A cult band in their native Germany and even more obscure to the rest of the world, S.Y.P.H. are akin to Blurt, the Fall, Wire, the Plastic People of the Universe, and other long-running acts who influence rock from its very fringes. Formed in the city of Solingen in 1977 by Peter "Harry Bag" Braatz, Uwe Jahnke, and Thomas Schwebel, the band's name wasn't originally an acronym. It was soon changed and supposedly stood for "Smashed Yankee Pummels Homo," although different explanations would be given through the years. In 1979 their debut single, "Viel Feind, Viel Her," appeared and was followed a year later by the full-length S.Y.P.H. (Hello to the Mipau). The experimental edge displayed on their punkish debut would be explored further on their second album of 1980, PST, which was produced by Can member Holger Czukay. After Schwebel left to join Die Fehlfarben, the band appeared on Czukay's album On the Way to the Peak of Normal before falling apart.
The year 1981 would still see a flurry of releases as Braatz unloaded the vaults and issued two albums of unheard material plus one live collection. Braatz and Jahnke re-formed the band in 1982 and released Harbeitslose, an album filled with sprawling, free-form pieces and post-punk songs. They split again soon after its release, only to re-form in 1985 for the surprisingly accessible, synthesizer-based album Wieleicht. Just two years later the band did a complete turnaround with the guitar-driven Am Rhein, a brittle effort that closed with a nearly 16-minute avant-reggae song. After a quiet period they reappeared in 1993 with Rot, Geld, Blau, then immediately announced another breakup. This one would last until 2004, when Braatz and Jahnke returned with an appearance on the Fall tribute album Perverted by Mark E. The full-length -1 followed in 2006 along with an appearance on the tribute album Silver Monk Time: A Tribute to the Monks. Somewhat representative of the band's evolution away from punk, S.Y.P.H. now stood for "Save Your Pretty Hearts." ~ David Jeffries