It's the long awaited debut studio album from Vancouver's The Runaway Four. The six song album reminds me of classic rock albums like Pink Floyd. I'm talking, the type of album that only has half a dozen tracks, but lasts an hour and takes you through a variety of genres and emotions.
Things start off very classy with the opening medley This Game is Baroquen. Puns also. We are off to a very good start. My personal favorite though, even before I heard it, is the Ice level tribute Boreal Bedlam. The track is even better than I imagined, kicking off with the soft snowfall of Snowman from Earthbound. Only my (second) favorite theme from Earthbound. Despite the endless ice, things heat up as the track leads toward the upbeat rhythms of the Vanilla Lake theme from the original Super Mario Kart. I could write an entire article about Vanilla Lake. This track also adds to the wintery feel with great instrument choices and the overall vibrancy on the track. The medley not only jumps from game to game, but through time as well, as the band kicks it up another notch for the Frappe Snowland / Sherbert Land theme from Mario Kart 64. They drive this ice sculpture of a track home with perhaps one of the most famous snow themes in gaming, the furious race down Super Mario 64's Cool, Cool Mountain. I'm definitely going to have this medley on endless repeats to get me through the 100+ degree summers here in the California desert,
The track getting major rotation lately though, to thaw myself from the winter cold, is Magma Mayhem, and as the name suggests, this medley is filled with the aggressive rumbling of a flowing volcano. The piano and drums take center stage to start the track, winding through the Primitive Mountain of Chrono Trigger to the desert oasis of the Scaraba Bazaar of Earthbound.
This medley business gets serious in the next track, the grandiose seventeen minutes titled Battle Royale! The track slowly builds ominously through the classic battle themes of several Final Fantasy games. The journey continues through a huge variety of genres and moods and ever more games of course. We here the hard banging sounds of Smithy's Fortress from Super Mario RPG at around thirteen minutes in, which I feel obligated to point out for some reason. Then the drums fall into a crazed rhythm that drives home the jackhammer nature of the song before bursting into more classic game tunes than I can write down before they're onto the next reference until finally culminating in an ode to Mega Man. Like any gret rock album, things have to end on a somber, more reflective note, and what theme describes that better than Sanctuary from the highly esteemed Earthbound soundtrack. Makes sense, given the groups name as well. Remember all the times, good and bad, fun and trying, as the debut studio album from The Runaway Four fades to a close.
This album took me a lot of places I haven't been in a while, what with the dozens of games referenced, all with a certain haste that kept any nostalgia in a state of fuzziness as my gaming memories warped into one another. This is a wonderful listen for music fans who like to take their time and saunter through each musical landscape.