What a dream of an act to discover. Sound Syndrome aim high and more than hit the mark with this project.
Stylishly blending conceptual depth, a brilliant use of melodic soundscape development, and vocals that lean towards classic hip hop, a modern ASM, and occasionally Barenaked Ladies, the band offer blissful escapism, engaging rhythms, and fast-paced, endless bars – the likes of which captivate in a genuinely new and exciting way.
Sacrifice is all of this, a fine first track following the conceptual outline offered by Intro. The multiple vocal parts create a strong dynamic, the wordplay is bold, and the story-telling, scene-setting and clever lyricism in general is fascinating – it makes you keen not to miss a moment. Meanwhile, the dreamlike softness of the music helps keep you calm, your body swaying, as this intense outpouring of thought consumes your attention.
As the album goes on, Sound Syndrome prove all the more creative than even those opening moments could imply. Every track is a performance, a story. Often the music is somewhat minimal, yet perfectly on point – the simple riding bass-line of Thing Or Two, the classic, nostalgic rap verses that ooze confidence.
Artistic production continues to be a strength throughout. Been Strung tips its hat to the hip hop legends of the nineties, the vocal rhythm does too – the track offers a mighty hook that’s an easy anthem for contemporary listeners. The pace is addictive, and this is an easy personal favourite for how satisfying the flow is and how quickly likable the music and general groove are.
Fast bars shine brightly intermittently, never over done but balanced well with entertaining skits, sound bites and instrumentals. Famous Rappers showcases that breathless lyrical ability to a superb degree. Then Hide The Bodies switches things up, bass-leading and a varied flow adding a change in direction.
Then the topic gets a little heavier again. Mental Illness offers genuine insight and vulnerability that’s impossible to ignore – and important to connect with.
Far from simple showmen, Sound Syndrome write from a place of deep thought, authenticity, and natural ability combined. It’s no easy fete to lay out a few of the best bars from the whole album – the project is jam-packed with intelligent metaphors and compelling framing of long-form expressions.
During the latter half, a colourful soundscape and a touch of vocal melody from a featured artist helps On My Own really stand out. I’m reminded a little of Yelawolf’s Opie Taylor – an addictive riff, a strong groove. On My Way afterwards hits with a welcomed touch of intensity. That’s Life later on is another highlight for similar reasons of colour, rhythm and clever references alike.
Things get conceptually provocative towards the end as Internet Genocide takes our contemporary lifestyle by the throat and lays bare the detrimental nature of social media. Then there’s a powerful, beautiful moment of reflection and ambient escapism in the form of Transcend The Pain.
The level of eclecticism throughout the playlist is superb, Sound Syndrome really know how to keep the art of the album alive and well, and this project is a real joy to experience – and one you’re likely to find yourself revisiting over the coming months and years.