On the heels of "World That Wasn't" Raygun Ballet returns from the world of tomorrow and charts a course for the land of dreamers. Guided by luminaries both great and small, Raygun Ballet's "Big California" is an American walkabout; a groovy and ethereal pilgrimage through a land of giant donuts, muffler men and magic kingdoms. And in the shadows of old Route 66 gas stations and the faded glory of shuttered Salton Sea motels, "Big California" still finds gold in the Golden State.
As always, Raygun Ballet's genre is elusive at best. Resting somewhere between ambient and downtempo with a dash of post-rock thrown in, it's an easy listen but it tends to evade the granular classifications of EDM. There's a strong preference for vintage gear, like Mellotron, string machines and big, round analog synths, and bits of retro stock music and vocal drops certainly emphasize the past over the present. But the production is an entirely modern affair, with deep, intricate arrangements and seamless continuous mixes.
While words like "epic" are cliché these days, there is something decidedly cerebral and refreshing about the album mix; something that moves your head as well as your feet. Restrained guitars fit snugly in a warm bed of organ swells, string pads and percolating sequencers. The minimalistic leads build to crashing power chords and soaring cinematic crescendos. Rhythmic pulsing bass lines keep it all grounded and grooving. So, while the word "epic" might be overused, "Big California" is certainly a big album for a big land.