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Synth Album Review: "Colonizer" by Sonic Gap

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Sonic Gap’s Colonizer takes the listener on a journey, telling the story of Selena, who sets out to become a moon colonist in 2121. There’s a sense of great space adventure, but Sonic Gap’s signature approach to synth music hasn’t been abandoned to chase after a specific “spacesynth” sound. A luscious, wide ranging synth palette combines with Sonic Gap’s melodic flair, a strong bass and drum underpinning and perhaps a more hopeful approach to painting an image of a futuristic life on a new planet.

I’m drawn to the richness of the synth sounds that Sonic Gap uses on Colonizer. He has drawn from the full range of possibilities from high sparkles to singing warmth and from thick, deep bass to jazz organ. Each sound has been carefully chosen and deployed to paint strong musical imagery. The moods of the different tracks are well-crafted as Sonic Gap brings together disparate musical elements into a cohesive whole.

The melodies that Sonic Gap has written for the album are undeniable. There’s a clarity to their emotional expression that cuts right to the heart of each track. Great melodies have a way of sounding as if you’ve always known them and the melodies on Colonizer have that quality. I also enjoy his skill when it comes to fitting the melodies within the broader musical tapestry of each track.

Spacesynth music often goes for a vast, sweeping, majestic sound. I am not opposed to it at all, but I do enjoy how Colonizer creates a less aloof environment, while still conveying the alien nature of the moon. There’s a feeling of embarking on a new, exciting adventure rather than being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of space and a new world that I find quite engaging.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Colonizer” starts off with distant, high, harsh digital sounds that writhe through the openness that surrounds them as a rapid steady pulse of lower synth is joined by a pounding kick drum and Kaarin Zoe Lee's smooth voiceover comes in to lay out Selena’s story. The pounding beat keeps the track moving along while there are tense pulses of oscillating sound and a nervous motion from the higher synths.

I enjoy the robotic quality of chopped up, vocal synth sound that moves in thick slabs. A warm, round, trumpeting synth sings a caressing, leaping melody that is full of a feeling of new beginnings that will soon dawn. Computerized pulses flow around the main melody as a glitching and distorted pulse of twisting synth is joined by elevated, shining sounds. There’s a break to a jazzy melodic section before we return to the striving, uplifting lead melody.

Metallic, popping sounds bounce through the track as “Machine Learning” begins. Dark, hard edged bass descends and a quickly spinning series of bright arpeggios rises and falls, adding texture as they spin. Low, misty synth flows in the background in a series of shifting chords while the drums throb to shape the music.

I find the pained, singing quality of the main melody quite touching as it calls out over shimmering synths and driving drums. The uneven pulse slides through with a harsher edge while synth chords rise around it and we return to the pained, dreaming lead synth melody over its bed of flowing drums and bass. The track ends on the elevated, glittering melody and deep bass.

“Weightless” comes into being with a wandering, distorted line of glimmering raised synth and a pulsing kick drum. An oscillating, shifting bassline propels the track forward while the high musical line wanders through and contrasting synth chords all move together. A warmer, easier flow of synth glides in a mellow pattern of notes below the high synth as the melody, carried on an angular, medium-low synth, comes in.

I enjoy the combined energy and sense of yearning in the melody as it calls out into the track with a tinge of melancholy. Sparkling, hollow pipes flash in and a secondary melodic line leaps out. A synth like a jazz organ carries a shining, minor key pattern of notes before the lead melody reaches out and glows again. A profound sense of need and yearning pour from the melody as it moves over the steady beat and sparkling, shifting high synth.

Chiming, caressing jazz organ dances into “Coming Home” along with a unique sounding bass pulse and a shimmering line of elevated synth. The full-sounding drums add their beat while a nasal, sunlit synth carries an enfolding melody. I am drawn to the sensation of gentle caring that emanates from the melody. It is indeed the feeling of coming home, touched by a nostalgic ache.

A jumping, shifting pattern of high notes calls out above the melody. After a drum fill, a robotic series of vocal sounds moves below the dreamy melody as it sings out, speaking of comfortable, familiar things. The flashes of light sparkle and shine, the beat and bass support the track and the vocal pattern of synth adds unique feelings.

“Late Night In Space” opens on piano chords that move in a slow, smooth musical pattern with an emotive tremble in it as the steady drums add a soothing pulse. Quick trickles of distant, floating synth sound move through the music.

There’s static crackle along with reverberating drums while that pattern of chords alternates through and out. I am enamoured of the minimalist, spare quality of the track, delicate and a little sad as the far-off, elevated synth sound keeps flowing and the piano chords feel lost and alone before fading into silence.

An ethereal choir of voices moves in the background as a bouncing line of energetic, positive synth carries a glimmering melodic pattern to start “Rocket” off. An oscillating pattern of dynamic bass throbs in along with tapping drum sounds while the uneven pattern of synth wanders and roams, dancing in medium-high lines while the active bassline adds more propulsion.

The background sounds are cosmic as they flow. I enjoy the gentle melody that sings out while the arpeggiating synth line keeps gyrating through over the solid energy of the drums and bass. A bright melodic line dances on a smoother, swirling synth and the arpeggio adds some shape to the music while the melody yearns up above it, reaching out for the stars.

“Lunar Cruise” comes to life with a flowing, easily drifting background that’s joined by flickering lights and an electric bassline. A high, nasal synth plays pinched notes and the jazz organ glides in, feeling ultra lounge-y and cool, as it mooches through the track. Glassy synth smoothly moves in whorls as the bass adds depth and shape. The nasal melodic line wriggles through while the sparkling lights flicker around it.

I find the laid back, chill, jazzy organ melody quite ear-pleasing as it makes its journey. A round, slightly rough-edged synth calls out in a pattern of brighter notes that urge the music forward while the drum and bass pulse supports the other elements, everything slipping along with a creamy motion.

Deep, dark bass echoes out along with metallic chimes that carry extended over the smoothly rocking motion of the drums to open “Shackleton Crater.” A synthesized female vocal sound moves in a steadily flowing choir while a robotic voice adds an alien quality to the track. The drums have an uneven quality underneath a slow, bright arpeggio.

I enjoy the feeling of wandering across a bleak landscape in this track. The choral voices move in an otherworldly sounding pattern and the organ adds notes that slide out and through the track. The arpeggio revolves in cosmic circles and the ethereal synth choir adds to the extraterrestrial feel of the music.

“Explorer 2121” begins on quick 8-bit notes that sweep through over the shifting, oscillating bassline and a driving drumbeat that launches the song forward. A tight line of synth carries an angular, spiky, dynamic melody with a minor key tinge to it. I am drawn to the feeling of adventure in this track as the choral synth voices cry out. The drums jump and shift, adding more shape and forward motion to the music.

The 8-bit notes scatter across the track as a slowly shimmering, chiming arpeggio floats in while the synth voices chant and the drums throb. Glowing notes flicker and the 8-bit sounds sweep through in waves. Metallic arpeggios glitter as a low, nasal sound comes in while the angular bassline adds form. Drifting, lost notes move above it all and the lead melody sings in again.

Conclusion

Colonizer paints a portrait of a young woman setting off to colonize the moon in the year 2121. It has a hopeful quality to it that conveys her excitement and wonder. I enjoy how Sonic Gap has approached the music, imbuing it with an earnest heart and a sense of adventure.

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