CAT #: RVNGNL23
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Syndrome Syndrome is Gardland’s debut full-length album. Its timely release captures the fever pitch of Gardland’s off-kilter electronic music at the tail end of the group’s first year.
Assertive, though “elegantly wasted,” as they describe it, Gardland is the laboriously cracked energy exchange of Alex Murray and Mark Smith. The duo solidified the young partnership during a psychedelic desert excursion far from their urban dwellings in Sydney, Australia. Over a ten-day stretch, Murray and Smith recorded hardware based wigouts with neither boundary nor fear of judgment from the godheads that loomed ominously over the lysergic liturgy.
Gardland shared a swathe of this desert delirium as the first release via their newly formed Hunter Gatherers label. With this gesture, they posed a new paradigm for Sydney’s sometimes-static social-musical consciousness by delivering uncompromising electronic music rife with rigor and real-deal feel.
Syndrome Syndrome was written and recorded in a small room over a series of slavishly inspired sessions. Living within earshot of each other, Murray and Smith bucked the unconventional confab this comfort allows in favor of a workingman’s deftness. In the middle of this process, Gardland’s primary synthesizers were stolen at a gig. Impervious and industrious, the blank slate catalyzed their creative flow instead of stunting it, eventually filling to the frame with the eleven uneasy pieces of Syndrome Syndrome.
If linearity in techno / house is the convention, Syndrome Syndrome avoids flat-lining in its spiral and fractal formations. The beats here don’t “drop”, they appear erratically in uncertain quantum logic. The harmonic architecture forms cavernous canopies in place of metronomic melodies, while the convulsive human hand lays tonal tile that may or may not crumble on contact.
“Nothing But Not Zero” is a lunatic’s altar in the volatile temple of Syndrome Syndrome. An overdriven percussive pattern pitched to the tenor bass of a steel pan drum distorts and sputters as if it were transmitted by a decaying satellite. The dual voices that drift the forlorn track ultimately cohere as Smith and Murray tradeoff activating phantom tones and re-animating beats that have slipped into other dimensions.
The rhythmic thrust of Syndrome Syndrome is nowhere more provocative than in “Magicville.” Its warped bass signals and sonic strobes of orange and sepia forge a pulsing dark funk. Title track “Syndrome Syndrome” melds organic and mechanized tones, highlighting a paradoxical unity, while the same dichotomy of human / inhuman, presence / absence gives “Katarakt” and “Hell Flur” their deranged power.
Perhaps the most revelatory aspect to Murray and Smith’s desert quest was their willing submission to co-exist with disorder — to have and to stranglehold for better or for worse. That transcendence only explains the psychosomatic palettes of Syndrome Syndrome though. The distinct other-ness of Gardland’s reach succeeds by laying waste to compositional cliché, by mining the full contour and imperfections of electronic music shapes, and by allowing ghost narratives back into aperture to cause chaos and a spot of fun.
Gardland’s Syndrome Syndrome is available now as a limited edition 2xLP, CD and digitally via RVNG Intl.