Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Bored With Happiness Edition

bored babyHave you ever burned out on happiness? Or been around a person so damn pleasant it made you unpleasant?

That’s kind of how I feel about some of this week’s music. Issey is a Japanese techno artist with a Facebook page. (We have one of those, too!) His stuff borders on manic, which makes it a good place to start when searching for upbeat, traffic-generating tunes. Because you can never have enough polar opposites, there’s also a chill sitar piece from Migel Konstantin. Can I just say that his picture is awesome?

How much happiness can I weather before it puts me in a foul mood? Find out after the jump.

The Songs

audiosurf happy“Happy!,” by nature of its title, purports to be a song about a mood – namely, happiness. Thus, please allow me the logical leap of assuming that Issey wants the listener to be happy during the song. I, however, was not happy. Nor was I made particularly sad by the music. I felt remarkably unmoved. Take a look at the song’s graph. Sure, it’s angled downhill – it has a fast tempo – but there’s little variation. Happiness is most strongly felt in contrast to sadness, a gain as opposed to a loss. There is little contrast in “Happy!,” and its baseline is too generic to uplift me from my baseline. The drums oomp-oomp along; the synth strobes above; the traffic streams by: it all just kind of happened.

audiosurf candy popFirst things first, “Candy Pop” is superior to “Happy!” It sports more traffic and is thus a greater challenge. Veteran surfers will find a lot to sink their teeth into, as the speed of this one makes score-dropping overfills almost inevitable. Casual fans, however, may find less to like. Issey’s conservative with his pitch and timbre ranges. You can expect to hear at all times incessant eighth-notes from synths in the soprano register. It grates on the ear after a while. At least the melody occasionally drifts into a futuristic twang. This breaks up the wall of sound that continues through most of the ride. I caught a snippet of light, playful drumming about halfway through, but it quickly disappeared beneath the crushing weight of the incessant bass drum. My mind’s ear had a vision (that’s probably not the right word) of Issey’s musical potential sans techno bass drum. It looked good. Too bad he’s as reliant on it as I am on the phrase “mind’s ear.”

audiosurf sitar ramjiEven though there are no lyrics, “Sitar Ramji” brims with thought. Each bar of the melody leads into the next as the mind hopes from though to thought. With a sturdy background of moody chords beneath it, the melody swims ahead, referring to its past even as its journeys onward. It may be a chicken-and-the-egg situation w/r/t modern guitar playing and sitar music, but I’m reminded of guitarist Kaki King’s raucous, rainy-day instrumentals. Also, Konstantin is from Germany, so there’s sort of a Slumdog Millionaire thing going on with his interpretation of an Indian instrument. Sort of. Still, it’s a solid ride, if a bit long. The rambunctious strumming and occasional stinging chords from the upper registers prevent it from becoming sedate, despite its traffic volume registering at half that of this week’s other offerings. It may not make a full-on Eastern music convert of you, but play this song and you won’t doubt the next time the word “sitar” pops up on the Audiosurf home page.

Author’s Note

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

Some mega cheating happened on “Happy!” this week, lighting the comment boards aflame. When someone leads the pack by nearly 20x the guy in the Number Two spot, I think it’s safe to say he’s a hacker. The supposed culprit even went so far as to taunt his critics: “Love seeing nerds get so mad over a game. There is a life outside your room. Live it, you'll find it is alot more fun than playing a game all day to get in a top score list.”

Living life is probably also a lot more fun than hacking games all day to annoy people trying to have fun on top score lists.