This is a genuinely weird little find: an Italian transistor organ with built-in rhythms and a wonderfully future-retro styling. It's made by a company called GIS (no, us neither) and it's called the Skyline. The innards comprise a three-voice transistor organ with Flute, String and Oboe patches – which can be combined to form seven sounds in all – plus a neat little preset rhythm section, with a thick analogue sound not too far from early Korg units. The rhythms are also combinable (if you lean on the buttons) which can make for some great, slightly mad, combos (Latin Waltz Tango, anyone?). All the sounds come piped out of an internal amp and speaker assembly which adds a great mellow warmth to the transistor tone. The whole thing is wrapped up in a matte black console with bevelled edges, on a column stand attached to a plinth, which makes it look like it's been salvaged from the command deck of an early nuclear sub.
Now let's talk about the sounds themselves. To our ears these were quite a surprise: the Oboe is rough-edged and raucous, but the Strings and Flute patches are rounded and thickly sweet. The combos are even better, making for complex waveforms with a very distinctive character – again, there's a quite delicate quality to the higher registers that makes for very airy pad sounds. Something particularly alchemical seems to happen when you put all three buttons in for the Flute + Strings + Oboe combo: a very rich and satisfying pad sound emerges which has a sweet, evocative edge unlike what you'd expect from a transistor machine. It quickly became clear to us that the only way to capture this vibe was to sample the combo patches along with the basic patches (rather than using layers of the basic patches to recreate the combos in Kontakt). It was really worth the extra effort: the four combos (Flute + Strings, Strings + Oboe, Flute + Oboe and All Buttons In) are, to our ears, the cream of the Skyline crop. Check out the audio demos to see what we mean here!