The Lonely Karmic Cop

February 22, 2013 12:00 AM

Cover of Radiohead's "Karma Police" for the major/minor challenge.

First, a word. The original song sort of defies simple switching of the chords. There's a lot going on with the progressions and the vocal line and the bass line and I actually had like a whole page of analysis written up and then my computer did a barrel roll and I forgot to save it so I decided to just go for it instead.

So it may not fully follow the letter of the challenge --not all the chords are changed in a way that necessarily makes sense, I screwed with the melody a bit, etc-- but I like to think it keeps the spirit (also it's kind of a continuation of the OK Computer Challenge we did last summer, which was my favorite challenge EVAR).


posted by Doleful Creature (12 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

I really like this.

feedback/criticism: I think the piano could come up just a bit relative to the vox. Your voice is sort of in the same range as the chords, so I would probably EQ a slight dip in the piano at 1kHz. Not a sharp notch, just a little dip, down about a dB or two. Then I'd boost its midrange, with a slightly larger bell. Try around 500Hz and move it up and down. I would also boost around 3kHz in the strings - they're your "background vocals" and you want there to be a little bite, but not so much that it competes with the voice.

if you highpass the send to the reverb, you can reduce the amount of mouth noise/room noise that is going to your "echo chamber". Also, generally speaking, mouth noise - little clicks and pops of saliva in the mouth - is the same volume regardless of how loud you're talking. So singing louder = increasing the signal to noise ratio. It's something that plagues my stuff because I tend to sing quietly and then compress a lot. Your singing sounds a lot better + more proficient to me, so don't be afraid to sing a bit louder.

I usually roll off a little bass and treble on all my reverbs. Recording to tape naturally reduces some of the highs - i fake this in the computer by creating a little shelving eq that rolls off starting around 9k, just bringing it down a couple dB.

The bass end of the strings sounds good but get a little boomy toward the end, on the "i lost myself" bits. I would try a highpass around 80-100 Hz, and move it up till you feel like things sound a little thin, then back it down.

Hopefully this is helpful. If anything here is confusing, or I used unfamiliar terminology, I'm happy to explain further. If you're interested, I would also be willing to take the files, make changes, and send screenshots of what I did.

Overall, great job. I really like your playing and singing, so post more.
posted by dubold at 1:32 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks! Yes it's quite helpful. EQ is definitely a weak spot for me. The vox would have been louder but it was night and my kids were sleeping in the adjacent room.

If I get a chance to send you the files, do want them completely FX-less or just EQ-less?
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:56 AM on February 22, 2013

Probably easiest to skip the effects and I'll just refer back to this mix as a reference point?
posted by dubold at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2013

Ok that works. I'm at work now but will memail you a dropbox link later tonight. By the way, what DAW are you using?

Thanks again, this is incredibly kind of you to provide such feedback and help.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2013

A great version. Love the vocals because they feel real and in the moment.
The strings aren't necessary, in my opinion, and kind of wreck it for me.
posted by chococat at 12:10 AM on February 23, 2013

Ack, they don't "wreck it;" I apologize for the hasty and thoughtless choice of words. For me, there's a struggle between the vocals and the software instruments, particularly the strings. I think they pull me out of the "realness" that you set up with the singing.
In any case, I really like the interpretation.
posted by chococat at 7:48 AM on February 23, 2013

It's a fantastic re-imagining of the song. I like it better than the original. And the tonality of your voice is amazing. Agree about losing the strings.
posted by unSane at 10:24 AM on February 23, 2013

Thanks for all the feedback. Interesting that you guys aren't crazy about the strings...I really liked them! 'Course I've always had a problem with sense of proportion, and obviously as dubold points out they're poorly mixed.

Would it have been better with like a string quartet (and not sampled), or are y'all saying it should just be piano only?
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:15 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it's just the unorganic ness of the synth strings. A real quartet or a wheezy mellotron sample would be great. The part is very well written and it does open up the song and fill the bottom end.
posted by unSane at 4:24 AM on February 24, 2013

Great job and yeah, definitely a challenging choice for the minor/major change. You've got a really great voice, pretty but thankfully not perfect. I think the strings, for me, are just too movie soundtracky, and that is how most synth strings sound to me. If I were to suggest a switch, maybe a stand up bass?

The shift for the ending is perfect.
posted by Corduroy at 5:05 AM on February 25, 2013

This is all really excellent feedback, thank you so much. I'm already thinking about doing a revised version with some different, more organic instrumentation. We'll.

Oh yeah, Corduroy, I kind of stumbled on that shift for the end and I was like "oh yes this is exactly what the song needs". Glad you liked it!
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is really really really good.

I'd agree with the other suggestions that you take a whack at a more "organic" sound for the string parts - I like the idea of the parts, it's just the sound (as per unSane) that doesn't mesh all that well with the voice & piano.

And just a minor mix note - it kinda felt like it ended a little abruptly, which after several re-listens I think is because you started fading out @ about 3:30, before the last chord hits. Maybe just go ahead and hit that last chord and let the whole tune die out naturally.

But yeah, a really great interpretation of this song.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2013

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