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Synth EP Review: "Signal Loss" by Game Genie Sokolov

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


Game Genie Sokolov’s Signal Loss EP explores FM synth tones and timbres with richly layered sounds and a distinct retro VGM sensibility that overflows with dynamic energy.

“O.P. 5 7” comes into being with clanking metallic sounds and a swirl of bell-like FM synth along with rippling arpeggios that drift over the steady pulse of massive drums. The lead synth melody is carried on the bell instrument's twinkling brightness.

The melody has a jazzy, floating feeling as a string-like synth ripples through the music. The lead synth has a clean quality as it carries the floating light of the the melody over deep flows of warm sound and the bursting throb of the big drums.

An arpeggio whirls through and the high synth instrument calls out in a distant, roaming line as smoother synths drift and a digital sounding element floats. The drums burst and pop and the shimmering sounds glide along as a vibrating 8-bit sound moves in and through in a dynamically repeating pattern.

The rough background's harsh vibration forms a steady pulse while round, shining FM synth flows in an undulating line to open “Dream.” Massive retro drums burst below computerized notes as a lower and a higher line intertwine in a head-bobbing and slightly uneven melody. There’s a feeling of progress in the melody as it calls out over the popping drums and oscillating, sharp-edged bass line.

Swirls of delicate sound are sliced by the lead synth's airy height as it calls out in a gliding pattern. There’s a break into a gently climbing, warming synth flowing in hazy sunlit notes over the evolving pulse below it. The blunt, hard-hitting drums throb into the music, the gentle melody glimmers and arpeggiating 8-bit sounds flutter in. Bright, clear FM synth sounds move around the melody and all of the musical elements interlock into a tapestry while the glitter of diamond-like high synth fades out.

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“Cruisin’” commences with beach sounds and a distant radio playing music. A chiming, flashing synth with a jangly feeling dances into the music in a bursting, explosive pattern while luscious bass throbs and the drums move in a broken pulse. The chimes glitter and shine while the slightly gruff bass moves in a flowing line.

There’s a sharp edge in the music as the gleaming, metallic chimes flicker and a digital-sounding melody with a touch of wistfulness flows over the hard-hitting drums and gritty bass, shining with a clean glow. All of the layered musical elements meld into a cohesive whole before the track ends on deep bass throb.

A stuttering, clattering beat and medium-high, nasal sounding synth swells bring “Output” to life. Quick, fluttering arpeggios flow along while thick bass blocks shift and the drums burst and throb. A mechanized, metallic segment combines clanking noise over the heavy throbbing beat as the rippling digital arpeggios cut in. A guitar repeats an active note pattern that adds more energy.

Deep bass sweeps and jangling, computerized notes flow out in a harshly glowing drift as the drums keep stuttering. The gruff guitar carries a leaping solo that explodes with a boundless feeling of freewheeling flight. The track returns to the breaking, pulsating drums and fluttering digital arpeggiation. A dreaming drift of chiming notes adds more brightness to the sound before the track ends on a twisted vocal sample.

“Transware” starts off as shining, slightly distorted synths form an energetic and funky flow. Rougher-edged sounds kick in and an oscillating bassline wriggles while round FM synth notes dance over the deep, throbbing drums and dense bass to propel the music. An angular, cutting synth line carries a driving note pattern while shinier synths chime in above it.

Xylophone bounces in over the steadily throbbing beat and thick bass as the leaping dynamism of the guitar adds a positive, uplifting feeling and the big drums keep the music moving. The track’s sonic building blocks mingle to create a melodic line that erupts with life as drums underpin it. The piece ends on the bubbling xylophone.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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