synnack – v2.5

synnack - v2.5

FLAC/MP3, Force Of Nature Productions, 2010
www.synnack.com

I first came across Clint Sand’s work over ten years ago when he was part of EBM duo Cut.Rate.Box and, via a common acquaintance, I got the idea that he was very driven to experimenting with the possibilities of available tools. “v2”, the first synnack album I had access to, found him exploring new sound territories and, despite some failings, showed some real promise. The new synnack release, “v2.5” sees the barriers being pushed even further, not only stylistically but also technically, experimenting with modular analog synths. Reading the ‘making of’ of this album is recommended – the historical and technical details do not take away from the listening experience and actually prove quite insightful.
Admittedly, I (and a few others) found “v2.5” a very tough nut to crack as one of those albums that, upon first listen, one immediately knows is excellent but can’t really explain why. Production-wise it seems pristine, but aesthetically it’s rather difficult to categorize, shifting as it does between ambient drones, glitched ambient and the occasional more conventional composition (not forgetting a surprising sampled guitar element in “initial S (memory)”). On occasion, listening to “v2.5” almost feels like tuning an FM receiver in the middle of the night: even if revisiting ‘familiar’ areas of the FM spectrum you never know what you will find or how it will shift. However, to make matters ‘worse’, someone other than you (and more knowledgeable as well) is in control of the dial.
If there is one word to define “v2.5” it would be ‘experimental’. Granted, an overused word, more often than not applied as a blanket term for random layerings of sound and other distorted mish-mash, but that is hardly the case here. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sand’s approach to sound creation as synnack in this album seems to be extremely methodical – from material used to sound sources and their manipulation – and there’s a feeling that everything is studied in detail before each composition session which, given Sand’s methodology, made it so that each track was ultimately a live improvisation. Proof of Sand’s talent is that, in spite of this ‘improvisational’ character, “v2.5” flows so remarkably well and makes one wonder what synnack performing live on stage may sound like (awesome, according to some acquaintances that have seen it).
If I have one complaint about “v2.5”, it is that there isn’t a CD edition (and let’s not forget that the the MP3 version is available for free here). Granted that FLAC is a lossless format and perhaps also less limiting than CD but, with FLAC, many will certainly not be playing “v2.5” in good or high-end stereo – it will certainly be consigned to PC speakers for the smashing majority of listeners. A shame, given how good it is.

[9/10]

— Miguel de Sousa