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Starcadia - Click to view! If you couldn't tell from my review of Love Liberty Disco, disco music has never really appealed to me, especially when the Newsboys are doing it. In this case, however, I have to make an exception. Taking a break from being knee-deep in the Legacy series, Ronnie Martin found time to crank out Starcadia, a stylish EP of 70’s influenced synthesizer music. And thankfully, the liner notes are absent of any pictures that might have been taken of him wearing a leisure suit and fake afro. In short, it's disco done right.

Like the previous Legacy Volume 1: The White Songbook project, Starcadia was recorded using entirely analogue synthesizers and vocals only. Joy Electric's website does a pretty good job of reviewing the CD on its own, but for those of you who want the quick low-down, here it is. "The Matterhorn" opens the disc and automatically wins favor with its hard-edged synth beats and Ronnie's slick "All right." As always, trying to decipher the meaning of Ronnie's lyrics is like trying to get Pax 217 to sound good, but joyelectric.com states the lyrics "[recount] a love lost story set in the heart of modern-day Disneyland" (we'll take your word for it, Ronnie). It's also a very dark track, much like any White Songbook material, but disappointingly ends after a short, unsatisfying two minutes.

The title track and "Circa 1978" are the two instrumental pieces featured on the EP. "Starcadia" is much more bouncy, with more variation than "Circa 1978," which sounds more monotone than anything. It's easy to link "Starcadia" to a piece that would be found in one of the happier moments of E.T., while "Circa 1978" would most likely be pushed to the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The single factor that keeps "Circa 1978" interesting is how the programmed beeps resemble dripping water in a cave, each one resonating with a different tone. On the other hand, "Starcadia" sounds like a glorified "Jingle Bells." There's even the sound of a chilly winter wind blowing in the background.

"Dance to Moroder" is about...well...dancing to music by Giorgio Moroder, an artist from the early 70’s who, according to Martin, made "hi-energy disco club hits." The track follows suit delightfully, with energetic blips, deep surging pulses, and lyrics about two people who fall in love on the dance floor. Listeners won't be able to help smiling while hearing this one.

Technology is ironically given a blow in "Carousel of Progress," the EP's finishing piece. The lyrics are very blurred and distorted, but the question that stands out is "How is progress made when it stops before it's time?" We're given this to reflect upon in a musical setting best described as "electropunk"—very upbeat and sonically charged. It's one of the deeper, darker tunes included on the EP, much in the same vein as "The Matterhorn," but not much longer at only two minutes and 26 seconds. It's a fine conclusion, but it could be expanded in so many more directions, and we're left wanting.

On the artistic side, Starcadia is a fine piece of work. The songs are well crafted, as are most of Ronnie Martin's creations, and the temporary departure from the Legacy series is not a let down. However, the foremost complaint is that the 5-song EP clocks in at only a little over thirteen minutes in length, leaving listeners begging for more. Overlook this, and you have another successful project. Since this an a limited edition EP, there is a limited number of copies and only the most dedicated of fans will ever get their hands on it. In this case, we recommend picking up The White Songbook for satisfying your current electric cravings.
- Rick Foux
May 2002
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