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Project: Semiotic (Symbion Project)

Crooker is based out of Seattle, WA, after putting in many years on
the east coast, including a stint as one of the founding members of
the synth-pop trio Freezepop. Having left Freezepop a few years ago
and then relocated to the west coast, Crooker has focused once more
on his ongoing solo endeavors as Symbion Project. Symbion Project
focuses on instrumental arrangements, often mid-tempo with detailed
downtempo grooves that split the difference between IDM and heavier
handed dubstep and EDM variants, though without many of the negative
associations those tags might bring to the table these days.
Crooker’s experience producing and creating game soundtracks and
environments comes through fully across most of these tracks, with
highly synthesized arrangements that feel pristine. In this sense
many of Semiotic’s tracks feel insular, like they are each a part of
a world that is otherwise isolated from trends and pop tendencies.

Semiotic by Symbion Project

“Root” is a strong opener with its Alan Wilder-esque arrangement
and crisp, strong snares, mirrored in other strong tracks such as
“Phenomena” (which shares some of the same urgent pattern-making
in its synths) and “Concept,” one of my favorites with its jaunty
hook and crunchy rhythm tracks. What’s perhaps most noteworthy about
Semiotic is its general unwillingness to throw down conventional
dancefloor jams, and instead the music only occasionally indulges the
impulse, like on the second half of “Impulse” which has a nice
electric grind to it, with a little nod to the melodic hook of
“Matter” which precedes it. “Spirit” also has a fidgety
nervousness to it, but about halfway through the tempo plummets to a
crawl before slowly gaining steam back to its original clip. This
push and pull between more midtempo grooves and faster dancefloor
nods is actually a key to Semiotic’s success; I think given his sonic
palette and sensibility, having a wide variety of speeds and energy
levels here makes for a far more varied listen than were it simply 10
tracks of 130bpm cuts. Fans of clean, melodic IDM and techno will
likely enjoy Symbion Project’s sound, borrowing from an array of
reference points without much concern for belonging to any one of
them. Instead, Semiotic shows off Crooker’s talents for synthesis,
syncopation, variety, and detail.

Buy it: Bandcamp