Published Jan 24, 2020Meditative, contemplative, pensive — all words that could be used to describe Lorenz Brunner's musical output for the past nine years. As Recondite, the Bavarian artist has produced a discography of moving electronica with a particular sonic signature. Crisp, precisely arranged percussive sounds marry warbling, crooning synthesizers to unique effect. His sounds are evocative of, on one hand, frigid nature scenes, as with his early Plangent and Ghostly International releases, and on the other hand, the less cerebral, more propulsive sounds on labels like Life and Death and Afterlife. On Dwell, his most recent album for Ghostly International, Brunner purposefully returns to nature.
Spanning 11 tracks, Dwell is one of the lengthier albums in Recondite's discography. This does lends itself to some caveats. As compared to On Acid, which contained a comparatively lean six original compositions and two remixes, Dwell can at times feel bloated. The title track is largely devoid of the compelling matter that existed in his early Plangent material, and a similar case runs through on several other compositions on the album. Yes, the same general skeleton exists, but the level of care given to the construction feels somewhat glossed-over.
The same situation exists in "Black Letter" and "Cure," where it feels like what made compositions like these unique and compelling, initially, is simply cast aside and discarded in favour generic reimaginings of his earlier work. "Mirror Games" does contain some level of intrigue with the synthesiser work, with parallels that could be drawn to Mind Against's early Life and Death release, Avalon.
Of course, given that this is a Recondite album, it is necessarily replete with ambient and downtempo hip-hop-esque instrumental interludes. "Interlude 1," with its siren-like cries drowned in reverb, fails to leave a lasting impression beyond the lead sound. However, entering the second half of the album, "Interlude 2" provides a moment of intrigue and genuine compassion. A short and relatively straightforward composition, it evokes more than a lot of what preceded it.
Eventually, the highlight of the album shows itself in "Wire Threat." Curious, restrained and evocative of the Recondite of the past, it is a glittering gem in a largely opaque album. Finally, offered as a bonus track, "Equal" is a strong effort to round out Dwell, enough that it's somewhat strange that it was designated a "bonus track."
For diehard fans, this album will be lapped up and enjoyed thoroughly. For everyone else, it remains to be seen whether Brunner will regain the consistency of his earlier years. Although the quality of the album tends to range drastically, it does offer a few glimpses as to why his music is so strongly followed. In the end, though, Dwell winds up being somewhat lukewarm. (Ghostly International)