The Freshmen Series: Rale Daver’s ‘Big Trouble’ EP a welcome take on synthwave

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 5:35 PM
The Freshmen Series: Rale Daver’s ‘Big Trouble’ EP a welcome take on synthwave by Livia Homerski

Edinboro alumnus Race Dauer is the mind behind the synthwave project Rale Daver. A self-professed “closet musician,” Dauer has been playing drums for several years and turned to programming electronic music while away from his kit. The “Big Trouble” EP was released in October of 2017, and since then, has been racking up Soundcloud listens. 

Synthwave is an instrumental genre brewed with the ‘80s in mind, where there is a focus on video game sounds and science fiction aesthetics. The synths on “Big Trouble” lack the typical cuteness that dominates chiptune, and instead, cuts right to the action with EDM-friendly hooks and drops. The EP’s feeling is dark, but illuminated by bright flashes of the neon lights in a video game sequence.

“Top Chief” opens with ambient pilot sounds and gives way to heartbeat-like percussion and a searing saw bass. It’s a jarring transition soothed by organic percussion that sounds as though it’s being played on an old steel can. The rhythm builds towards the middle, and churns out the rest of the song into a heroic gallop. The fluidity of this first track challenges the listener’s attention, but prepares them for what’s to come. 

“Finding Will” is a track inspired by hit thriller series “Stranger Things” in both the title and rolling electronic bass. There’s some production ear-candy in the vibraphone plinks & drum beats that oscillate between your left and right headphones or speakers. The attention to detail regarding the placement of percussion accents serves as evidence of Dauer’s ear as an actual drummer. He takes advantage of the things you can do while programming that wouldn’t be feasible with just one live drummer.

Synth rich and gloomy, “Dark Star” is an intergalactic journey. Propelled by robotic hand drums and determination in the uplifting chord progressions, “Dark Star” requires several spins to catch all of the unique sounds and changes the song will go through. The last minute of this track is one of the sparkling high points of the album, a catchy organ riff and drums creating a strong, triumphant ending. 

“Big Trouble” is the boss battle and thus, an appropriate moniker of the EP. It’s very dark and conjuring while building up to a launching climax. This song definitely would fall under the cyber-punk umbrella due to the creepy drama and sample. While “Big Trouble” is much heavier than the other tracks on the EP, it remains cohesive thanks to the organic reverb effect on the chimes. The song ends abruptly with a ringing bell that quickly fades out, a brief cliffhanger for the next adventure. 

The EP thoughtfully juxtaposes organic instruments amidst the elasticity of the synths, an unexpected but welcome take on the soundscapes synthwave can offer. This is a short release, but the songs are very rich in song structure. Everything sounds as though it has a purpose and a story behind it. This collection could easily be heard in the background of a high action video game or the next dystopian movie. The music works well enough without lyrics, and the 1980s nostalgia runs rampant. 

Livia Homerski can be reached at

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