Swim often challenges preconceptions of what sort of label it is by releasing albums outside its supposed remit. Recent offerings have moved the label from dance-oriented works to a more experimental stance. Symptoms continues this trend and is akin to a lo-fi film score made from home-made samples, fragile guitar loops and occasional beats, forming a kind of semi-continuous digital mosh.
Symptoms certainly isn't immediate and is easy to dismiss, but repeated listens bring gradual reward. Initially seeming a little messy and unfocussed, the level of composition and rhythm eventually becomes clear. The fragmented Burn begins the musical journey in fine style, gradually introducing distorted guitar riffs, relaxed background textures and overlaid fractured rhythms. Versus is also a classic, initially sounding like something out of the Silo catalogue before dramatically inserting some 'noise terror' over the top. Recurring Themes provides a relentless rumbling 'beat' and overlaid Dome-like industrial textures before retiring into breathy ambience, backed with occasional crunchy inserts. Revo presents the most atmospheric of the pieces: deep continuous chords, an engaging bass line and a hypnotic bass drum are joined by sporadic, coarse drum loops for the most filmic offering on the album.
The best is saved for last though; the intoxicating You provides another industrial guitar loop and counterpoints it with a couple of slight riffs that sound like they're coming from a musical box. Other textured loops from synth and guitar are then overlaid bringing an exquisite arrangement that sounds like an odd marriage between NIN, Jarre, and Hox. Bund finishes the album by utterly contrasting almost everything that has gone before—a distant bass drum is joined by three minutes of introspective instrumental.
Despite Ammitzboel's claims of inspiration coming from the musical mainstream, precious little of these influences are left intact on the album itself. Symptoms is more like a film score and benefits from Ammitzboel's attempts at combining noise and beauty without trying to do anything other than create a personal album that is geared towards no-one in particular and is both challenging and rewarding.
Craig Grannell (November, 1999)