Shirobon – The Arcade Dream (Aug. 2014)

Reviewed by Ronnie Future (Bryan Eddy)

Shirobon's newest release, "The Arcade Dream," is certainly both ephemeral and memorable, much like a good dream. Like an in-depth game world awaiting a player's exploration, there is rich detail here, as well as plenty of excitement.

In The Arcade Dream, we are launched from a killer intro into a blistering track called "Into The Zone" which features some iconic melody lines, vicious square and saw synth, and overall excellent energy for a lead-in. While the types of synth tones are pretty standard here, they are sharply toned and well-used. Sampled vocals only add to the breakdancing, city-night, almost defiant tone of the song.

Both musicians and music fans are familiar with the concept of a "lull" in an album, where a few tracks are obviously filler... Despite my best efforts, I could not find one in Arcade Dream. The entirety of the album keeps you interested, keeps the beats in your ears, and provides enough variety and power to really have some staying power in your rotation.

One track I'd like to highlight is "Renegade," which evokes images of high-speed cycle chases and lightning-paced peril with its gritty but laser-futuristic melodies. It is characteristic of the album technically as well, with a crisp but rich balance in range and tone. Like the rest of the album, it will definitely have you bobbing your head, too.

"Galactic Freeway" and "Under the Moonlight" provide a mellower, more laid-back offering, while still pulsing with rhythm and physicality. "Fight For You," the final track, is deceptively gentle to begin with, but if you're looking for a slow dance, you're barking up the wrong tree. Even the "slow songs" on Arcade Dream are alive and "kick-your-feet" intense. The second half of the album offers soft intros to songs that are surprisingly upbeat even with their sunglasses-and-palm-trees sound intact. Even the fairly soft "Ralf's Touch" has the listener imagining action, not simply images.
Perhaps the highlight of the album is the collaboration with Sabrepulse, "Cyberstrike." We get another of those great spoken intros, followed by a frenetic and pulsing hi-tempo track that you could dance, exercise, or fight sewer mutants to.

All in all, the album is worth your time if you are a fan of the genre (why else would you be here?), and if you can get a signed digipak copy, all the more power to you.