I finally finished putting together a shortlist of songs I liked for this year's AIM, in order to vote in the fan voting thread, and it was much harder than last time!
I listened to every song at least twice then, just like last year, ranked the songs mostly in-order based on some combination of how much I liked them, how objectively good they are, and how much they fit their art. Cutting the list into songs I liked didn't help thin things out as much as I was hoping this year...
1. AIM - Red Hell sound design & atmosphere are cinematic tier
2. AIM - A Spirit's Thoughts very emotionally powerful
3. AIM - Sprawl perfect connection to art + fun sound design
4. AIM - Charon the progression is the best part
5. AIM - The Storm smooth
6. AIM - Battle of Ships chaotic and hard hitting
7. AIM - Showdown engaging and crisp
9. Amiss tingly (chrono trigger mitai na?)
10. AIM - As Screaming Shadows Consume Us
11. AIM - Skypunks
12. AIM - Lowlands Scrapyard evocative
14. AIM - 14 very cool atmospheric ideas
15. AIM - Fusion Energy love the rough melodies
16. AIM - Raphonia Traditions fits the art very well
17. Beware - AIM
18. AIM - MEAT strong execution
19. AIM - Panorama Drone atmosphere
22. AIM - Dusk [Dry]
26. AIM - Dusk (2022) [CryNN]
29. AIM - Dusk [ChordsInMotion]
31. AIM - Anamnesis
32. AIM . Requiem for an Astronaut (Ft. Marie Ork)
36. AIM - 4fh6gji84
37. AIM - Where Even the Monsters Cry
38. AIM - Ōkami
39. AIM Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
41. AIM - Journey of a Traveler
42. AIM - Succubus
bonus. AIM - At The End Of the Road 5:23 ;)
### final thoughts
I noticed that a lot of tracks (both in the shortlist & not) shared a few general critiques.
1. transitions are important & have the potential to be super cool.
2. repetitive sections put a focus on the sound design & mixing -> if you don't have confidence in your sound design skills, mix up the arrangement and composition; make things extraordinary!
3. make sure that the song builds and releases tension! You don't want the dynamics to get stale and for the listener to feel like the piece just isn't changing.
I have a lot of notes on every piece I listened to, so feel free to send me a dm if you'd like any more feedback!
see you next year