A Square Meal: ‘Insert Disk 02’ by Game Genie Sokolov

Originally Posted on the ChipWIN Blog on February 12th, 2019
Edited by Adam Seats.

Since the beginning, humanity has had some epic arguments about just the most important, finest and serious topics: why are we here? Good or evil? Should the pizza be topped with pineapple? And of course: does Sega really do what NintenDoesn’t? Well, I won’t intend nor dare to give an answer to any of the previously mentioned questions (especially to the last one); but if you are up for some quality FM Chiptune, today’s article is going to completely blow your mind.

From all the options we have to listen and appreciate chiptune nowadays, it’s always nice to find some first-rate music made specifically to be played on a Sega Genesis. That’s why when I knew that there was a Montreal artist who makes it, I got myself ready for an incredible experience. Of course I’m talking about Game Genie Sokolov. Maybe you remember GG Sokolov’s tremendous work from ‘Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 5’, ‘Deskpop & ChipWIN’ or ‘FM: Possible 2‘; but this time we’ll talk about this new and super awe-inspiring album: ‘Insert Disk 02’ released through the French Canadian netlabel Lisbon Lux Records. So let’s take a look over it… Sega style!

What a fresh and interesting way to start an album. Panning white noise is the prelude of a short piece. A tiny and a little unstable melody bounces over open chords to make an introduction to quickly change to a marked, fast melody that strikes to the listener and put the energy over the top.

This track is the perfect opening for an album, because it makes you think of the tracks to come; and it’s a delightful wondering.

I’m not an expert, but this track is what most people expect when we talk about FM synthesis. It has a really mystifying beginning with just a bass and drum samples, but then, slowly, more elements are added to enlighten the ambience.

Maybe I’m over thinking it, but for me this track was like walk over a path in almost complete darkness, and the more you walk the more light you can find. And in the uncertainty of the scenario you can listen to a voice that is taking care of you and every now and then speaks to you: “slow down” “watch your step”  “take this way”. All this until you get to the end of the road and find your way out of there. Is then when you ask yourself about the voice, but, in the end, there’s nothing but you.

Have you ever dreamt you were in the center of a dense forest in the middle of a dark cold night with no more light than the one that hardly gets down through the branches of the trees; with the chilly wind touching your cheeks and mussing your hair, and no more company that the gentle sound of crickets and the wind hitting the branches when, out of nowhere, a weird figure emerges and starts walking between the trees getting away and you start to follow it just to find yourself lost in the woods and then you wake up a little bit distressed at four and something in the morning just to realize that you left your earphones plugged (again) and this track is playing? No? It’s just me?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this track is a perfect example of how GG Sokolov can perfectly establish a mood and take it to its deepest instances. Seriously, it’s really easy to get lost in this track. The sound design is absorbing and the details with the guitar near the end, man, the experience really left me speechless.

One of my favorite things about the YM2612 is its versatility. You can go down straight from a gloomy/mysterious mood to a sparkly upbeat one in a blink and get everything flowing smoothly. Like this track. The way the bass bounces around is almost hypnotic, then you just have to add some chords for depth and that distinguishing futuristic sound, a simple, yet straight to the point, melody, and a sound design that undoubtedly will make you think of all the hours you spent with the controller on your hands. The result will be a punch in the feels because, for the ones (like me) that were not lucky enough to have memories of those days, this is what (I imagine) 90s sounded like. This track is a love letter to all the title screens of history.

All right, how about a chill sunset on your favorite vision of a cyberpunk near future? I mean, I imagine myself at the top of a building with the sun about to fall and sketchting those wonderful pink to orange tonalities over a profound blue sky while I look down to the city and maybe lighting a cigarette. With the deafening sound of helices and sirens; and while I try to not to think of the past, I suddenly forget about everything.
And that’s just with the first twenty five seconds. The rest of the track is not different: a beautifully composed piece that invites you to leave reality only for a moment. The pads that sound like a choir make the track more rounded and thoughtful without mention the contrast that is provided by the square instruments.

You know what people say; paint a picture using solely music is hard, mostly because music is not paint. But in all seriousness; this my favorite track from the album for a lot of reasons, maybe the most important is that it really made felt something deep down.

Imagine this: you are in a space ship, which is about to be destroyed. You and your friends/colleagues have to find the way to get out from there before it’s too late. Then you remember it; the escape pod! You make your way through the ship without knowing how much time you have left, with all the nervous that this implies. After running for a while you make it right on time just to find that there’s not enough sits, so you get creative and at the end of the day everyone stays safe and alive.

This piece of music is a vivid example of all the potential of the author, which by itself is just stunning. The whole album is an experience that I’m really sure you will enjoy from start to finish.

Well, that’s all for today. I don’t want to go without saying that, even when this is my second album review, I really dug and enjoyed this one, so please go and support GG Sokolov!

Thank you for sticking around one more time with me! See you soon!

Game Genie Sokolov
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