Syntoma – Syntoma (EM, July 2015)

Who would have guessed it would have taken a figurative trip all the way to Osaka to finally shine a well-deserved torch on one of Mexico’s most idiosyncratic synthpop outfits? But in fact it’s the Japanese label EM Records that picks up the gauntlet of re-diffusing Syntoma’s gems from the 1981-1984. Irresistibly playful in the freshest, most fizzy of ways, Syntoma was the brainchild of Alex Eisenring, formerly of prog-jazz band El Queso Sagrado, who then went on to militate in influential Mexican bands such as Decibel and Escuadrón del Ritmo. The latter band and Syntoma were what was then defined as ‘techno’ or ‘techno-pop’ projects, guided by an unorthodox but knowledgeable use of synthesisers and drum machines, and performing songs about computers and robots.

Syntoma was enriched further by the technically knowing and vocally absurdist presence of Synthia Napalm, and this mesh of Napalm and Eisenring makes for quite a special listen. On “Mi Robot”, perhaps the sweetest performance on the record, the melancholy KR-55, Napalm’s unhinged female voice, and the grave male voice worrying about a robot’s health all combine for perfect futurist domestic melodrama. This release takes tracks from Syntoma’s only LP No Me Puedo Controlar and from their two 7″s, the material is beautifully remastered and reorganised over two sides, one for instrumentals (perhaps where most joy is to be found) and one for vocal tracks. Essential for anyone whose heart beats for absurdist Hispanic synth.

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