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syndrome z

 

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Syndrome Z represents the Berlin based independent music label launched in 2010.

A new label is probably the last thing that electronic music needs right now, but seeing as it's a project run by Horizontal Ground's Szare, it's safe to say that it will be of greater interest than the average digital-only imprint. Judging on this first outing, it appears to be an outlet for the mysterious producer's more laid back work. The intro of "Medeleev" sees liquid sound effects, like a flowing river, morph into doomy dronescapes. Gradually, a half-heard vocal weaves its way to the foreground, becoming more distinct. While this atmospheric journey is taking place, Szare underpins it with a resonating, dubby bassline that eventually leads to a dreamlike outro. It's quite different to his tracky work for Horizontal Ground, but the same attention to detail and intricate approach applies.

The other contributor to this debut release is also worth paying attention to. Just 17 years old, Alex Coulton has made a track that many producers twice his age would struggle to create. Like Szare, Coulton favours a laid back approach on "Baraki," but thanks to the use of tough claps, brittle snares and some subtle filtering, it retains dance floor resonance.

The second release on Szare's Syndrome Z Imprint sees the producer adopting a slightly softer sound, less dominated by the bassy thud of toppling kicks and leaving more room for a spacious midrange.

With its polished granite textures and carefully padded thump, "Reach" is a dead ringer for the kind of lucid, flowing techno proffered by the earliest Ostgut releases, recalling the Klock & Dettmann "Scenario" collaboration or the latter's "Quicksand" especially. It's a slightly gentler but no less effective sound, nudged along by pulsating chords that keep it constantly on the verge of climax.

Shifted moves back into his comfort zone with the bulldozing "Subject Matter," which tenaciously chips debris off its uneven surface, recalling a subtler version of the industrial self-destruction of Tommy Four Seven's recent work. It's loud, it's a little abrasive and highly accessible, enough to make all of my previous issues with the Shifted project a distant memory. While it still sounds like he's working firmly within the realm of his influences, with production values and sensibilities like these, there's hope yet for something more unique to emerge from behind those ominous shadows.

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