Synapscape - Decadenz


The double EP is a pretty rare format regardless of genre (if memory serves, the last such pair of releases we reviewed was featured on this site a decade ago almost to the week). An exercise in pure formatting, it points to something quite different from a double LP or the rare but still more common ‘half concept LP‘. It’s the sort of affair, then, that’s well suited to the boutique physical releases Ant-Zen still puts out from time to time despite shifting focus to digital releases several years ago, and who better than German duo Synapscape to do the honours, with a legacy stretching back to the very beginnings of the label’s 30-plus year history?

Catwalk Massacre, the first half of Dekadenz, is the more ‘traditional’ of the EPs, with clear links between its gabber-tinged beats and minimalist yet pummelling programming and the roots of the powernoise sound Synapscape helped create. Their recent dalliances with acid and other bass-focused subgenres are swapped out for far more staccato programming on tracks like “Haute Couture” and “Dress Code Red” which have more in common with gabber than anything else. Even more so than on the past few Synapscape records, Tim Kniep’s vocals are heavily focused upon in the mix, with the scraping distortion applied to them accentuating the raspy snap and timbre of individual syllables, even if they’re still somewhat difficult to make out (though as the titling implies, there’s a clear theme of one manifestation of decadence guiding it).

While the artistic extremity of haute couture (not to mention self-torture in the name of beauty) is an element of upper class culture we’ve seen skewered and taken up on many records beyond Catwalk Massacre, the focus of the second half of Dekadenz is something else entirely. Taking dressage as its theme (yes, that utterly uncanny horse prancing which has become synonymous with the incomprehensible and inbred tastes of the obscenely wealthy), Dressur‘s tracks are predominantly named after horses trained in the titular discipline. As if that wasn’t an odd enough concept, the second EP forgoes the classic powernoise punishment of Catwalk Massacre for the sake of wider experimentation, from the broken beat lope of “Gigolo FRH” to “Rembrandt”‘s pushing of Computer World-era Kraftwerk to the limits of technoid. What any of this might have to with with dressage in and of itself is a bit beyond me, so if any dressage aficionados can find links between the start-stop crawl and slink of “Farbenfroh” and the Olympic medal winning horse who was apparently “known for living on the edge of madness and genius“, please let us know in the comments.

Leaving aside whatever one cares to make of the themes uniting and distinguishing Catwalk Massacre and Dressur, the dual EPs format does a great job of freeing up Kniep and Philipp Münch to nimbly strike out in two quite distinct musical directions at once. Both EPs have their own sense of unity and work as standalone releases, and a full playthrough of both reminds one of what carved out Synapscape’s early rep as well as how much they might have left ahead of them. Hell, if the double EP thing feels a bit lopsided both halves could be put on shuffle…so long as one can handle the image of an Iberian gelding wearing Jean Paul Gaultier.

Buy it.