
individual instruments, including an amazing bass line, that it was hard to
  tell at times that the music I was listening to was computer generated.
 The instruments selection lends this song an extra hint of reality, from
 the interplay of rimshot and snare to the switch in rhythmic support from
 guitar to organ in the saxophone solo.  Coupled with good song structure
  and a solid melodic basis, this second release from the Virtual Reality
                     Band gave me a tune to recommend.

   The only faults I can find with this module are ticky-tack, personal
 annoyances.  Every time the chorus comes around, there is a B minor chord
used in transition that consistantly bugs me, since the F# is not diatonic
 or found in any of the relevant parallel modes.  A G minor seventh, an E
half diminished, or even a plain old Bb major triad would have jived a bit
    better.  The tempo shift at order 12 offered a good lead-in for the
 saxophone solo.  The only problem was that the tempo didn't return to the
   original when the chorus did.  The whole song beyond the solo sounded
  slightly rushed.  The sax solo itself was well tracked, but never quite
  sounded like a true saxophone.  This is very excusable, because I have
  never heard a properly sampled saxophone.  And finally, the concluding
fadeout seemed a bit rushed, and possibly unnecessary.  A module like this
               one could have easily ended with a solid hit.

)----------------------========[ WolfSong ]========-----------------------(

    Whoa!  I don't quite know what to say about this one.  This has the
  background of a 70's pop song and the melody of a tune you'd hear on a
 children's television show.  Though as surprising as this may sound, it's
rather pleasant to listen to (either that or I'm just a very twisted guy).

   All of the instruments used in this song are synthesized versions of
traditional instruments.  Sax, horns, bass, electric pianos, drums, guitars
 and all.  Some might say that it would make for a synthetic sound but, be
       that as it may, the samples are crystal clear because of it.

   The song is built solidly and supports its very hummable melody well.
 There is nothing profound or revolutionary about the chords or music and,
in fact, they're a fairly basic progression with nothing surprising, though
           this is not to say that it was boring or predictable.

  There were a few mixing errors in the song.  At times a piece that was
  playing would have some element added to it and the background would be
            brought down, but a little too much in my opinion.

It says in the song message that the song placed 11-20 in MC5 which doesn't
 surprise me.  It is certainly an above average song and I can see how it
would be likable.  There's almost nothing about it to pick on, technically,
but to be honest, it was too happy-bouncy for me.  Almost to a corny level.
 I know it's a little too much when the only image I can conjure up in my
        head to go with it are scenes from Thomas the Tank Engine.

However, I don't want to pick on this song too much because even though it
was a little out of my taste range, it's still a quite respectable piece of
  work.  Download if you like happy stuff or just a good sounding module.

)------------------========[ Anders Akerheden ]========-------------------(

First, I must say this is a fairly tricky song to judge.  The style is some
kind of combination of ballad, pop and easy-listening.  Actually, it sounds
somewhat like a demo song from some Casio keyboard, only not quite so bad,
heh.  On startup, I become enormously annoyed.  The thing that bothers me,
 is an awful, squeaky brass-sound, used in the intro.  It reminds me of a
 brass used by Purple Motion in Soul-o-Matic, though this sounds much more
 dry, and slightly out of tune.  At least, it doesn't really fit with the
 rest of the samples.  Unfortunately, the VR Band itself seems to enjoy it
                    heaps, since it is utilized plenty.

Well, not to get stuck on that very detail.  The Two Become One, is a cute
 little tune, and though the samples don't really thrill me, they probably
 suit this type of tune.  I just wish they'd have been of higher quality.
 It's not that they're full of crackling noise, or something, they're just
not crisp enough to make a really good impression.  Maybe if they had dared
to use bigger samples?  The first part of the song is rather slow and after
 two minutes or so the feeling gets a lot groovier.  The same goes for the
drums.  I think it would have been ideal to put some voice samples to this
song as it fairly much works best as accompaniment (background) music.  And
 the chords and melody are not really startling, either.  So lyrics would
  probably add that extra touch to it.  Though, since it's a fairly small
 tune, I'd say it's worth a listen if you really enjoy this type of music.

)----------------------========[ Peraphon ]========-----------------------(

  Another offering from the VR Band.  This one sounds just as much like a
 MIDI in XM clothing as Tuzie did.  This song does have a very jazzy, big
  band feel to it through use of a saxophone, other brass instruments and
 guitar.  This jazz sound does go through some change, as some synths come
                                into play.

  The song starts off very brassy, and moves to some very solid acoustic
  guitar accompanied by a non-intrusive bass and fairly quiet percussion.
 The song changes pace around a third of the way in, becoming a little bit
 quicker than before and featuring more sax and more intricate drum work.
The song maintains this increased pace until the end.  There is no real end
   to the song, though, as it just seems to be a series of global volume
 fades.  Something definite at the end would have made this song a little
                              more memorable.

Fortunately, the samples sound a lot better than the standard GUS patches.
 The samples are of a very high standard, and they boost the song quite a
bit.  The samples sound extremely appropriate for what the VR Band is doing
with this song.  I heard no faults in them--no clicking, hissing or ringing
 at all.  Very impressive; and even at lower mixing rates (around 22kHz),
                   the samples still sounded faultless.

  The song seems to have a very full and rich tone, and covers the sound
 spectrum well.  Overall, I'd have to say that if you're not a fan of jazz
  or MIDI music stylings then steer well clear.  On the other hand, I do
        think it would hold appeal to fans of this style of music.

)----------------------========[ Skullsaw ]========-----------------------(

There's so much not to like about this piece.  At the very top of the list
   is the cheez factor of the samples.  Next in line is the lightweight
                composition and finally the overall sound.

The Two Become One has a General Midi sound to it, all of the samples sound
    like they were taken from a bottom-of-the-line PC soundcard.  Major
  offenders include a lame sax, a strumming guitar(?) and terribly wimpy
 drums.  There is a decent electric piano but that's not nearly enough to
                    make up for the rest of the cheez.

The tune itself is a light pop instrumental that exists only as an exercise
as I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to pop this up to listen to for
  any reason.  This is the definition of a throwaway mod, it makes Yanni
    sound like Ministry.  The composer does show some arranging skills,
    instruments trade licks, the bass is melodic and has quite a bit of
  movement.  Come to think of it, this sounds like it could be a homework
 assignment for an arranging class.  No matter, it is still a lousy tune.

The mix is as wimpy as the samples and tune.  The drums are down low in the
           background.  The overall sound is limp and lifeless.

   Do what you want to the girl but for God's sake leave this one alone.

)------------------------========[ Cubix ]========------------------------(

 This module is a play of two melodies competing with one another for the
  position of main melody.  At times, this play of melodies does not feel
 quite appropriate, being an uneasy mash of notes and repetitive measures.
  Also, this piece's samples need some cleaning up.  With fuzzy tones and
   midi-like sounds, this work seems more like a calliope at times and a
 merry-go-round at others.  I am also left unclear as to what feeling the
    composer is trying to convey to the audience because the song ends
abruptly, leaving a feeling of neutrality.  This song didn't come across as
  moving, beautiful, or as having any emotional feeling, and is one I can
         safely recommend to listeners as one worth passing over.


Payton Place
Places Essays Games Music
Countdown Cams Weather Tinting