Artist Name: Neal Fox Title: A Message From Shanghai Genre: Progressive Pop Rating:
DAW – Digital Performer 9.5 on a Mac Pro; Audio Interface – Apogee Firewire Duet; Monitors – KRK and Klipsch THX Computer monitors, iPhone w/ and w/out earbuds; Mics – M-Audio Sputnik, AKG C414; Plugins/Virtual Instruments – Omnisphere, Vienna String Library; lots of Waves plugins including Electric and Acoustic Waves keyboards; Schecter Strat electric guitar and Takamine acoustic guitar.
“A Message From Shanghai” is a progressive pop song with music and lyrics by Neal Fox, who also played keyboards, guitars, synths and vocals (lead and backgrounds).
The atmospheric introduction sets the mood. While the song is piano dominant, there are some interesting pads as well as some even more interesting Asian instrument textures along with some nice percussion sounds. The song builds in the second verse, with background vocals employed as another texture. A lovely, understated guitar solo (with a drum set added to the song’s percussion loops) leads back to the vocal section, with a key change into the last chorus that lifts the final chorus.
Reviewed By Dave Martin
I enjoy songs like “A Message From Shanghai.” The chord changes are interesting and somewhat unusual for pop songs, if fairly straight ahead for progressive rock. The atmospheric textures—especially the Asian-influenced sounds—are worth repeated listening.
The percussion loops are also nicely done, and the low-frequency percussion sounds work especially well. When the drum kit sounds appeared (about 2:14), it was a very effective scene change.
At the end of the day, the dynamics used in this song (created with instruments and sounds entering and leaving rather than through volume automation) were enormously effective both as a whole composition and within the structure of each section.
I have no issues with “A Message From Shanghai” as a listener. As an engineer and producer, anything I might suggest would just be another guy’s opinion rather than obvious flaws/techniques I would fix. As the production notes pointed out, the composer listened on a variety of sources while mixing the track—studio monitors, computer speakers, iPhone speakers and earbuds. I’m guessing that he tweaked the mix based on what he heard through listening to each of these.
While I might try bringing the piano down a dB or maybe bringing up the percussion loop a dB or two in the early part of the song, those thoughts are based on the prog records I’ve worked on, where Nick D’Virgilio’s drums are a primary instrument. As a whole, the track works very well.
“A Message From Shanghai” works for me – I liked it! Nice Job!