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Nonstop flight in the elevator

Kaspars Zaviļeiskis

Review of the «S&T Syndicate» album «Elevator Music 2.1»

The debut album of the «S&T Syndicate» band called «Interaction» filled the five-year plan of the band, so Rihards Vāvere and Mārtiņš Jurjāns had to come up with the new one. They called the operator, but he appeared to be busy.

And good for them, because then the music began. And not exactly the one that we all are used to. And not exactly the one that usually plays in elevators, so they called it version 2.1. So the «Squirrel and Turtle Syndicate» took the brave vector towards funk and jazz fusion, post-rock, and even ambient electronics. This actually got them a more powerful and musically wide version of their first album, «Interaction», nominated for the Latvian annual music award, «Zelta Mikrofons», nomination in the jazz category.

The listener can listen to the album on the answering machine (+371 67473067) and on music streaming services and live shows. This music, unfortunately, isn’t planned for a release in the CD or vinyl format, so you have to choose one of the aforementioned options. And the live gigs, of course, win because the «syndicate» keeps on experimenting and hosts free music parties, with the new band bass guitarist Kaspars Lastovskis being a special star. Coming from the band «Sigma», he also became a spokesperson for «S&T Syndicate», but even apart from that, he plays precise, grooving, and well-noticeable bass with a solid personality.

Vāvere keeps on touring and easily changing structures of different rhythms, Jurjāns isn’t shy enough to make his keyboards create new sounds all the time, Nauris Kolmanis constantly reminds us that the band also has a saxophone, guitarist Roberts Gromovs (and Ernests Rasa in the recording) keep up with him, and this parade is convincingly concluded b rhythm guitarist Roberts Balodis.

13 years later, «Squirrel & Turtle» sounds better than ever. One can expect absolutely different musical twists, jokes, seriousness, no-lyric poetry, and couple-minute novels from this band. One of the most colorful pieces of the new elevator music is a charmingly stuttering clown march, «Riot of the Clowns», where everyone involved tries to survive. Mister saxophonist, most of all. Meanwhile, the guitar player gets a chance to play freely in a Bossanova mood that seemingly comes out of nowhere, just to break upon the listener’s head in the shouting clown parade behind the mirror in the end.
All of it shakes the listener well enough because, before that, it’s absolutely possible to get yourself lulled in the cosmic waltz called «Space Waltz». The album begins with a full-of-drive long-distance fusion sprint, «5:18 AM», to be continued with an unsteady railway track, «Afternoon Train», where both guitarist and saxophonist get all the time in the world.

All the «S&T Syndicate»’s love for post-rock shines bright in the «Get Me Through» composition that could as well be a part of the Scottish style masters album «Mogwai», while the Turtle’s keys chemistry lesson’s time is «Smuggling Happiness», where smuggling your good old happiness is absolutely present. The album’s happiest listeners are probably the lovers of broken beat electronics because this one sounds like a distant relative of «The Chemical Brothers» family.

Slow resolving, actually resembling floods, can be heard in the apocalyptic «The Only Place After the Flood», while one of the biggest challenges for one’s mind and feelings is the last composition of this album, «Time Keeper», that brings the listener to a nonstop journey in the elevator of different speeds, just to fly out in space just as the elevator from Roald Dahl’s book «Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator».

«S&T Syndicate» continues traveling up because they’ve already been down there, and it’s not that interesting both for musicians and for their constantly growing fan base. Electric jazz bands both in foggy Great Britain and beyond nowadays like offering maximally agitating beats and riffs. «Syndicate» also tries to keep up, although it’s different with its clear melodies that, together with rhythm changes, offer bigger sonic diversity.

They’ve already created their musical bike version 2.1 and are ready to work on 2.2. This band already has its signature font — not exactly unique, but theirs, and very promising in the nearest future.