Album Review by Preston Dildine, Album Art by Sara Jones
Photo by Angela Leisure
It has been a long minute since I have had the pleasure of reviewing an album, and this particular one gave me goosebumps. A phenomenal piece of art to come back to, this album has a sound quite all its own. Robots and Magic Powers is a “sonic rock” group based out of Indianapolis, IN. The group consists of Jeremiah on guitar/vocals, Davina on bass guitar, Ceres on keyboards/cello, and J.J. on drums/percussion. Together, they create a sound all their own. (A sound I would love to hear live one of these days. But I digress.)
The journey of this album begins with dissonant voices, all echoing off of one another to an electronic backing, increasing in energy until it all falls silent, and the vocals begin. This is a power ballad if ever I heard one. The vocals are computerized, and gives the track a dark edge. I feel as though I am on the brink of a space battle, and I am unsure of whose side I’m listening to. The accompaniment has a very powerful drive to it that pushes us further into the story unfolding. An easy, but intense listen. “Forever and ever ignite.” Oh boy.
“Beautiful” is the title of the next track, and we are jolted by a complex musical intro that leaves us with no time to catch our breath. A love song, but not in any typical way that we have ever heard one. This is not some gushy up tempo fluff served with a side of chocolates. This is not a slow, angsty ballad of wish and want. This is raw emotion, bleeding out into the atmosphere to the rhythm of a million heartbeats. A beautiful piece.
“Iron Betty”. A very robotic or animatronic opening, leading us into one word: “Freedom”! This track feels like angst. But angst done right. This song is a fighter. We have ourselves another power ballad, but we are on the offense. “But I fight, and I bleed. Your own god won’t save you from yourself.” Amen? I felt those lyrics cut straight through me. This is a song that everyone needs to hear.
We open with a gong? This is a whole new sound entirely. A bit tribal. Reminiscent of…arabian dancers? So far, the vocals are simply…vocalizing. “Free again.” What is? What has been unleashed? I am pleasantly nervous at the story unfolding in this track. Have we met our villain, as if this album was a story with a through plot? Ah, but now we have a heartbeat drive that reminds me of an 80s rock ballad. Ladies and gentlemen, I am in love with a track, and I am unsure even what it is. But I am enthralled. “Free Again” is, so far, my favorite track on this album.
“Tune In”. A nice little palate cleanser. An intermission moment, if you will. Literally tuning in to a nice little message from the band.
“Call (All Your Friends)”. Alright, I think I will. We’re easing into the second half of the album with some soft rock. Without giving anything away about the story, this track feels like soft rain. Almost as though we are being absolved of our wrongdoings.
This track flows seamlessly into the next, entitled “Angel of Mercy”. We open with a monologue in which the female speaker tells us of a visit from an angel. This angel, at first heavensent, becomes something else entirely at a later realization. This is a beautiful metaphor.
The hard rock drive is back, and I am here for it. We have angst, we have anger, we have sadness, and that is all within the opening instrumental. This is a PSA on leadership, past and present. Interestingly enough, they used famous speeches from past presidents. That moment gave me chills, I’m not going to lie.
“Fear Follows”. I feel like I know where this is going. “Thought I had my mind made up, but it’s changing again!” This is a song of yearning, of being unsure of what to do. My thinking is that they mean in the current climate, but I could be filling in the blanks with the wrong things.
And we’ve arrived at our final track of the album. Our finale ultimo. “Lost 36*”. Guitar chords combined with futuristic ambiance and displaced vocals. It sounds like tuning, and then we fade out. I don’t know that I expected an ending quite like that, but I also find it fitting.
Well done, R.A.M.P.! I had a wonderful time visiting your album again and again to write this review. As I said before, I would love to see you like sometime, if only to see how you create your sound in a live setting. And, dear reader, if you are in the market for something futuristic with a heavy rock drive with plenty of twists and turns, this album is the one for you. Bravo!
Check out their website at www.robotsandmagicpowers.com