Hello here are the things I think about the songs. Tracks marked with an asterix are my shortlisted votes.
*** 1. VΔƎPЯISM - θɜːmɪk [Thermic]:** Moody piano and strings open up and remind me of the opening of Doll Doll Doll so I’m not really sure where this is gonna take me. Crunchy biscuit beats zip in just when I was expecting noisy breaks so it’s a nice refreshment. Repeaters/retriggering is an easy way to win me over and it’s great to see them being slapped on the master channel. I would dip this track in milk and/or tea.
2. sodiufas – Glaciers: Lovecraftian reverbs and what sounds like osc samples pitched waaaaayyyy down are buried under layers and layers of ice. Immense sense of weight and shifting mass. Something is moving down here. Glacial pacing makes me think this track is endless but suddenly everything unexpectedly stops and
3. Stailer - Hymn To Nature: Wibbly lofi arps guide me gently into some bombastic orchestral drumming I didn’t see coming before I’m washed over with plenty of synth goodness and a very pronounced snare. The lead melody snakes beautifully through the gated chords. Nice vocal touch too. There’s an upbeat melancholy shimmering through this whole track. It’s the music to the end credits on a 90s TV series about a family of survivors living after the end of the world. PS: I couldn’t open your xrns because I don’t have your Kontakt libraries
4. Garfferen - The End: Is this an idling engine sample? Are machines destroying the earth with their pollutants? Am I reading too much into this? A surprisingly jaunty electro tune with another very pronounced snare. There’s some definite 90s trance or Playstation 1 demo disc music vibes on here. If you told me you made this entirely in Music 2000 I’d believe you, and I mean that as the greatest of compliments. Also jingle bells.
*** 5. ghismart - WIND and FIRE on EARTH:** Ultra claustrophobic. This is some nightmarish footwork dreamt up by a misanthropic Gameboy CPU. That filtered osc ghosting in and out at 1:12 is fantastic. I would LOVE to hear this played in a club just to see what people would do.
*** 6. TheBellows MB#11 - 2018 - Global Warning:** Fat as fuck arps get me ready for some lovely reverb’d-to-fuck pluck leads. I’m enjoying the chill vibe here. Oh wait this just changed completely. Got some spooky Silent Hill flute and guitar combo going on. Oh what the fuck is this neuro bass? I was not expecting that! Ok now I love how it’s almost brought me back to the serene place I was before but weird chords and chromatic notes and echoes of that bass are still hovering around, not letting me relax. I feel like there are enough ideas here for a few different tracks based around the same themes and motifs.
7. basicmethods - MB11 Session: These opening arps are like the start of some off-kilter dream sequence from a 50s sitcom. The warm saturated chords are a comfy armchair and the unrelenting kick is a bent upholstery staple poking into my leg as I try to relax. Balances out really nicely once the full beat comes in and keeps the global environmental apocalypse at bay with some dreamy vocals and leads. Perfect for winter weather.
8. wurzelgemüse – gigantomanie: Super solid beats here. This track is an absolute toe-tapper. It makes me want to turn all the lights in the room off and flail around in the dark but it’s 4am and I don’t think my neighbours would enjoy it as much as me. The delay and reverb on the percussive melody is super nice and a great juxtaposition to the jarring and unsettling vocals cuts.
9. Maya Azem - Climate Sceptic In The Antarctic: Tbh I’m kinda surprised I got nine songs in before I heard a Trump sample. Lots of subtle progression and movement in this one. I like how it’s constantly evolving and changing, never settling for too long on idea before moving onto the next one. A great philosophy for a music track like this but a terrible one for game design theory, jsyk. Wonderful sound design throughout. Everything is clicky and washy and warm and sharp and nice to hear.
10. Lilith 93 - Climate Change: Is that Obama? Right after a track with Trump? Controversial. More synth nutrition. I love the eerie discordant pads that come in at the halfway mark, and the weird fluttering basses at the end. Sounds like it’s coming from a well played and well loved cassette.
11. RedPanda13 - ManBearPig Is Real, Im Cereal!: Obese FM basses! I gotta disclaim that I really fucking hate South Park but this is a solid track. Tons of heavy layering synths constantly evolving and telling me new things the entire way through the track, with a nicely mixed snare poking its head above the water.
*** 12. Thermal Reflections by CryoKitsune:** Super chill and lofi beats. This is definitely the music to the snow mountain level in some bastard hard platformer à la Celeste. I really enjoyed the breakdown at the end. So many great melodies and ideas here. Another track I’d love to see extrapolated into more music.
*** 13. FX Send - Puffin Iceberg:** Oh wow, I’m loving this immediately. Major Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding / later modular VS vibes here, from the meandering melancholy melody to the razor sharp broken glass beats. Maintains enough structure despite being the most chaotic track I’ve heard so far. Wonderful song structuring and pacing, and the “WOOO!!!” sample made me grin like a dickhead. This is my favourite so far! Waaaaay too short tho, I need more of this in my ears.
14. lusd. - Global Warming – 0.67: A weird little frantic burst of comb filters and a lofi dnb vibe. It gets its message across quickly and doesn’t hang around any longer than it needs to. Succinct. Like this review.
15. Komu - Dawn Of A New Beginning: Super cinematic at the start beginning. Atmosphere is slowly building and building. I could easily enjoy a full 5+ minute track of just the intro section. Extra points for the alternating bars of 9/4 and 7/4. Lots of really nice textures happening throughout the bouncy pumping main body.
16. Fosterr_Gump - Gump 128.5773: Weird af straight from the word go, I’m excited to see where this is gonna take me. Definitely some dingy underground basement in a warehouse with bad lighting and people in hemp shirts outside smoking stuff you haven’t heard of before. Bring back the gated pad at the end! I was enjoying that before it faded away too soon.
17. sunnk - heat death: Cool.
*** 18. Rægæ - System Local Cooler:** I utterly enjoyed your entry last year so I’ve been really looking forward to this. Deep space reverbs cover dramatic noises and an alien radio signal is barely heard in the background. Oh now the aliens can play guitar. Or whatever instrument that is. HUGE Tomas Dvorak/Floex vibes here. The sound design is really fucking weird but I’m loving it, and the ultra syncopated drums and chord are really throwing me off. How do you come up with this shit? One of my favourites again!
Super solid entries again this year, and it was cool to see how people worked around or with the “native only” rule. I feel like there was less variation in different genres this year as nearly all the tracks are bursting with synth goodness, but my overall favourite has got to be FX Send’s Puffin Iceberg. The melody is really great and it was cool to see that you’d handmade your breaks when I looked at the xrns. Good luck to everyone in the voting!