Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Now That’s What I Call Surfing Edition

now 69With every holiday (or consumerist fabrication of one), comes one of Steam’s heralded sales.  The digital distributor is famous for its “Everything Must Go (Even Though We Have Infinite Storage Space So It Doesn’t Really Matter)” mentality during sale season, so it’s not uncommon to find large bundles of games at prices low enough for Price Is Right victory.  Ever wanted more copies of Half-Life 2 than you’ll ever need for less than twenty bucks?  Tune into last Friday.

Indie games generally do extremely well, especially community favorites like Audiosurf.  Thanks to last weekend’s Indie Music pack, there’s bound to be a slew of new players.  Welcome to anyone who might be reading for the first time!

To get this week’s new players acclimated, Radio features four of the past year’s best rides, curated for their quality and variety.  Somniaferum, King Richard’s Sunday Best, Viy, and Aleksey Chistilin all return with a track each. 

I’ve gone back through the “This Week…” archives and pulled my thoughts on each song.  Two of them even earned song of the week honors!  Hit the jump to find out just what kinds of music Audiosurf is capable of making fun.

The Songs

audiosurd days of fulfilled hopeSomniaferum pulls a fast one on the listener at the top of the song.  “Days of Fulfilled Hope” starts off with a little electronic pop.  I have expected this to be a dance-rock song of some kind.  Instead, the guitar drives us away from the dance party, toward an arena stacked to the rafters with Marshall cabinets.  “Days of Fulfilled Hope” is a loud song.  I didn’t just have my volume turned up; it was recorded loud for a reason.  At times the sound even overwhelms the ear.  What I took for once took for hummingbird mimicry turns out to be Somniaferum’s preferred method of guitar melody: strum as fast as you can on really high notes.  Here, the dreaminess of the notes wafts over big honking major chords splayed out across the rhythm section.  The last half of the song is a thunderous downhill slope with glaring red tunnels flying overhead.  Wistful joy is probably the best way to describe what this song’s aiming to evoke.  It’s not a Good Times party song.  It’s not even really a ballad.  The wide, yawning chords envelop multiple emotions at once, and there’s a monumental sense of peace underpinning it all.  Get past the boring quarter note traffic in the beginning and play this song.  Crank up your graphics settings and enjoy. (October 26, 2010)

audiosurf i know youWhen I said “a dash or two of corniness,” I hadn’t yet been exposed to the musical wit of King Richard’s Sunday Best.  The jukebox act they do on “I Know You, Reiter” is quite impressive.  At its core, it’s a simple song about wanting to be wanted.  Layers upon layers above that, it’s an opportunity for the band to showcase some versatility.  They switch genres on nearly every phrase.  Bluegrass, punk, singer/songwriter, metal, waltz, spoken word, country, and Gregorian chant are all covered (perhaps I even missed some?).  Not all of the jokes land completely, but the effort and range of styles outweigh any negatives one might muster.  Repeated listening does hurt the song, as most of the fun comes from its sense of surprise.  But if you saw this act at a bar or small concert (it’s a live recording), you’d assuredly be on the band’s website when you got home. (October 19, 2010)

audiosurf ukraineViy’s excellent folk song would make a perfect soundtrack dub for the Ewok celebration at the end of a Ukrainian Return of the Jedi.  It’s so damn gleeful.  If I’m not picturing Ewoks, I’m seeing a film montage of a small happy village in the mountains.  Kids eating ice cream or chasing farm animals.  Adults making small talk and imbibing afternoon spirits.  Farm animals causing hijinks.  The various string instruments – guitar, fiddle, etc. – blend sweetly before going into a mild breakdown reminiscent of a Béla Fleck track.  The male singers enter gloriously at the end, singing who-the-hell-knows.  It sounds like a drinking song.  Perhaps it’s just a tune to commemorate a great year.  It could be anything (just look at the Tetris song).  Enjoy this one thoroughly.  The ride’s nowhere near as difficult as the traffic rating makes it out to be.  If you don’t have a good time, you must hate fun. (June 8, 2010)

audiosurf childhoodWho says soft piano has no place in Audiosurf?  (I may have at various times…)  Well, screw them.  “Childhood” engages just as well as – if not a little better than – any boiler plate techno track.  Like some kind of Internet minister, the Steep tag marries the music and traffic without much fanfare.  Blocks appear in line with the tickling of the ivories, clipping along at a pace just a hair faster than you might initially expect.  The ride’s good; however, I’m not exactly sure what to say about it musically.  It’s mostly piano, bass, and drums.  Strings occasionally glide in and out for atmosphere.  I kept waiting for the vocals to pop up, but they never did.  It was like I’d invited a particular group of friends over for a birthday party, but the one person who never misses doesn’t show.  You all spend the rest of the party trying to get in contact with her, sharing stories about the time you each weresure she’d forgotten your birthday – but, of course, she didn’t.  You tell her stories – your own personal favorites – in hopes of filling the void she’s left next to the iPod dock.  The vocals never show.  You might want to play this song.  It tugs on the heartstrings a bit. (August 3, 2010)

Author’s Note

All songs were played on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser character.

Just because we recycled some content doesn’t mean that the comment section went unbrowsed.  Of “Troyitska Pisnia,” DeeV wrote, “Is it weird that I was laughing hysterically the entire time?”  No, no it’s not, but “I Know You, Reiter” caused more people to lvml than any other.  Plenty of Mono riders said they crashed into greys while laughing, and elorian_ridenow said, “this song is pure evil…had to laugh all the time.”

Turns out, with the right music, games can be funny.