Space, truly the final frontier, or is it? Perhaps it is the expanses within the human mind.
I’m not sure, but maybe Syntax does.
His latest release, the album ‘Transmissions’ out now via 30th Floor Records seeks to answer this question and so many more. Through the use of delay, reverb and some interesting bits of synthesis, Syntax manages to manipulate the stereo field into some truly transporting arrangements. If you’re the right person, in the right state of mind, this music can make you feel like you’re lost in some kind of digital minefield of the future.
Early standout “Parsec” reminds one of a Boards of Canada segue in its opening seconds before it turns into an uptempo dance track of sorts. It’s a unique bit of production, which I thoroughly appreciate.
“Lillium” a collaborative track with Droid Bishop is a momentous half time track that calls to mind Com Truise, especially in the stop and start bass work, which over the course of the song continues to elaborate on itself, filling in the gaps and unfurling into some beautiful, if startling phrases.
Luckily for us Syntax doesn’t seem too concerned with making us wait as we listen to ‘Transmissions’. The album moves at its own pace and waits for you to come to it. Case in point, mid album piece “Tangents” shows a talent for film soundtracks that I personally would like to see explored more in the future.
This album seems to be defined by its crystalline, almost bell like synth tones, hard panned and soaked in delay for good measure. Perhaps the word “dreamy” is overused, but how else is one supposed to describe Syntax’s music. Ethereal? All that is of course ignoring the fried bass tones, and solid and present percussion right under the surface, at times reminiscent of Mythical Vigilante, and at others Aphex Twin.
About half way through we get “Stratus”, another collaboration, this time with a personal favorite of mine, HOME. And the addition of this song is appreciated, we get a few new sounds from HOME and a totally signature vibe in the drum department. To me it sounds like a 90’s hip hop producer having fun in the studio between rap sessions. This may be my favorite ‘Transmissions’ cut.
Syntax is a more than capable writer and producer, but he really seems to shine when working with others, this is most evident when listening to his collaboration with Starforce, on the title track. An absorbent bass sound, some twinkling arpeggios and an amazing, brassy lead, which reminds one of Pink Floyd circa 1975, minimalistic but so, so effective.
“Polarius” is an awesome song, which bends into some remarkably effective chord changes. It sits on a stuttering beat that never finds its way to the familiar kick snare pattern you’d expect, and the song is better for it.
This is an incredibly varied effort, each piece obviously fits the whole, this album is cohesive in terms of production and tone, but where some artists may have gotten bogged down, Syntax takes us for a ride instead. And that ride has many twists and turns, it has many great views, but they’re all tinted by the same windshield. “Vermillion” for instance has enough tremolo to make Spacemen 3 jealous, which brings me to my final point. Syntax obviously is a producer unafraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. References to Kraftwerk and the drones of Krautrock in general abound, but then again so do the occasional nods to Warp Records’ IDM as well, and it doesn’t stop there, John Carpenter, Ultravox and the tamer side of acid-house all come to mind at different times. Sequenced for a full album listen, ‘Transmissions’ is demanding, across 17 tracks Syntax leaves no prisoners in his own gentle way, thankfully the collaborative tracks are deployed thoughtfully and sparingly for maximum effect.
This album is exploratory in its outlook on the modern synth scene, unconcerned with being different, uncommitted to a style, but still effortlessly its own.
and check out more Syntax music at:
-Patrick Keller, Wave TV
Patrick Keller is a contributor and founding member of Wave TV and an admin of The Wave Cave Facebook group. He also makes music under the name Red Comet 3, which can be found on Bandcamp Soundcloudand Facebook. His last album ‘Hexagon Computer Vision Technologies’ is available from Ghostspace Records on Bandcamp.