Ghostly International's latest signing Syntaks - Danish visual artist/designer Jakob Skott and vocalist Anna Cecilia - have just released the synesthesia-inducing album Ylajali and the lush music video above for our favorite Ann Arbor/NYC/LA-based label.
The richly layered waves of organic and processed sound and phantasmal voices make me want to compare Syntaks to Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra's work as Lovesliescrushing, or a number of acts on 4AD. But Syntaks bring a presence all their own to the shoegazey dream pop party, and make some of the finest, most captivating autumn music you'll find anywhere.
Syntaks take their cues from the ambient experiments of Brian Eno and Popol Vuh, the film scores of Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter, and the tonal depth of ‘90s shoegaze bands and early 4AD records. Each sound—from the tinkling of a piano to the snap of a snare drum—has been electronically treated, conjuring an air of unreality that belies the music’s organic construction. Syntaks’ newest record on Ghostly International, 2009’s Ylajali, is a romantic fever dream, a post-rock paean to the transportative, transformative power of sound. Syntaks wraps the couple up like a shroud, absorbing their identities in the pursuit of a heart-stoppingly beautiful vision.
In Ylajali’s beautifully scorched sonic landscape, acres of drones run beneath Anna Cecilia’s wordless sighs; beats crunch like autumn leaves while synthesizers swell, flourish, and disappear. Songs either tramp through hazy forests until they fade into the dark (the Boards of Canada-esque “Love Camp 23”), or stack tone upon tone like translucent building blocks, building to forceful, near-operatic crescendos (the epic “She Moves in Colors”). Syntaks’ Jakob Skott is a drummer by trade, and his percussion—both live and programmed, but always lent an otherworldly sheen—plays the sinister counterpoint to Cecelia’s tender melodies. “The Shape of Things to Come” typifies Syntaks’ dreamlike musical logic, drifting through fields of placid melody until sheets of guitar noise, metallic snares, and choir-like vocals rush in. Once the storm passes, all that’s left is the sun, glinting through the mist.