Singapore’s foremost beats and visual culture collective Syndicate, noted for its collaborations with LA’s Brainfeeder crew, has been working the ground for quite some time, hosting a two-year long run at Home Club and embarking soon on a new series The Syndicate Subsessions at the Substation. For a group of such (yet growing) stature, it’s surprising how little has been put out on record. Apart from a five track self-titled EP released at the end of 2010, the collective has been focusing its energies on its live shows, collaborations, and putting mixes up online.
In that sense, Syndicate’s output is hard to collate meaningfully, and perhaps it isn’t meant to be, since it’s more of the experience than the product that matters here. Yet it can be quite fun putting things together, as I have been trying for Max Lane, one of the collective’s members. Recordings under his name have been scanty and may be traced largely to his self-released debut EP The MIM Project (2009) and some contributions scattered across various compilations; but there’s such a cohesive vision in all his works, that haunting exploration of his cultural past channeled through the dual lenses of nostalgia and futurism as most fully realised in “Wohub”, his opening track for The Syndicate EP.
However, it’s most fascinating chancing upon works-in-progress, as I found in his contribution last year to the Urban Waves beats compilation. Titled “Maghrib”, the track seems like fleeting vignette or lost soundtrack from a film never made, a prayer uttered but left hanging, perhaps intentionally and adding to its mystical appeal. It could go anywhere from here, and some things are best left that way: we can probably extend that sentiment to Syndicate itself, which seems to keep growing precisely because of its commitment to ongoing experimentation that keeps (us) looking forward. - Dan.
The first Syndicate Subsessions takes place on 24 March (Saturday) 8pm at the Substation, 45 Armenian Street, Singapore, featuring Gema and Muon, with visuals by Brandon Tay and Rafi Dean. Check here for more details.