German electronic artist, Recondite (aka Lorenz Brunner) returns with an album that serves as something of a sequel to his 2013 minor classic, Hinterland. Again partnering with Ghostly International, he further explores the chilly, minimal sound of Hinterland as an aesthetic and tonal template.
As with Hinterland, Dwell focuses on emotive, reflective soundscapes that gradually draw you in with their intangible sense of mystery. Once again, Brunner has created a superior set of sensitive, multi-layered compositions full of subtle shades that seem to exist in their own time and place.
Album opener “Dwell” quickly immerses you back in the similarly remote, digital wilds of Hinterland. Bathed in shadow from the outset, murky electronics intermingle with tense, ringing synth notes and a crisp, unhurried beat. It all feels reassuringly familiar, like being transported to a half-forgotten, distant location with Brunner taking his time to color in all the details as he takes his time to reintroduce recognizable sonic threads.
The slow-burning “Nobilia” sees Brunner take these strands while picking up a few more as he broadens his sound by incorporating his love of hip-hop structures. Although keen to work within his established aesthetic, his approach is anything but fixed. So while he may be embracing an older artistic identity on this album, his musical perspective and abilities have been through seven years of change and adaptation, and it shows throughout the album.
“Black Letter” is a little more mournful with eerie synth notes gracefully appearing amongst the misty, murky electronics. Every lingering note intensifies the experience, amplifying its emotional resonance before being allowed to bleed into the background, having left a lasting and haunting impression.
The first of the two interlude pieces, “Interlude 1”, also continues the hip-hop influence with the addition of rumbling electronics and otherworldly synth notes. Album standout, “Mirror Games”, builds from a stimulating techno beat and ringing, arpeggiated synth notes like the peeling of distant bells. It’s a prime example of his more immersive soundscapes coalescing with the more dancefloor-friendly beats.
The more melancholic “Cure” features a spectral, nebulous dynamic with chilly atmospheric electronics punctuated by soft, repeated keyboard hooks. It has a delicate, intangible quality with the composite parts of the track so loosely connected that it’s a wonder it doesn’t just sink and disappear at any moment.
With drifting, synth chimes, and a rolling beat, the meditative, “Surface” gracefully builds before getting stuck like a kite caught in the branches of a tree. It takes time to wrestle and writhe its way free before continuing on its weightless journey.
The ethereal “Moon Pearl”, continues in a similar vein with hazy electronics and shimmering synths guiding the track into the abstract. Album closer, “Wire Threat”, ends the record on a fittingly enigmatic note. Over shuffling percussion and ominous, thrumming electronics, the song sounds lost, never finding a familiar space to settle. It’s an unnerving ending to the album with any sense of resolution left teasingly just out of reach.
Dwell is an indefinite, amorphous album that constantly shapes and reshapes itself. Once again, Recondite has produced an enigmatic, ruminative minimal techno album that finds him successfully reconnecting and then further exploring the sounds that he used so strikingly on Hinterland.