- Too much of the same? Or a deeper exploration of a signature sound? However you feel about Recondite, this album won't change your opinion.
- It doesn't feel right to use a word like "tension" in relation to Recondite, a name associated with some of the most gentle and reflective dance music ever recorded. But there's not really another way of putting it. Here we have an artist, real name Lorenz Brunner, who is, on the one hand, incredibly well-liked. He's a live act who's probably playing around 100 times a year, releases regularly on scene-defining labels like Ghostly, Hotflush, Innervisions and Dystopian, and has developed an instantly recognisable core sound. It's a style that's melancholy to its bones, most often delivered as gentle house or more upbeat techno, but also via acid and, on at least one occasion, neoclassical. Say "Recondite" to anyone who knows his work and a clear sonic picture will immediately spring to mind.
However, it's the sheer definition of that sound that, rightly or wrongly, makes him a turn-off to music critics. Simply put, "more of the same" hasn't proven to be a compelling story (even as he objectively enjoys great success). There is little sense of a developmental arc. Brunner does have some range, and for me Daemmerlicht, his 2018 transmission from a space away from the dance floor, was a recent high watermark. But you know exactly which type of mood to expect before even hearing a new Recondite album. So what should we make of this duality?
"I am coherent with what I do, even if I'm not reinventing myself," Brunner says about Dwell, his return to Ghostly. He's not mistaken. Of Recondite's handful of shades, the one we find on Dwell will feel most familiar. This is mostly a mid-paced house and techno record, with simple drums decorated by plaintive and often lovely synths. "Nobilia," "Interlude 1" and "Surface" are slower and cleave to broken-beat patterns. "Interlude 2" features only layers of sad synthesizers. But otherwise, Brunner is more than happy with the steady pulse of a rounded kick drum and the feeling that dawn is breaking on a frigid winter's morning. "Moon Pearl" is around 90 BPM, which nicely suits the Recondite brand of contemplation, and "Cure," the album's first single, features a strong melody that should slot comfortably into Brunner's club set. Other than that, there isn't much more to mention.
So we have an artist who's found a very comfortable groove, continues to produce from it, and plenty of people love him for it. It may be an enormous cop-out to say that if you like Recondite you'll probably like Dwell, and if you don't like Recondite (or you're a music writer) you probably won't. But, like Brunner's music, some things really are that simple.
03. Black Letter
04. Interlude 1
05. Mirror Games
07. Interlude 2
09. Moon Pearl
10. Wire Threat
11. Equal (Bonus Track)