Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Week on Audiosurf Radio - 5/12 - Riding Under the Influence Edition

Does this sign give me warning enough to puke it all out and pop a breath freshener strip? Sometimes, you listen to a song, and you can hear all of the artist’s influences. You can hear in their voice all the singers (or maybe just the one) they grew up listening to. You can detect in the guitar work trace amounts of bands discovered in the musician’s formative years.

When I heard The Liquid Kitchen, my influence detector exploded. On the Texan group’s website, you can read about their love for 60s/70s rock. Then you can listen to their stuff and hear which decade they actually sound like. However, I don’t really have an influence detector for techno. So when we get to the work of Brazil’s Radioactive Project, please let me know if you can spot any overt influences as I am quite unversed in the language of techno.

Hit the jump for some thoughts on alt rock, Neil Young, and Friends. Plus some actual Audiosurf-related opinions.


Not to be confused with The Solid Kitchen Phrase by phrase, “Graveyard” shows The Liquid Kitchen fluidly shifting between influences (prepare for a bunch of artist drops). At the onset, the high-pitched crooning reminds me of Neil Young, albeit with some down-home country “R”s. I hear in the chorus, however, something more akin to Jane’s Addiction. Which is fitting, considering the other similarities to 90s alternative rock. There’s something very Alice in Chains about that string-slinging main riff. Obviously, I have plenty to say about the song. I just wish the ride were better. It starts out promising. The camera’s right on top of the car – giving that breakneck feeling I like so much. But then I realized I was just riding the cymbal (pun intended). Streams of methodical eighth notes do not an exhilarating ride make. Even the solo went underrepresented by the traffic; and it’s a pretty serviceable solo, all in all. Would I recommend slapping a Steep tag on this one? Probably not, as I think that its just heavy enough as it is that a tag would tip it into the category of “UnFun.” If you enjoyed what the 90s had to offer rock music, give this one a shot, but don’t expect the ride to blow you away.

People sleepin in their shoes!!! The influences aren’t so varied this time around. So in “Graveyard” the singer sounded like Neil Young a bit. Well get ready to hear him sound like Neil Young a lot. It sounds like the band sat around, listened to “Rockin a Free World” twenty times, and wrote a tribute song. Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure. It’s certainly one of the few Neil Young songs I enjoy. And I happened to enjoy “Big World.” In contrast to “Graveyard,” the guitar solo on this one is introspective, not flashy – an interesting choice given the aural expanse in the rest of the song. It really serves the title well, filling a wide sonic space with the rich folk-rock chords over a relaxed drumbeat. There’s room to breathe in this beat, which makes it all the better when he throws in some chorus-teasing fills. It too is only average on the traffic load, but I’m not complaining this time around. The track is full of sine waves, crashing on your character continuously. And the aforementioned drum fills make for some exciting lane-weaving. Even if you don’t care for Mr. Young, give this one a chance.

I wouldn't choose this over a third of a Seinfeld episode, though. Unfortunately, I can’t speak as intelligently about techno influences as I can about alternative rock ones. In fact, I can’t really speak about techno influences at all. See how quickly a title can break down? Let’s move on. This song’s seven minutes long. Before riding, realize that you will be devoting a good third of an episode of Friends to riding this song. Then kick yourself for caring about a third of an episode of Friends and ride this damn song. Is it perfect? No. I have no idea why a creepy robot-woman-child keeps repeating the word “Dimension.” And I was extremely surprised when some space bongos started playing toward the end (I’m serious about these space bongos, I dare you listen and tell me they’re not there). But this song does so many things well. Remember when I was all about techno on Radio? But then I got tired of it? This breathes fresh air back into techno riding for me. You know those whizzing sound effects that routinely crop up in techno to build tension? This track employs them beautifully, quickly generating hills that simulate the experience of hearing that noise. One of my favorite aspects of playing Audiosurf is the tension between navigating the traffic in front of you and keeping an eye on the hills and drops looming in the distance. With half an eye trained on the minimap, I knew that big downhill section was coming. Then I saw it manifesting as I crested a bump two or three minutes in. The song had already been difficult, and it was about to get worse? But it didn’t get worse. It got better. If you’ve ever enjoyed a challenging techno track on Audiosurf, jump on this one.

Other selections
I won’t devote a whole write up to the other Speedsound track this week. “In My Head,” like “Playing in the Moon,” is quite, quite long. It, like “Playing in the Moon”, does a fair job of representing the best of what techno has to offer Audiosurf players. I just happened not to dig it as much as “Playing in the Moon”. And I’ll admit I am completely unable to qualify that statement. Perhaps having two lengthy techno beast tracks in one week is just too much for me. I’m only one man, you know?

Author’s Note
Each song was played twice on the Pro difficulty using Eraser and Vegas characters, except “In My Head,” which I only got through once. Too much techno for me. Feel free to comment and critique my inability to get through a song you may have enjoyed.