The debut album from Australian duo Gardland is colourless in a manner similar to its album sleeve. The greys, blacks and whites of Syndrome Syndrome's cover serve as an accurate depiction of the record's content. 'Colourless' doesn't mean 'boring', of course; it lends itself to the intense, dystopian world in which the record resides. For a duo who pride themselves on creating 'improvisational techno', their sound is a lot tighter than one would think.

Simple repetition and rigidity of structure are not things that Alex Murray and Mark Smith feel that they can work with. Where other artists of this genre will sometimes find what they know and stick to it, the same cannot be said for Gardland, whose first full-length offering opens with the sound of murky, oppressive synths and a haunting background buzz. 'Grrone' is so innocuous a curtain-raiser that the album's title track follows it with all the ferocity of a full-on punch to the face.

It is in that track's busy, interlocking rhythms and arpeggiating melody that the record finds a home, establishing its base and giving the impression that it has a very clear idea of what it wants to achieve - something that's given further weight by the fact that no computers were allowed anywhere near the production process. This is hardware-only territory, and this approach has helped to create a purity of sound that disorients one moment and dazzles the next. Penultimate track 'Nothing But Not Zero' and 'Ode to Ode' - the latter of which forms the record's restless centrepiece - are two sides of the same coin, their skeletal melodies and prioritisation of space over sound displaying Gardland's modus operandi in all its splendour. Current single 'Magicville' is there and gone in 4-and-a-half minutes, but accomplishes enough in that running time to convince the listener that it's hung around for much longer; its slow-building style and impressive payoff - the beat drops out for all of two bars, but its re-entry has a cataclysmic impact - ensure that it has the desired effect.

The album may initially appear to exist in and of itself, a singularity of vision shielding it from outside influence, but hints of a different world creep in from time to time, as evinced by the sub-bass throb and dub feel of 'Ride Wid Me'; 'Trepan Hake' relies on an almost tangible feeling of creeping menace, never letting up and seeming to grow progressively more intense as it goes on, before fading away amidst crackling static. The record's structured in such a way that the moments which lack respite are perfectly placed, offsetting the (slightly) lighter mood created by more melodic moments like closer 'Hell Flur' to create a full-on listening experience. There's no doubt that Syndrome Syndrome works best when digested from start to finish; it's a record that's powerful while rarely tipping over into outright ferocity, which makes its darkness all the more unnerving.