- Releasing roughly an album a year as Conforce, Boris Bunnik has created a tangible sense of momentum, and not solely through the frequency of his output. The Detroit-indebted meditations of Machine Conspiracy relaxed on Escapism, a loose album of successful flirtations with classic Dutch techno and brighter, upfront arrangements. Then Kinetic Image appeared like a foul mood swing, exposing sonic aggression and razor-sharp edges unified by melodic discord. Collectively, these three albums have all clustered around where Conforce's preoccupations—watery sound beds, precise micro-rhythms, analog-driven rawness, a pinch of introspective gloom, restrained yet workable DJ fare—intersect.
Presentism stands slightly off to the side of this arc. Bunnik's move from his island home on the Dutch coast to Rotterdam may be responsible for the softened Conforce aesthetic. "Blue Note" represents this sound at its most slyly confident, with a slightly disorienting core, faint synth exhalations, skittering drums and a gritty bottom end. It's a welcome contrast to "Realtime" and "Glideslope," which both ease into ambient waters void of any gripping chord progressions or expert mood manipulations.
"Artefact From A Higher Dimension" and "Erased Connections With The Past" restore the balance of ebb and flow. The former offers deep indigo shades of melancholy and delicate rhythms, and the latter leans on a shape-shifting low end which hints at acid forms and teases the more abrasive side of his palette. Despite descending into rich dub reverb on "Motion Sequence" and plunging further into the deep with "Ocean Lab," Presentism's second half hinges on "Time Space Continuum," "Monomorphic" and the sweetly literal "Hydrosphere." The cinematic ambience those tracks settle into feels undemanding and pleasantly content.
"Sequence of Subcult" stands out with excitable frequencies and haunted sound design, but it hovers in a skeletal state for the most part, disappearing before its full form is realized. "Predictive Flow" is worth its occasional lulls. Simple, lush and single-minded, it ends Presentism with emotional and physical impact.
Presentism feels a bit like an unexpected plot development. Conforce blurs the borders of his arrangements, rather than fixate on their micro-layers, resulting in a lack of weightiness. (On the other hand, Bunnik's new record as Vernon Felicity demonstrates he hasn't given over completely to gentleness.) Presentism's standouts won't have trouble appealing to Conforce admirers, yet it still feels more like a pause for breath than a logical progression.
03. Blue Note
04. Artefact From A Higher Dimension
05. Time Space Continuum
06. Erased Connections With The Past
07. Motion Sequence
08. Sequence Of Subcult
10. Ocean Lab
12. Predictive Flow