Disconnection is a potent theme in this anti-utopian dance music, whether it's physical distance, social anxiety or existential pain. "I am no longer following the concept of empathy," runs throughout the dissonant synths of "Outbreak." Lyrics like "Who owns my connection to you?" from "Connection," suggest emotional turmoil and incongruity, but with the mechanized, industrial beats percolating throughout the album, it wouldn't be a stretch to look at it as a statement about privacy in the internet age.
The music is industrial, but not in the genre sense. It's literally mechanical, filled with small clicks, breaking glass, the hiss of gaseous exhaust and the static and shrill beeps of a carrier signal. It's too expertly sculpted and layered to be called merely cold, though. Like AGF's work with Ellen Allien on Sool and her own Dance Floor Drachen, there's a sense of echoing space on Symptoms. Sound dissipates and decays into a vacuum.
That Symptoms moves at a noticeably quicker march forward than the duo's previous and more mellow album, Explode, only heightens the anxiety. It's when the group is at its most urgent, like opener "Get Lost," that they draw the most out of this dark template. Slower songs, like "Second Life," tend to drag and highlight a limited vocal range. Or maybe the message just makes more sense with a bit more passion and anger behind it.