One thing needs to be made very clear: Gardland's jamming might qualify as rough, but it's anything but lo-fi. In fact, part of Syndrome Syndrome's appeal comes from its variety of textures, and how prominently they're presented. "One In None," one of the album's most lopsided grooves, is full of leads that splatter like they're being fed through a meat grinder. These textures stand out because Syndrome Syndrome is so resolutely monochrome—there's not even a hint of colour lurking at the edges, be it in the eerie melodies of "Ode To Ode" or the dubby techno of "Ride Wid Me." This might be on purpose, or it might be circumstance—the group lost a good deal of their gear (and the songs stored on them) halfway through the album's recording, forcing them to start from scratch.
As a result, there's a factory-fresh feel to much of Syndrome Syndrome, as if they tore the plastic off their new toys and immediately got down to business. And while we can't say exactly which songs are from when, it's fun to imagine that the slow rising action of the title track is the direct result of the two figuring out how to harness their new equipment, turning a roughshod tom-tom beat into a broken techno monster filled in with creaks and whines. The swampy thrum of "Trepan Heke," meanwhile, proves that they can get down and dirty, and conversely feels like the work of artists who know exactly how to force unhealthy sounds out of their studio.
With its stoic disposition, dystopian atmosphere and, of course, emphasis on hardware (apparently no computers were used in the production process), there are a lot of things about Syndrome Syndrome that are very of the moment, but it wouldn't be fair to call them trendy. When you scratch past the surface, it's a pretty singular LP, even if the aesthetics are familiar. They might be skeletal and drained of colour, but their tracks have an unpredictable, wandering spirit that makes them far more than listless jamming.