Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Entrancing Edition

adorable It seems like we’re doubling back on trance music more and more frequently.  Not that I mind, of course.  As I’ve said, the genre’s well-suited to Audiosurf: constant beats, hypnotic rhythms, dense collections of sound.  The only downside is that the longer tracks can feel extra long, what with their insistence on repeating things in order to, I don’t know, entrance you.

The first of this week’s three rides comes from IronymarkHis witty web address aside, my favorite thing about him is his name.  The irony mark is an unofficial, seldom-used punctuation mark which indicates sentences that should be understood at a second level (paraphrase courtesy of Wikipedia).  Why some dude who programs music on his DS Lite cares so much about obscure punctuation I don’t know.  But I like it.

six is a decidedly less unique name for a musician.  Especially since I’m pretty sure it’s not actually the person’s name.  It’s sort of like that episode of Seinfeld where George wanted to name a child Seven after Mickey Mantle, but not.

We may be treading into familiar genre territory, but the music all feels fresh.

The Songs

I had no idea you could plug a KORG emulator into a DS Lite.  I suppose there are lots of things you can do on your DS that aren’t in the manual, but I’d figured it ended with penis drawings and lewd chat.  “Syrklerineaux” is evidence that music can and will come from any source, no matter how unexpected – much like a hobo on a corner banging on buckets while screaming Sinatra lyrics into a microphone (that’s less far-fetched than you’d think).  As soon as the rippling arpeggios start repeating, “Syrklerineaux” immediately makes me think of a cross between Sufjan Stevens and The Postal Service.  It’s bouncy, peppy, and brightly-colored.  It’s also, being the product of a computer program, super digital.  I hear it as background music for a more rambunctious version of those Cisco ads where Ellen Paige visits her hometown.  I see her dressed as indie as possible, dancing from video chat-enabled office to video chat-enabled office.  It’s not a bad scene.  Just a very specific one.  A very specific crossbreeding of “indie” sensibilities with digitally-composed music.  Man, I hope he composed this on a bus ride to go see Animal Collective or something.

A third of the way into “Quantum Realities,” a deadpan voice pipes up, outlining the theory that every choice creates a parallel universe.  The resulting multiverse stacks on itself, creating the scenario I once saw on the History Channel where a dinosaur could be walking through my house right now (7:45 or so).  There is not solely a universe where everyone has goatees, but one for mutton-chops, one for handlebars, (ugh) even soul patches.  And they all exist concurrently.  I’m sure that, while riding “Quantum Realities,” there was probably a version of me enjoying myself immensely.  What can I say, I’m just not a huge fan of spoken word samples in my techno music, especially trance.  I expect the music to reel me in, wrap my mind in swaddling clothes, and turn my cerebral cortex to mush for the next five or six minutes.  “Quantum Realities” instead over stimulated the part of my brain that cares about alternate dinosaur-realities.  I couldn’t quite focus on the task at hand: the clearing of colored blocks so as to obtain a high score.  Perhaps if the downhills in “Quantum…” were a few degrees steeper I wouldn’t have time to ponder the alternate universe in which I was German and only listened to techno.  That said, I did enjoy some of the music prior to the distracting vocals.  The main sample sounds like something’s being squeezed, leaving distortion behind me in my aural wake.  Diagnosis: needs less talk, more rock.

“Jump Point” has nothing to with 21 Jump Street, Point Break, or the comic strip Jump Start.  I just thought that, since this initially troubled me, you might have wanted to know.  I also think you might want to know that, like “Quantum Realities,” there are vocal dubs in this one, too.  Ironically enough, the first one simply says “What do you want?”  My answer: no vocal dubs.  But no more of that.  “Jump Point” refuses to give an inch.  It’s balls-out traffic the entire ride.  A catchy melody sample keeps things interesting, as does a drum loop I can only ignorantly describe as sort of Eastern.  It’s not a typical drum kit sound, that much I can tell you.  I grew a tad weary toward the end each time I rode this one, as the length is a little much.  But the overall experience is solid throughout, with no significant lulls in quality.  Prep some coffee, Ritalin, whatever you need to maintain focus during a long Audiosurf ride, and play this song.

Author’s Note

All songs were played at least twice on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser and Vegas characters.  No real quotable comments this time around, just a debate as to the merits of the trance genre with respect to Audiosurf.  What do you know: some people like it, others don’t.  The Internet’s oddly predictable in that way.