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Electron Odyssey - Your Future Awaits

Dear readers, it’s been a bit. Life has a way of taking all the fun out of things and putting you in a rush to where, even the most enjoyable things in life turn into either habit or rushed half-experiences that you don’t really get to appreciate. Those who appreciate my perspectives on music, as presented on Pop Art Ave may have noticed a serious lack of, well, me, lately. Life has been happening quite a bit, but I haven’t had as much time to sit down and really enjoy some of the things I love in life, like writing or music. Or writing about music. I’d post a Tweet here or a quick Bandcamp review of a single there, but free time has not been an abundant commodity lately, so most of my music listening has been either in the car (which makes writing difficult and possibly illegal) or in the background while I work on whatever life is throwing at me.

Why do I bring this up? This is a pop culture website, not excuses-dot-com. Well, these things bring me to a recent experience. I got a digital copy of Electron Odyssey’s Your Future Awaits and while working on something or other, I turned this album on, intending to partake of some pleasant background music whilst doing things. According to Electron Odyssey’s Bandcamp page, EO’s Jeff Spoonhower has many years in video games and video game music, so what better choice, right?

Problem is, I barely got past the opener, “Meet The Horizon” before I realized that this wasn’t background music. I had to stop the album and set it aside. This was full attention music, and I was going to have to find the time to give it exactly that. It took a bit, but tonight was the night, and it was entirely worth it.

The liner notes on Bandcamp paint this album as the work of a man who has crafted work in the video game industry for 20 years, doing art direction, animation, and sound design, but chose this work to express his love of music in many genres and styles in his own personal vision and it does not disappoint. His love of classic funk and soul are apparent in “Show Me The Way.”

Sci-Fi and Outrun get some love on “Computers Control.” “Where Memories Go” is dark and stark like space itself.

The album features two guest vocalists. “Autumn Words” features synth powerhouse extraordinaire and fellow gaming composer Megan McDuffee. McDuffee vocals on a track are always a wise choice of a discerning synthwave producer, but on this track, they achieve something truly epic together. It reminds me, not in melody or structure, but in vibe and atmosphere, of Bryan Ferry’s “Is Your Love Strong Enough?” and from the film Legend, and, like that song, it feels like it could be the pinnacle of some grand adventure.

“The Stars Disappear” feature a vocalist I’ve not heard before named Drew Tyler. This is a passionate synthrock song, much like “Autumn Words,” part rock song, part cinematic storytelling. The bridge features a dynamic synth/drum breakdown and ends with an intense guitar solo.

Like most great albums, any track on Your Future Awaits could be a favorite depending on the day and mood, but I have to say “Dream With Your Eyes Open” grabbed me the hardest tonight, with its robotic choir and hard shifts from quiet celestial bliss into intense battle rock.

Ultimately, this album achieves so much. In its 47 minutes, it references so many genres and styles, both musical and cinematic, touching on sci-fi and fantasy, guitar rock and synth pop, funk, synthwave, and orchestral. In lesser hands, the desire to express so much so intensely could have been confusing or jarring, but Spoonhower brings his experience to bear and, for this, we get an album that cohesively flows from strength to strength, varying the landscape but keeping the journey moving, both in energy and in emotion.

Life comes at you hard. Sometimes you have to try to make time for the things that move your heart and heal your spirit. From what I can tell, Electron Odyssey was intended to express the things Jeff Spoonhower had in his heart. But in doing so, he reminded me to take some time to enjoy the things that are important to me in this endless storm called life, and in doing so, I get to spend a few minutes expressing things in my heart, as well, so thank you.