It’s with great pleasure today that we get to announce the debut full length release from Robots With Rayguns. Lucas Smith is RWR, a Baltimore native recently relocated to the desert landscape of Phoenix, AZ. For those of you that are regular followers of Binary, you surely must have noticed the remixes we got from RWR for ‘Sweet Carrie’ and ‘December Sunset,’ but today we get a taste of RWR’s synth-laden new record Electro Isn’t Dead, which he’s offering entirely for free on his myspace page here, so I suggest after reading this you head over and see what else the record has to offer.
The album opens with what has ended up being one of my favorite tracks on RWR’s first full length effort. Being one of the producers out there that is making pure and authentic dreamwave music, as it has come to be defined, I have been excited to see the progression from RWR’s very signature sound that you can find on his abundance of remixes to the sound he would craft on a full record of original material. As ‘Free To Feel’ opens, I was happy to be injected into a world of swirling atmospheric pulses, curious to see where these dark and mysterious tones would take me. Anyone that writes music or produces has probably found that the music they like most in life is the stuff that follows the same musical decisions they would make. I feel that way about RWR, primarily in the bass progressions he uses, so that’s why I’ve always taken an interest in the material he puts out. This song is certainly no exception, as at :45 seconds into the song, those delayed Kavinsky-esque pulses blend seamlessly into an emotion packed bassline with a punchy kick and a delicious handclap snare. All the tension and curiosity of the intro dissipates with a big sense of resolution as the song gets its meaning. The song doesn’t evolve much past that, other than to add a great sample of some soaring female vocals letting us know that “everybody’s free to feel good.” But that’s ok, I often like songs that set the mood more than songs that try to say too much.
After the opening track is the lead single off the record, ‘Sugarbaby,’ which you may have seen floating around the blogosphere in the past few months. Here’s a video for that track that would make TNUC proud…
There are some pretty epic dance scenes in there and I’m sure it would take a true ’80s aficionado to put all the pieces together. I was pretty amazed the first time I saw this video and how well it works with the song, it almost seemed too good. Did you guys catch the cameo from Ronald McDonald in there? Yeah, he’s getting down to ‘Sugarbaby’ too.
Whoa, look out. It’s ’80s video fest day here at Binary. This is another great danceable track from Electro Isn’t Dead. The video for ‘Change of Heart’ is equally impressive and perhaps more awesome. When I hear this song I am literally transported back in time and can imagine how awesome it would have been to be hitting these clubs back in 1980s LA, hanging out with people that look and movee just like this. I love the freestyle vibe of this track…the groove, along with the pitched vocal sample, makes me think of the sweaty abandoned dance studios that I picture Lisa Lisa and Debbie Deb hanging out in when the freestyle sound was king.
I’ll leave you with one last track from the album. ‘The Distance’ is a song that progresses from dreamy robo-pop to a desperate and spacey pad driven chorus, featuring a sample of the one and only Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ The whole album is full of vocal samples, some that work better than others, but there are times when RWR really finds a good use for a vocal sample, like the one in the first track, which I really think fits. Here in ‘The Distance,’ some of them are chopped and/or reversed, leaving something that isn’t quite intelligible, but I personally think the point gets across, and musically it works. I like the power of the almost world beat drums that break through the dreamlike pads of this song, and I especially like the arpeggiated sawtooth synth that leads us through the outro on towards the horizon.
Ok, one last goodie…
This is the first track I had heard of RWR, and I got a reluctant Lucas to allow me to put it up, because I think it’s the tops. I know that he didn’t get to spend as much time as he would’ve liked to really touch it up and make it perfect, but I still think it’s a great starting idea for something that was finished well over a year ago, and it will always be something I remember as my introduction to the signature sounds of Robots With Rayguns. I really love the vocal use in this remix, not only in the ways he was able to really highlight the timid yet exceedingly powerful vocals of Whitney, but the creative way he timed the vocals up in the chorus to turn the song on its head. Melodically I think this song delivers big time on the emotion scale. Enjoy!
And be sure to head over to the Robots With Rayguns Myspace page for more info about RWR and to get your own copy of the record!