VOIA and Glass Islands teamed up to create an original and evocative cyberpunk EP, Moving. Moving consists of three tracks with vocals by VOIA and serve more like chapters in a story, rather than three individual songs. Prelude, Moving, and Running, all revolving around a unifying theme of momentum, create a sonic backdrop that evokes the vision of a sprawling cyberpunk metropolis.
This collaborative EP was inspired by the world of Mirror’s Edge, a first person, free running game, originally released on the Xbox 360. The player navigates through a Utopian city as Faith, one of the “runners” that serve as the city’s underground couriers. The idea of momentum plays an integral part in the gameplay mechanics of Mirror’s Edge, as well as the construction of Moving. Between the composition of the tracks, the lyrics, and even the structure of the EP, there are multiples illustrations of momentum.
Looking at the EP as whole, the order and names of the tracks echo the momentum mechanic featured in Mirror’s Edge. The player slowly builds up speed by moving in a continuous direction until they reach full speed, which is necessary to successfully complete most maneuvers; putting focus on fluid movement to maintain momentum. From Prelude to Moving to Running, one can clearly see the progression of the stages of motion that is experienced by the player.
The composition of the tracks echoes this idea, as well. The first track, Prelude, begins with a slow, tranquil, and dreamlike atmosphere. As the track continues, arpeggios and percussion are introduced to build energy as it leads into the next track. Moving begins with a moderate tempo with arpeggios and leads that swell into a steady groove. The groove continues and leads into a double-time break beat section which grows into a half time swung section and ultimately returns to the groove. Running begins much faster with rolling chord pulses. This blossoms into a fast and energetic “4 on the floor” section which seems to be the destination of the whole EP and represents full-speed. This advances into an easy 2-step that feels like flying through the air in a long jump across the rooftops. The 4 on the floor returns to finish the track, resuming the full run after the leap between buildings.
The role of the lyrics in the EP further emphasizes the momentum idea. The entire EP features a single set of lyrics that hint at a dystopian future, similar to the one seen in Mirror’s Edge, and is slowly revealed and developed throughout the work. Prelude features the chorus, but disguised and obscured with various processing including a heavy reverb, almost as if you were hearing it in foggy dream. The chorus is presented in full clarity in the 2nd track, Moving. The lyrics show two characters who seem to be lost and running from something. In the climactic, final track, Running, the full story of the lyrics is established. We see now that the two characters in this futuristic world are separated, perhaps by a break-up, and their relationship with each other is slowly fading away and deteriorating while the narrator is left despondent. The most interesting aspect of the lyrics is the strong contrary motion of the slow reveal and building of the story against the equally slow decline of the characters’ crumbling relationship. The lyrics are intentionally vague as to divert focus from the story itself and allow the listener to imagine their own story in this cyberpunk world.
Moving succeeds at incorporating the theme of the EP on many levels. The momentum idea permeates the lyrics, composition, and structure in a subtle but profound way. One might even think of this as a “concept album” which is not often found in the modern electronic scene, but is a welcome inclusion.