Thursday, October 27, 2016
The Wild Style Of Robots With Rayguns
By Jerry Herrera
Something I’ve wondered in my journeys in this retro wonderland, is why producers only tap into a few of the myriad of retro influences at their disposal. Don’t get me wrong, I think every subgenre has artists who further the boundaries of what that particular sound can be, and in their own little way are wizards and necromancers that have breathed life into what would have been an otherwise forgotten chapter in music history.
But one of my favorite things to do in traffic is put on the “old school” radio station and just rock out to all the R&B classics, the freestyle jams, and all the pioneering hip hop I can cram into that hour or so on the freeway. The music is just the right balance of brilliant and cheesy and there was a lot of innovation happening that’s either been forgotten or bastardized by modern pop. So I really wish more producers in our scene would explore those sounds a little more, or at least take a few hints from the pop/club music of that era.
Robots With Rayguns is the first producer I think of when I think of retro pop and dance. Indeed when I first started exploring the genre and was looking for artists that “got” that sound and aesthetic, the video for Sugarbaby stands out in my memory. It was pretty much everything I could hope for. There was nostalgia but with a modern twist and relevant sensibilities, with all the makings of something I would hear on current Top 40 stations.
RWR is back with Wild Style and he continues to bring the freshness. There’s a signature sound that RWR has maintained throughout his releases and while he explores a lot of different genres on Wild Style, this sound anchors the whole album. Thick basslines, dreamy pads, and pitch bent vocal samples and snippets are the cornerstones of a RWR track but I also don’t think they become repetitive or overused at any point on the album. It’s an addictive sound and RWR effectively uses those tools to create many different feels across Wild Style.
While there may be a unifying handful of elements on Wild Style, stylistically the album goes to many different places and I’m personally satisfied with RWR’s exploration of each. There’s a little bit of hip hop, a little pop, a little freestyle and a little bit of late ‘80s/early ‘90s dance in there. RWR wears his influences on his sleeve and all of them are fun and brash and colorful. I can’t think of that many synthwave artists that are as in love with the bright and funky fresh side of the ‘80s as RWR is.
Probably the best example, in an album full of adrenalin inducing tracks, is Sweat It Out. I feel like the whole album leads up to this track. It features all the signature RWR elements and it’s charming enough and stays within the harmless dance neighborhood but toward the end, it explodes. It’s a track that starts off thumping but ends with a slam, and while you might have been kind of dancing in your chair while listening to Wild Style, Sweat It Out yanks you out of your chair and demands that you throw down your best moves right there in the middle of the living room.
It can be argued that RWR is one of, if not THE only guy out there with this fun and funky approach to the synth scene so the world is kind of his oyster. Yet he doesn’t let that dull his sense of quality and integrity. Wild Style is full of content and puts a smile on anyone’s face. However you purchase it, make sure you play it loud.
Robots With Rayguns presents Wild Style, available on his Bandcamp page here in downloadable formats as well as limited edition runs on cassette and compact disc and it comes very, very higly recommended from Synthetix.FM