Syndrome is the side project of Mathieu Vandekerckhove of Amenra, who is about to release his third full-length, following Floating Veins and Now and Forever. Thematically, the album follows the concept of Now and Forever, but with a switch of perspective. Where Now and Forever was a dialogue before a father and his son, Forever and a Day depicts the conversation between a son and his father. This connection is also depicted in the artwork of the record, which features a sculpture that Vandekerckhove’s father created.
Apart from the theme of the record, Syndrome also carries down the same road that Now and Forever paved. Caught between post-rock and ambient sounds, the record begins a great introspective journey through the artist’s vision. The mesmerizing melodies guide most of this work, with not so much the usual ethereal, post-rock mentality, but with a more earthy tonality. More immediate in their approach, they are used to a great extent in order to get a highly emotional vibe out of the record, something that is highlighted in the cleaner parts.
Label: Consouling Sounds
Through this single more half an hour track, Vandekerckhove takes advantage of repetitive patterns, acting as an instrumental narrative. This aspect is further enhanced by the use of effects, as Syndrome switches skillfully between the expansive, open post-rock sound, to a more introspective and ambient scenery. The album features a minimal settings, where the motto “less is more” holds true. Percussive elements make brief appearances, allowing a shamanistic attribute to arise, tying in perfectly with the more atmospheric moments.
Photograph by Benetto Manzella
And there are times when Vandekerckhove takes the full plunge into the ambient soundscape, when the instrumentation goes out of the window and the track is reduced to the processing of effects. Coming in as a storm at times, furious and uncompromising as a big wall of sound, or taking a subtle approach, minimally constructing the ambiance for what there is to follow. It is the dynamics that make all this process work, with Vandekerckhove depicting an ease in transitioning between the different parts. From the ambient moments he crosses to post-rock territories, the deep vocals are replaced by ethereal structures, and effects swoop in to clear the palette clean for the process to start again. It would all have failed if Vandekerckhove did not have this aptitude in setting up his tracks.