Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio - 1/5 - And Techno Shall Save Us Edition

Apparently, the Fitterers heard all of my whining last week. Audiosurf Radio rings in the New Year with a slew of bouncing techno/electronica tracks bound to make me forget my singer/songwriter woes. The songs come from three artists who - of course - I've never heard of.

Yuto is a 20 year old Japanese/English trance producer who taught himself how to make club music by reading books and practicing on free looping software. He dips his brush in a number of musical styles from japanese folk and classical to psytrance and cyber trance. Frankly, I'm just impressed that he can effectively articulate the differences between trance genres. Rados is a collaboration between Paul Riordan, vocalist Eve Ellis, and Bosnian artist Ivan Rados. Their initial recordings served as ambient music for Ivan's art exhibitions, but a number of requests for the music led to a full-length album that mixes hypnotic dance loops with Yugoslavian folk. Unfortunately, I can't tell you much about Silence because they're Belgian and I can't read any of their websites. Sorry. But I can tell you what I thought of their songs on Audiosurf!

I had a friend in college who used to listen to trance music while writing papers. Navigating texts on Irish independence may not be the same thing as dropping acid and swimming in foam, but they have one thing in common: you're doing something other than just listening to the music. Trance music by nature (and name) is hypnotizing background music. Individual instruments do not abound or call attention to themselves, thereby allowing you to swim through the waves of sound, navigate the traffic, and enjoy the ride.

The Radical Change - Rados - Time: 5:23 Traffic: 198
This song is doing its best to blow my mind. It opens with who I presume is Ivan Rados speaking over some ambient percussion: "The world doesn't exist. Hasn't exist and won't exist. Everything is only big dream. One big dream. A product of the Big Mind." Okay Mr. Rados, despite your best attempts to weird me out, I'm still going to play this song. And I'm still going to exist. The song starts out with an pretty lengthy uphill climb, but the traffic isn't too light. In fact, this song may have one of the best traffic distributions I've ever played. The drums keep the tempo up and the traffic flowing, but the rest of the loops refuse to take the foreground. This results in a challenging but not frenetic downhill section, followed by a brief uphill reprieve before the drums kick back in. For the second half of the song, a Satriani-like guitar solo wails, but its mixed to sound like its coming from the club next door. This song has plenty of mesmerizing loops but none dominate sonically, making for a slick, enjoyable ride.

Sale - Silence - Time: 2:19 Traffic: 168
This song, along with the other Silence track, were included on Radio because of their near perfect bell curve tracks. Half of the song is a slow build uphill before unleashing you on a frantic downhill slope. The opening reverbed guitar reminds me of Nancy Sinatra's cover of "Bang Bang" (of Kill Bill fame), and makes for interesting traffic as the blocks react to the echoes along with the original strumming. The best (and most maddening) quality of this ride is its brevity. You spend a minute going uphill as the drums slowly fade in under the sparse guitar. After you hit the pinnacle, you race for the finish at a breakneck pace, but the guitar doesn't really change. It remains calm as the drum loop hurtles you forward through an onslaught of yellows, reds, and paints. You're tossed to the end, breathless and cursing all the whites you missed. Each time through leaves me burning to try again, and knowing its a short but incredibly sweet two minutes makes it that much easier. In other words, play this song.

Other selections
The other two songs are fine rides, but I'm trying to avoid simply writing about every song in its entirety. The other track by Silence, Cellule, is another decent bell curve track. It smacks of The Fragile-
era Nine Inch Nails with a hint of Radiohead and would work pretty well for a moody Frank Miller movie trailer. However, Sale is a similar track that makes more of the bell curve. Yuto's Worldwide is another decent song, with a nice little uphill rest in the middle of an otherwise black diamond of a track. It has a brief syncopated section early on that's cool to match with, but overall it actually feels like it has too much traffic (I didn't think I'd ever say that about a song). If it generated traffic in the 180-190 range instead of the 220s, the ride would be a great challenge without being frustrating and overwhelming.

Author's Note
Each song was played at least twice (I played Sale about ten times) on Eraser Pro. If it didn't threaten to shatter my mind, I might start trying songs by myself on Double Vision. But I don't think I'm ready for multiple personalities.