Current by Syntax


Syntax | Current
Kasuga Records (SD/DL)

The Berlin electronica label Kasuga shares a similar aesthetic, both musically and visually, with the likes of Raster-Noton.  Austere, minimal electronic sounds are packaged in equally stark graphic design.

Their in-house sound is one of reduction and glitched-out grooves, and Syntax’s new release is no exception.  Current is the new album by the Bucharest-based artist, the track titles of which make their theme more than apparent.  Titles such as “Volt”, “Phase” and “Ohm” wear their hearts firmly on their sleeves:  this is electronic music about electricity itself.

Syntax by Diana Dulgheru

The structure of each track relies on micro edits of sine waves and fuzzy signals.  Occasional lower frequencies break through, like on “Arc”, that lend the track a harder, more growling edge and give your speakers a good rumble.  This more adventurous approach to what are essentially basslines helps accentuate a funkiness that on other tracks comes off as a little overly clinical.

On “Dipole”, the beats take a more central position, their synthetic pulse approaching a hyper-gamelan speed. I liked how this escalated throughout the short duration of the track, spinning over the stereo field and creating a weirdly phased rhythm.

The bass is back on “Resilience”, those warm low frequencies punctuating a start-stop awkward groove and submarine pings.  There is a little more space between sounds here, something that benefits the track, until a wave of white noise rolls in and tugs at the constituent parts until the whole things unravels in squalls of static and distortion.

Final track “Source” introduces melodic qualities, something that had been missing from the preceding pieces.  It’s a welcome addition, adding modal plucks and spectral processing that breathes life into an otherwise dry, skeletal workout and a solid way to conclude the set.

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