Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – 1/20 – Sounds Like… Edition

audiosurf 1-20 dogs katamari Hope you like “instrumental electronic space pop.” There’s a lot of it to be had this week.

According to his Magnatune page, Wade Williamson (or simply Williamson) makes “instrumental electronic space pop.” I think it sounds like a mix of Katamari Damacy (though considerably chiller and less Japanese) and the guitar-laden tracks of the Orisinal games (A Dog For All Seasons is still my favorite). All four of the tracks can be found on his 2003 release A Few Things To Hear Before We All Blow Up. To mix things up, there’s also a song from Brazilian electronica artist Elektronoid. I couldn’t find any information on him/her other than this Jamendo page where you can listen to his/her three-track EP which may or may not be called Down Out Light.

We’ve talked about electronic music before, but this week’s a little different.

2 Percenter– Williamson – Time: 3:32 Traffic: 173
This is the first of the Williamson tracks and I think it’s my favorite of the four. Musically, it best sums up my earlier analogy of Katamari mixed with Orisinal. The acoustic guitar isn’t driving, nor is it lulling. Listening to the music on its own, you might find it very relaxing. However, the track moves a tempo quite faster than you’d expect. The ride is like swimming in an ocean filled with gentle waves, but beneath the surface there’s an undertow, constantly pulling. It’s a mixture of weird noises, guitar and drum loops, and a synth in low soprano dancing in and out of a melody line. After two challenging downhill sections it ends soothingly enough, mellowing out again as you contemplate how to get that Clean Finish bonus.

A Pleasant Goodbye From Whore – Williamson – Time: 4:26 Traffic: 126
I can’t even begin to guess what this song’s title means. Williamson employs an electric guitar here, but the tone of his sliding chords is remarkably clean and clear. There are plenty of bizarre noises in this track, too: buzzing like electronic insects, something like wind panning from speaker to speaker, and an oscillating warble that hypnotically rises and falls in pitch. The first third of the ride is uphill, and the low traffic volume challenges you to make worthwhile matches. The warbling then kicks into overdrive and the track starts to fall away, leaving you to careen through tunnels desperately trying to snatch reds and yellows. I still have no idea what this song has to do with being bid farewell by (a) Whore.

Massive Station – Elektronoid – Time: 6:32 Traffic: 226
This song is – to put it bluntly – a beast. It’s the kind of techno perfect for an action scene set in a dance club. It’s not too intense, but the drums mean business and there are a handful of spots where the music relaxes just enough before jumping into the next phrase with gusto. So if it’s not so intense, why is it a beast? It’s six and a half minutes long and it doesn’t feel repetitive despite repeating more than a few loops. The permutations on the main theme are distinct enough that it’s length is only frustrating if you want to catch your breath. My favorite moment, aside from the joyous stress of trying not to get overloaded in this monster, was the track knowing to put a corkscrew right at the end of a four-bar phrase, making things just crazy enough as the song started to close. Play this song, it might make you think of that Mortal Kombat song, or maybe a Vin Diesel flick.

Other selections
The other two Williamson songs (A- and We’re All Boned) are pretty standard fare - if you’re using Williamson as the barometer. They’re full of electronic noises and ambient sound, and the tracks move forward at a nice clip despite the “Let’s Do Pilates” quality of the music. The hills on A- move like planet(oids)s with an irregular orbit – they crest slowly but then whip you onto the next hill, making it challenging to nab blocks. Other than that, it’s just alright. And both songs feel about ninety seconds too long, a quality highlighted by Massive Station’s success.

Author’s Note
All songs were played on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser character. I find the Eraser character has the best tool for dealing with large numbers of blocks. I don’t find it as some kind of subconscious expression of Nihilism (re: Rob).

By The Way
Come back tomorrow for a special Audiosurf surprise!