Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – 2/17 – Every Rose Has Its Thorn Edition

OUCH! In honor of this past weekend’s holiday, Radio’s giving surfers one hell of a thorny rose – a blossoming jazz track accompanied by three rides of blistering guitar.

The jazz comes from the Italian quartet Oprachina. It’s a guitar/sax/bass/drums fusion-ish group, with noticeable influences from Tony Williams (seen in this video on drums, getting the evil eye from Miles), Bitches Brew Miles Davis, and a healthy dose of Wayne Shorter. I like this video of them playing on a street corner, but their Jamendo should also suffice. The blistering guitar belongs to Frenchman Roman, or ROUZINE ZELENSKY Roman depending on who you ask. His stuff sounds not unlike Dream Theater or Trans-Siberian Orchestra, though it is all instrumental and borrows heavily from classical motifs. You can listen to him here, if you can find his music amidst the twenty gajillion pictures of his face.

Hit the jump to find out which genre will come out of this Valentine’s Day Massacre alive.


Don't let the Congestion number fool you.

“Utopia” is a perfect example of Roman’s quest to mix “riffs heavy et orchestrations symphoniques.” It opens uphill with some ominous fake strings before kicking into high gear. He’s opted to keep his solo guitar extremely clean – meaning little to no distortion on the melodic solo lines. It helps the solos sail over the crunchy accompaniment of guitar and electronic strings. Ridewise, this song has plenty of start/stop moments and lead-in phrases where the track abandons its decline and seems to stop at the bottom of a hill before climbing slowly and lurching downhill again. It’s an effect I’ve noted in earlier rides that is put to great effect here. And don’t let the (relatively) low Traffic number fool you. There are plenty of challenging stretches, but they are evened out by some awesome staccato phrases and the aforementioned start/stops.

This song would be a helluva rollercoaster.

As you select this track and the camera pans and zooms in, you’ll notice that this track starts immediately – in medias res, if you will. Roman goes berserk on this track, packing as many notes he can into the solo fills he allows himself. It’s reminds me of Rhapsody with absolutely none of the Tolkien lyrics and ten times the menace. There’s a recurring riff of palm-muted machinegun guitar over frantic double-bass drumming that sometimes accompanies and sometimes occurs on its own. By itself, it causes the track to headbang. You can’t see it on the graph, but the hills and valleys in these brief headbanging sections are great, and they give the track some real personality. That’s a great word for this ride: personality. It sounds like boss fight music, but it almost feels like the boss is the track. You scramble through the tunnels, trying to gather as much traffic as possible before the ride itself consumes you. Forgive the anthropomorphism, but it’s there.


I’ll be blunt: I’m challenging you to play this song. If you’re not a jazz fan, you might not be prepared for/interested in the bop-fusion going on here. Rest assured, that the tight, ensemble head of the song syncs up with the traffic to satisfying effect. Sure, it’s uphill, but the solos generate enough traffic to keep the thing going. The saxophone work smacks of Shorter (not surprising considering the group did some kind of retrospective on his work), and the guitarist borrows simultaneously from George Benson and John McLaughlin. I’m name-dropping here because you guys should know these names. Seriously, listen to this and tell me there shouldn’t be a George Benson Hero. Anyway, this track is totally worth it if you engage it, something Audiosurf should help you with. Lebeth recommended playing this one with the “Chill Out” sound effect on. I’m not one for using the effects at all really, but I’ll agree with her on this one. It complements the drum work nicely.

Other selections
The third track from Roman, “Adagio,” is quite brief. It clocks in under two minutes and is a laidback showcase for his impressive technique. It’s thoroughly downhill and has plenty of pretty tunnels, but it’s just doesn’t have the oomph of his other rides. He should stick to uptempo stuff.

Author’s Note
I’m becoming more and more comfortable with Vegas, guys. The thrill of a red paint or a rainbow lightning drop more than makes up for not being able to erase problem blocks. Anyway, each song was played at least twice on Eraser Pro and at least once on Vegas Pro. All in all, this is a pretty good week for Radio.