Having released her debut song-based album ‘Moving Spaces’ in Summer 2021, German Filipino musician and producer Laura Dre swiftly followed it up by the end of the year with an ambitious radio play presentation entitled ‘Kyoto Dreams’ which comprised of Citypop instrumentals and spoken word.

Fast forward to 2022 and Laura Dre is back with another album and yet another direction; ‘Akari LD-01’ showcases her love of retro-futuristic cyberpunk and sci-fi, combining the music of ‘Blade Runner’ with trance and techno in collaboration with concept artist and illustrator Tida Kietsungden.

Soundtracking an imaginary Sci-Fi movie, this synth instrumental collection presents an immersive cyberpunk universe in the 23rd century. Standing for “Art Defines Zero One”, the story imagines life in a futureworld on a planet named Hellcore IV. There, the tech is so advanced that humans can’t distinguish between humans, augmented humans and androids made by the Xetashell Corporation who are run an evil lady named Ms Dre who despite being human, possesses special cybernetic augmentations…

Setting the scene, ‘Eternal’ comes with ominous sweeps, electronic percussion and strident themes, although ‘Hellcore IV’ is even more imposing yet hook laden. Beating with a heavy triplet that maintains a powerful presence, ‘Chimera’ conjures a desolate vision but ‘Akari’ ups the tempo and plays with pitched up voices and sequenced koto textures for a driving club friendly highlight.

Complete with drops and ribbon controlled effects, even more dance friendly is the mighty and glorious ‘Resistance’ with its own synthetic battle of wits.

With no let up, ‘Shinjuku 2.0’ exotically gatecrashes into full-on trance vibes. Meanwhile, ‘Habitat 5’ enters DEPECHE MODE meets Perfecto territory… and yes, as a song which Dre covered, you can even sing ‘Strangelove’ to it!

No less lacking in the power department is the excellent ‘L1thium’ which still glistens amongst the dystopian moods. Taking down the pace slightly while still maintaining an addictive rhythmic hold, ‘Division 3184’ continues the apocalyptic tension.

Then as the androids become almost indestructible and ready themselves for combat, the album closes as it started with ominous tones swathing the spacey ‘Xetashell Corporation’. After the alluring popwave of ‘Moving Spaces’ and prettier keys in some musical sections of ‘Kyoto Dreams’, the starker gritty futurism of ‘Akari LD-01’ will come as a surprise, although ‘Superficial Cyberlove’ from the former had pointed to those possibilities.

But ‘Akari LD-01’ displays yet another facet in Laura Dre’s musical armoury. This independently-produced club friendly opus is a compelling listen with its mix of fast and midtempo tracks revealing more layers on each listen.

‘Akari LD-01’ is available in vinyl LP, CD, minidisc, cassette, USB floppy disk + digital formats from https://lauradre.bandcamp.com/album/akari-ld-01










Text by Chi Ming Lai
19th March 2023, 22nd June 2023