- As far as acid puns go, Placid is among the most unfortunate names given to an album. And the latest excursion into slow, sentimental 303 sequences from chameleonic Berliner Recondite lives up to its title all too well. These ten tracks carry the torch left by their spiritual predecessor, 2012's languid On Acid, but now the flame seems to have fizzled out. It's true that acid in the wrong hands can come off as gimmicky or trite, yet the genre's zippy sounds are imbued with wild, infectious energy by default. So Placid's central problem stems from the fact that once the dreary concept inevitably grows monotonous and, yes, placid, there's nary a satisfying squelch or quick-footed 808 for it to fall back on.
The techy stuff winds up the most disappointing. "Undulate" and "Poised" meander through polite rimshots, bass prods and tangles of yowling synth tones without ever figuring out how to make them all interesting. Likewise, "Subdue" teases lofty payoffs with its wide filter sweeps, but reneges on the excitement and reverts to its mid-tempo schlepp. Worse still is how it ends on a groovy drum machine shuffle that comes from out of nowhere—those last 20 seconds are far livelier than the preceding five minutes and sorely missed when they're gone.
From his quagmire of elongated, reverb-soaked 303 whines and cushy 4/4 patterns, Recondite pulls out a few keepers. He teams with Tale Of Us on "Sequenze," and together the trio conjures some depth and vitality with subtle percussion, the glow of distant pads and a remarkably sensitive touch. You could imagine Richard D. James fiddling with similar ideas in the early '90s. It's also a reminder of what helped make On Acid an interesting experiment three years ago: texture and variety. Placid doesn't value the finer details nearly as much as an album this monochrome should. With their low-swung rhythms and hooky melodies, "Pass Up" and "Placid" make smart use of Recondite's patient acid, but even the slightest trace of fresh, unfamiliar sounds would've made them really pop.
02. Pass Up
04. Sequenze feat. Tale Of Us