Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Russian Surprise Edition

What plays in your minds ear when you think of Russian music?  Soviet Union propagandaTchaikovsky21st-century memes?  Had I given you hours to brainstorm genres and styles, I doubt you’d have been able to come up with this surprise: Russian ska.

And yet that’s what’s on tap today.  100PydOFF is actually a Ukrainian ska group formed in 2005.  According to their website, their name “actually cannot be translated, but means something like ‘dead sure.’”  I can respect a group willing to use bizarre idioms as band names.  Maybe I should start a band called A Monkey’s Uncle – fine, nevermind.

Also on the playlist is a track of Indian percussion and some super short songs from Gaby Cardoso.  I’m not kidding when I say super short.  They’re each under a minute long.

Kind of a grab bag this week.  Hit the jump to see what’s worth surfing.


You must ride “Proschay” if only for the opportunity to hear Russians playing the saxophone.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that in my life.  The closest I’ve ever come was probably in high school, when the saxes in my concert band covered the horn part in Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony – and yes, I realize Dvorak isn’t actually Russian.  “Proschay” prescribes to the stereotypical ska feel of unbridled, shameless joy.  But not Hallmark card joy; smile on your face in the mosh pit joy.  The trumpets and saxes punctuate every phrase, while distorted guitar crunches and wails (when appropriate) underneath.  What are they singing about?  No clue.  Not interested (for those who are, ‘Proschay’ means ‘Goodbye’).  I’m more interested in the steep hills and valleys along the overall downhill thrust of the track.  It’s unrelenting until the end where devolves into simple traffic patterns as two vocalists get goofy and make each other giggle.  I could have done without that part, but I’d still play this song again.

Let me quickly express my gratitude to all of the Audiosurf users who did their best to clue in everybody as to what this songs were about.  According to them, “Pivo SKA i Football” translates to “Beer, Ska, and Football.”  Things I’m sure Russians enjoy in amounts equivalent to the average American intake of beer, country, and football (not their football).  Well, maybe not as many Russians like ska as much as I’m assuming.  Then again, I only know a few people who really dig country.  Despite its simple message, “Pivo SKA i Football” is super dramatic, with an Aquabats-like opening of galloping guitar and alarming horns.  From there the hectic bass line pretty much takes off, preventing the song from ever taking a breather.  No huge surprises in the ride itself.  Just buckle your seatbelt, grab a beer, crank up the ska, and think about football – again, I mean soccer.

Other Selections

“Drummers – Kerala” starts without a warning.  Not a second’s passed and you’re already knee deep in traffic, wading through a sonic assault of drums and jangling bells.  It’s one of the most disorienting openings I’ve experienced on Audiosurf.  Imagine being given your first pair of roller skates, then shoved onstage in front of a sold out crowd expecting you to freaking tap dance.  The learning curve is that steep.  I’m not sure of my position on the piece’s musicality (or lack thereof), but many fellow surfers took none too kindly to what many likened to children wailing on pots and pans.  The winning quote, however, comes from GodHandZ-XL: “if god had a kidney stone he passed, it would sound like this.”  “Llanto Allegre” features a dude with an incredibly leaky woodwind whistling along to a stringed instrument.  They share a boring melody for the duration of the song.  If you mistakenly booted up “Drummers” and need a palette cleanser, this track’s got you covered.  Otherwise, nothing to see here.  If you’ve been waiting for forty-second song featuring a man speaking over a lonely harmonica, “Claraboya” is the ride for you.  If not, again, move right along.

Author’s Note

All songs were played at least twice on the Pro difficulty using the Vegas and Eraser characters.  Lots of ire on the boards this week as many reacted negatively to the world music and ska.  Thankfully, one guy decided to lighten the mood.  On nearly every song, User Comander Shepard commented, “This is Comander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel.”  His lighthearted Mass Effect 2 reference helped bring me back down with a chuckle after each ride.