Syncleft Chronem: an exhilarating set of intense, confrontational noise electronic dubstep soundscapes

Lybes Dimem, Syncleft Chronem, Germany, SVS Records, SVS012 vinyl (2018)

At once a music and visual project by German artist Lukas Rehm, Lybes Dimem uses digital sound design, complex beat structures and random error to create elaborate and immersive sound experiences that explore the spaces between and among layers of noise laid down. At the same time, familiar beat and melodic structures provide continuity and give form to the noise experiences. At least even the most abstract theories about the nature of music, sound and its interaction with space or not-sound eventually hit a limit as to what they can explore and extend, and come back to familiar concerns and restraints upon the music, not the least of which is whether the resulting sonic experiences have aesthetic appeal to listeners.

I’m happy to say that after hearing this album a few times, the tracks do indeed pack a surprising amount of emotional punch and have a very full-bodied sound. The album works extremely well as ambient mood instrumental music as it does as dance electronic dubstep, giving listeners a choice in experiencing the music as immersive or as dance music – or as a holistic combination involving both body and mind. It’s best heard in one hit to get the full immersive atmospheric effect as most tracks are short; in my opinion, some tracks like “Tachy” are too short and their full potential as entire sonic soundscape pieces seems unfulfilled. Indeed, there’s so much activity on each track that each and every one of them could have been an entire album in itself if Lybes Dimem had explored all the sonic possibilities in all of them.

The music on each piece can be intense and emotionally confronting, but it can also be very exhilarating and there is plenty of energy on most tracks. They’re all very different as well, the mood varying from one track to the next, and all of them suggesting futuristic dystopian worlds where carbon-based and silicon-based life-forms readily hybridise into multifarious legions of nightmarish cyborgs. Apart from one piece, “Nascent Tenet”, which is atypically subdued and low-key in presentation, there’s hardly any pause from all the abrasive tension and the confrontational attitude. After “Nascent Tenet”, a couple of later tracks seem a bit more distant and stand-offish and less aggressive. The one track that seems lumpen and unoriginal is the last one “Powerset”, where parts sound as if Rehm has run out of puff and has allowed the music to continue too long and as a result grows stodgy and pompously full of itself.

On the whole though this is an excellent debut recording that works as both an immersive listening experience and as a soundtrack for strange visual worlds or experimental dance. I’d like to think Lybes Dimem can continue in the direction of noisy electronic dubstep sound art as long as possible, as music of this type is not common, but that’s Rehm’s call to make.

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