Synth Album Review: "Across The Dark Sky" by Lightracer
Lightracer’s latest album, Across the Dark Sky, is a high energy blast across the wilds of outer space. It evokes giant mecha battling it out against a starry backdrop, futuristic anime fighter jets rocketing past colourful planetscapes and classic space shooters from the golden age of console games. It’s an album full of engaging melodies, rockin’ guitar solos and a general sense of dynamism that pours from it.
The melodic writing is first rate on this album. There’s a lot of brightness, positivity and energy in the melodies that Lightracer has written. Those great melodies are further supported by synth and guitar tone choices that further boost the space combat imagery that I get from the tracks on the album. On top of it all, a lot of the melodies are damn catchy!
Another element of Across the Dark Sky that I enjoyed was the guitar. It has a real “space shooter” vibe that reminds me of classic games like R-Type and Gradius. Whether the guitar is growling, soaring or shredding there’s an enormous well of energy and a sense of fun being had that pours from the headphones or speakers. This is an album that left me feeling pretty energized.
All of the percussion and bass choices on the album helped to maintain that energy level. There’s a real sense of motion and drive to the beats and bass on the album that sits underneath the music and bolsters the melodic content of the album. They’re a strong part of the overall sense of speed and movement that I felt emanating from the album.
It’s the sense of fun that I enjoy most about this album. It’s pretty clear to me that Lightracer had a blast working on it and I think that enjoyment comes through in the exuberance of all of the music. There’s a level of entertainment about the way the upbeat melodies, guitar work and driving beats interact to produce the overall sound of the album.
Now I’m going to take some time and break down the tracks from Across The Dark Sky that I most enjoyed and share my reasons for that enjoyment with you, my readers!
The first track that really caught my ear was “Tournament of Titans.” This is a track that I’d call “boss music.” It gave me vibes of frantically fighting through a video game level to finally reach the level boss. There’s pounding drums and bass, a howling guitar line that slices through the music and a trumpeting synth melody brimming with energy. The forceful, driving nature of the beat gives it intensity and there’s a fun shredding guitar solo towards the back half of the track that I enjoyed hearing.
“Stranger In The Night” is probably the most laid back track on the album. It’s very smooth with deep bass that oscillates along with the percussion and an airy flow of sustained synth sweeps moves through the music. The melody on this track has a wistful, gentle quality to it. I almost got folk song vibes off of the melodic approach here. This is a charming track in which all of the elements glide along in a loose-limbed sort of way and provide a bit of rest from the exuberance of the rest of the album.
The “flying shooter” vibes were quite evident in “On The Grid.” There are hard hitting drums, driving guitar and a propulsive beat. It has the guitar sound that Japanese VGM composers tried to emulate in many of the flying shooters. There’s a soaring feeling to the melody and the guitar riffs rock hard. Small accents of chiming synth sound add speed and energy to the track. I could just picture tearing through space, dodging barrages of enemy attack as that guitar sharply sings. This track was great fun to hear.
In keeping with the affinity that I felt this album had for video game vibes, Towards New Adventures is definitely fitting as an end track. It reminds me a great deal of the “end credits” themes from so many space shooters. There’s a feeling of streaking through space in between the beat and the singing synth line. The melody has a sense of victory tinged with a little melancholy. We’ve lost friends along the way, but ultimately our forces have triumphed and we’re flying off into space, in search of new enemies to fight and battles to win.
One thing that I truly enjoy about the current state of music created by the #synthfam is that people are willing to have fun. Across The Dark Sky is a well-written, well-produced album, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I got the feeling that Lightracer just had a good time and really went for it. It certainly made the music enjoyable for me and I plan on listening to it more in the future.