Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – 3/16 – Prodigal Son Edition

In case you can't tell that's the leadsinger of Prodigy poorly copypasted onto Batoni's "Return of the Prodigal Son."  I hope you're not offended? If you were alive in the 90s, you probably heard Prodigy at some point.  They taught us all how to smack our bitches up and start fires.  They apparently also taught this week’s band how to make some pretty vicious techno.

The Phase is an electronica/drum and bass band – which means they lean toward rave music that would just as soon make you fight someone as grind them.  They’re Russian, another factor that may explain the aggressive loops and angry industrial noises.  Check out their stuff here. It sounds like a faithful mix of their listed influences The Chemical Brothers, the aforementioned Prodigy, and Nine Inch Nails – plus a healthy ladleful of testosterone. 

Suffice to say, it’s not love-making music (if it is for you…just be careful, okay?).  But is it good surfing music?  Hit the jump to find out.


Somebody better call heaven, 'cause this angel needs a bath. Of all of the tracks this week, “Dirty Angel” sounds the most like a Prodigy track.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  Just something to point out.  Its “melody” (a bass-ish tone that only varies in pitch occasionally) sounds like a pulse cannon on rapid fire.  It’s not staccato or abrasive, (thus comparable to a machine gun), but warm, rounded.  The notes attacked strongly but then bleed together, providing welcome contrast to the snap in the drum beat.  The choruses have great downhill motion, with plenty of hills and winding curves.  These hills, while not dramatic, instill some variety in a fairly repetitive song.  It makes your journey forward more of a slalom than a jump ramp. 

If the graph were a silhouette, you might mistake it for the Great Pyramids of Egypt. I’m pretty sure I’ve used this simile before in a previous post, but “Fallen” sounds like a great song for a discotheque fight scene.  You know that part of The Dark Knight where Batman finds the leathery-faced, not-Italian Italian guy in a club and beats up his cronies while strobe lights play?  This would be a good song for that.  As you can tell from the ride graph, this track can get pretty steep, which is great for hurling you into traffic like a Batfist into discotheque cronies.  Musically, I think one of the in-game song comments put it best: “the song sounds like a broken electrical transformer.”  Play this song and you’ll know what the guy meant by that.  The drum loop is really what drives the song, and its entrancing enough in its repetition that I felt like I was actually planning block matches specifically around the loop.  I was regularly completing sets right on the beat, just as the end of each bar.  I guess that means the arrangement of colors corresponded well to the percussion.  Plus there’s a wicked bank curve early on that’s more than mildly disorienting.

Other selections
“Nomore” also touches on the discotheque fight scene vibe.  I imagine some movie wherein Jean Reno chases Yakuza thugs through the streets of Tokyo, fighting them in Pachinko parlors and karaoke bars.  Oh wait, I think someone already made that.  If you really like this artist, give “Nomore” a try.  Otherwise, just play “Fallen.”  The “Dirty Angel RAZE Remix” is also fairly unnecessary.  It doesn’t offer too much the original doesn’t, except an ending where the music simply stops.  Whether this is the fault of the mp3 or the software, I’m not sure.  But it’s abrupt and annoying.  Just play the original.

Further Riding
Because there were only two recommendations this week, I figured I should shore up the song count and toss in a suggestion of my own (even though it’s not genre-related at all):  “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen.  I’ve been a fan of this song since I started playing Audiosurf.  In fact, Audiosurf may be the reason I’ve grown to like this song so much.  It’s not traffic intense (the 160s), but there’s a nice, gradual introduction of musical elements as each verse happens that is subtly reflected in the traffic.  There’s some fun track syncopation in the bridge that feels cued by Freddie’s voice.  And man, that drum fill tunnel leading into the guitar solo is just nasty.  And if you don’t know what song (or god forbid, band) of which I’m speaking, shame on you.  Boot up the iTunes store and correct your grievous error.

Author’s Note
All songs were played on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser and Vegas characters.  I saw someone on the song comments suggesting that there be a way to sort high scores by character, as some characters end up faring better on particular songs.  While I don’t think a general leaderboard should be abandoned, I do think it would be cool to be able to see how other players did using the same character I did.  That way I know whether to blame the character or my own ineptitude.