A little about Runaway Droid:
I may as well pack up and move to Finland. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the music coming out of that nordic realm, and Runaway Droid is yet another consistent and talented artist who calls Helsinki his home. A metal guitarist who decided to create retro electro/synthwave music influenced by '80s pop culture, he's released two prior albums ("Fragments" in Dec 2018 and "Explorers" in May 2019) and his songs have varied in tempo and style, yet remain fun, memorable and somewhat nostalgic.
Let's dig in to the "Giant Space Lasers" album:
"Giant Space Lasers" released on August 5th, 2019 on Spotify and Bandcamp. A complete, full-bodied album with nine great tracks and no fillers, this release contains a mix of songs influenced by '80s pop, darksynth and dance, much like Droid's first album "Fragments". While Mr. Runaway says it's not very synthwave, I think it is. With influences like that, how can it not be?
Below I'll try and describe each of the nine songs on the album:
"Broken Code" - The melody to this track reminds me a little of early '90s dance or trance. The underlying bass and harmonies have a nostalgic sound, yet mixed with the newer dance melody, the entirety of the song becomes what we love most about synthwave. A mix of old and new.
“Activation Sequence II” - Droid has created a sequel to "Activation Sequence" from his first album "Fragments". The percussion this time around is softer, giving the track a soft dreamy feel. Whether you are circling around a stellar nursery, or sitting on a bench looking at the waves crashing in at night, this track is perfect for contemplation.
“Giant Space Lasers” - The title track from the album, this song screams retro European vibes. It has a bit of italo-disco, a bit euro-dance, a slightly pop sound going on. What a great ditty. Plucks, filters, and reverbs abound making this a fun song. Guitar riffs jump in near the end to add that extra bit of energy. This song is my favourite off the album. The energy, pacing, and euro sounds remind me of my youth.
“Training Program” - This track was obviously made with a training montage in mind. There's phrasing with energy, then phrasing with rest, and guitar riffs used judiciously when needed.
“Future War” - Another song with trance elements, this track bounces from left to right with smooth synths, containing parts that hint at Terminator a little. Thoroughly enjoyable when played loud in headphones, it has an urgent and strong driving beat.
“Recon Mission” - You can tell Droid has aptly named his tracks based on the feel and imagery the music conveys. This song is no different. Light, airy, and yet slightly suspenseful, it evokes thoughts of stalking, spying, avoiding detection, and generally just being a recon badass.
“Combat Mode” - You can imagine how this track will sound. It kicks in with an energetic valence, pounding with slight guitars, transitioning into some trance like synths, and then...surprise! A fresh cool break where we get a slight sub-continent sound that eventually returns to our high energy riffs. This is my second favourite on this release.
“Cryosleep (Album Mix)” - I'd say this is the slowest track on the album. Melodic, melancholic, and generally quiet, Cryosleep is something to close your eyes to. The tune starts soft and relaxing, and then it starts to build a climax, all while staying soft and dreamy. You feel your spirits being lifted, and just in time, as it feels so short.
“Apocalypse Rewired” - Released two weeks earlier as a single, this track has the most "darksynth" sound on the album. Actually, I'd call it more cyberpunk, but the industrial hints are there, with pounding bass and drums, guitars, and punching rhythm.
So, in summary, I probably should just move to Finland. I'm loving all the work coming out of that great country. I've been a fan of Runaway Droid for a while now, and I'm so happy this album has dropped. It has great pacing while mixing dance, pop, darksynth, and '80s themes to create a fun romp. You can listen to this while driving, while sitting, while working, or simply while being a badass. The release is available on Spotify as well. Visit the Bandcamp page to purchase Giant Space Lasers and while you are there, pick up Droid's prior releases!
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