The purpose of a navigator is to explore. Navigators, the second album from Turbo knight is not only an album about exploration it’s also an album that knows what it wants to be, right from the start.
Overall Navigators is a colossal space opera full of lush synthesizer arpeggios, over the top guitar riffs and memorable vocals. The album is heavily inspired by Frank Herbert's legendary novel Dune which is where the sound and song titles are derived from. Although the album is heavily inspired by Dune, the music style is very much Turbo Knight.
The album starts off not with a bang, but with a murmur. The opening murky notes tell the listener immediately they are on a journey inward. The drums kick in slow and deliberate and the lush synthesizer arpeggios enter in with a simple pacing. The mood of the track is finally completely set when the popular “tears in the rain” sample from the forever inspirational Blade Runner play in. This is the type of song that contains a simple melodic concept and builds upon it. While this may turn off some listeners looking for sonic diversity, I believe this song really sets the tone for what you can expect from the album. It’s a deliberately paced album that’s not as interested in taking the listener for a ride, than taking them on a journey.
Navigators is an album that feels more concerned with setting a mood rather than wanting to make your body move. that being said there are plenty of moments where the album picks up speed showing Turbo Knight's true potential as an artist.
“Arrakis” is a prime example of a track that defies expectations, and takes the listener for an unexpected turn. Just as Arrakis is an integral part of the story of Dune, “Arrakis” is also important to the album and here is the reason: With a slow majestic intro that quickly breaks into a pulse pounding club banger, this track tells the listener that there will always be something new and interesting right around the corner. It’s also the first track on the album that shows the listener the true realization of Turbo Knight’s greatest talent which is diversity. He sets expectations early on that anything goes in Turbo Knight’s universe and the listener should be ready for anything.
The next track “Sleeper Has Awakened” featuring Straplocked seems to pour water on the hot fire left from the previous track. While I would have liked to have the album maintain it's momentum, “Sleeper” holds some good ground with it’s sheer epic-ness. Straplocked does not disappoint either and delivers some really fine guitar work. This song could easily be placed in the final scenes of any great sci-fi movie.
Turbo Knight is certainly not afraid to take risks with his sound and this will never be as apparent as with his next track “Spice Must Flow.” This song is a brilliant example of Turbo Knight’s prolific talents. This may be the first time I have ever seen someone attempt to blend middle eastern vocals and rhythms with synthwave and Turbo Knight pulls it off flawlessly. “Spice Must Flow” is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.
“Don’t Forget Me” with Madelyn Darling was my first introduction to Turbo Knight. It’s been out for at least a year now and yes, listening to it never gets old. Madelyn Darling’s vocals are simply unforgettable and with a strong melody, this certainly is the high point of the album.
“The Dragon in the Sea of Sand” featuring Ultraboss is next and it’s simply over the top awesomeness. While the melody is fairly simple and straightforward, it’s the guitar work by Ultraboss that quickly gets all the attention. One might consider this track to be one big guitar solo, and that is certainly alright with me. It’s easily some of the best guitar work I have heard in a long time and certainly a song that will linger in the mind long after listening.
“Water of Life” has a nice opening melody and wonderful twinkling arps. While certainly not the strongest song on the album, it does have some really nice builds. It is well produced with some really nice chord progression.
The chord progression on the next track “Age of Fremen” certainly got my attention. It’s another well produced track with a nice tempo transition mid-way through. The repeated melody is fairly basic but it’s the buildup that really makes this sound pleasing to listen to. It might not be my go to track, but there certainly enough things going on to make it a nice fit for the album.
One of the highlights of the album is also it’s namesake “Navigators.” Starquake Synthmaster delivers some amazing guitar work that would give Eddie Van Halen a run for the money. Strong arpeggios and some really nice chord stabs punctuate the already brilliant track. If I were to pick a standout track this would have to be it. It absolutely delivers on all levels and is a perfect example of someone doing synthwave right.
Rounding out the album are “House Harkonnen” with Sunesis and “Together We’re Alone” featuring Magnus. Both vocal tracks but delivered quite differently. Sunesis provides an excellent storytelling element while Magnus rounds out the album with a very nice lead part. “Together We’re Alone” leads the listener out of the album like a navigator washed away in the tide. It certainly places a very nice end cap that brings the listener full circle.
All in all I really liked the journey that Turbo Knight took me on. Navigators is full of interesting twists and turns. While I wasn’t always thrilled about all the paths it took me on, in the end it was a journey worth taken.
Navigators will be released May 25th but you can catch a special exclusive track early on the next episode of The State of Synth.