Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Spanish Chipmunk Edition

alvin-and-the-chipmunks-the-squeakquel-spanish-r4-inside-cover-17868Another week, another musical subgenre I didn’t know exist.

According to Wikipedia popular Internet sources, Mákina is a Spanish version of Britain’s UK Hardcore, a specific category of rave music.  It also gets play at Spanish clubs with names like Chocolate and Chasis – at least that’s what Wikipedia popular Internet sources tell me.

This week’s practitioner of Mákina is Prana Yama.  I don’t know anything about him/her/them, except that the name is fun to say.  Pra-na Ya-ma.  Oh, and he/she/they have some music over on Jamendo.

The Songs

audiosurf convicted“Convicted” taught me a lot about Mákina.  Its two main features are chipmunk voices (and by that I mean sped up human speech not wildlife .wav files) and heavy drumming on every single beat.  The swift yet heavy quarter note pulse sounds like a cartoonishly-muscular man banging fervently upon a cartoonishly large drum.  Add in the chipmunks and it begins to resemble high level Whack-a-Mole play.  One upside of the oppressive percussion: every syncopated note (of which there are millions) is highlighted.  The uneven rhythm tugs in two separate directions.  It’s a shame the song’s two loudest qualities are the ones I like the least.  There’s some real personality here.  Playful shifts into epic guitar licks give the song a grander scope than a mere strobe-lit rave on the Iberian.  If prog-rave were a term, I’d use it.  Since it isn’t, I’ll coin it.  This song is prog-rave music.  What does that mean?  I don’t know.  My head hurts.

audiosurf call me backScattered throughout “Call Me Back”  is audio of a man leaving messages on some girl’s voicemail, saying that he loves her and then asking her to call him back.  I want to say there’s a metaphor here for how I feel about this music, but it’s probably long and protracted and of little use to this post.  All I can say is that I’m less and less fond of Mákina there more I hear of it.  Wait, there’s the connection!  The more times the guy calls, the less interested the girl becomes.  His eagerness (poorly masked with a blasé “It’s alright, I’ll survive without you calling” inflection) drives her away, just as the rhythmic juggernaut of “Call Me Back” repels me.  I beg it to slow down, to let me catch my breath, to give my ear drums a break from its bass drums.  No luck.  There are hints that it might change.  If only it embraced its melody more, if only it cultivated that tiny seed of chiptune.  But nope.  I’m moving on.

audiosurf beautiful girlsHoly crap these songs are long.  If this were the only Mákina song I’d ever heard and ever had to hear, I might say things like “If you took out the warbling chipmunks, this would make killer boss music” or “Sure, the bass is a little heavy, but the other noises chomp and grind with such ferocity that I don’t care.”  I might say those things.  I might even say that I really enjoyed the underwater-ish section toward the end, but it is quickly killed and left for dead at the corner of Chipmunk and Bass, so I won’t.  “Beautiful Girls” demonstrates the most variety of the three tracks, so play this song if you want to give any of this stuff a chance.  If you like it, let it be a gateway drug.  If you don’t, don’t feel bad. 

Author’s Note

All songs were played on the Pro difficulty (no I haven’t graduated to Elite, even after all this time) using the Eraser character. 

I’m not sure I agree with him, but I have to give props to Sven Goobar’s assessment of “Convicted.”  he writes, “This music is like…Twinkies…it’s really awful but sometimes you like to eat it anyway.”  I salute anyone who can channel Twinkies for an effective analogy.  Mmm…Twinkies.

I was a little harsh this week, so allow me to point out that people do in fact enjoy this stuff.  The Audiosurf Comments section abounds with people praising the tracks or, at the very least, the rides.  Allow me to second that second part.  The majority of the rides were plenty fun with lengthy red tunnels and lots of traffic.  I was just so burned out after seven minutes a piece of chipmunk hell that I could barely remember what I’d ridden.

How about you?  Is Mákina your cup of tea?  Sound off below – just don’t use your Gawker account.