Synth EP Review: "Signs" by Charlie Vincent
Charlie Vincent’s Signs EP evokes feelings of openness and spacious energy, but it is a densely layered recording for all of that. The synths are varied and interweave seamlessly with each other along with all of the percussion, bass and the general soundscape of the EP. There is something starry about the music, the sense of a voyage through outer space pervades it.
The synth sounds are quite wide in their scope on Signs. There are sounds that seem reminiscent of bells, chimes and stringed instruments along with moments of piano sounds as well as more typical synth sounds that have the warm analog quality that draws me into this type of music so strongly.
I was also struck by the layers of sound on this EP. There’s an intricate interlocking of the synth sounds with pulses of bass, the drums and various other sonic elements that each provide threads that knit together into a cohesive sonic whole. Charlie Vincent keeps everything just on the right side of busy, so that the listener isn’t overwhelmed by the complexity. The effect is to give the ears lots of textures and nuances to work with.
The overall sensations given by Signs are ones that I enjoyed. There is a soaring sense of star exploration that made me feel as if I was being taken on a journey and I appreciate music that can do that for me. Charlie Vincent gave the EP a very clear set of images and that’s something I enjoy.
Track by Track Analysis
“Signs” combines dark bass that rises and falls hypnotically, arps that spin out in cosmic circles, warm and infused with light, climbing over that oscillating bass. The drums throb along with the beat and there’s an expanding, soaring lead synth melody that calls out energetically. I also enjoyed the drifting, flowing section that echoed out into space.
The most compelling part of “Circuits” for me was the main melody, gentle and tinged with sadness, as it moved over the shadowed pulses of irregular bass and the mid tempo beat that moves into the track. There’s a “B” section melody that is held up by climbing piano chords and a keyboard solo that jumps in and cascades through the track easily. Despite the touch of melancholy, there’s still forward motion and energy to this track.
“Taped Dreams” is the closest thing to classic synthwave on this EP with the drum sounds and patterns that are used. It’s also probably the most complex sounding track. There’s a mysterious sounding lead synth melody that glistens like starlight and it’s surrounded by metallic bell-like sounds, something that resembles a hang drum in aural quality and extended notes that flow through the track. All of these parts are interwoven into a complex whole.
Signs is an example of how beautiful, complicated and nuanced synth-based music can be. It’s far too short and I hope that in the future we get to hear lots more from Charlie Vincent because I think his music has quite a lot of potential to move in interesting directions going forward.