Review: Recondite - Hinterland


Dsytopian, Hot Flush and Midnight Shift artist Recondite who also has his own Plangent label releases his 2nd LP 'Hinterland' on the famed Ghostly International label. After his much acclaimed debut 'On Acid' on the Absurd/Acid Test label, the producer has become somewhat of a connoisseur's choice. His delicate, sophisticated output carries with it an air of finesse, adding a much-needed capsule of quality to the plethora of dance music out there.

This album follows in the vein of the producer's repute. From the first note of the long-player, one is lured to take a step through the woods. And then a next and a next, trekking through the hinterland of Recondite's mind. If anyone has taken a walk in the Lower Bavarian woods (where Recondite is from), it probably might feel much like this album. If can be argued that music is also a thumbprint on geography, then this album is a good case for it. Like the European temperate climate, 'Hinterland' is wintry, cold and still, at times, and it takes a native to understand the beauty in this.

He explains, "I tried to capture the area’s mentality and natural environment within the album,"…"Particularly the moods that behold the emotions of the four seasons, which differ a lot in this region.”

The names of the tracks offer further clues. Like the artwork on his Plangent releases, they take cue from his love of nature. Simply, 'Leafs', 'Stems' and 'Floe' are found objects from his Hinterland trek that are now imprinted musically on record, while 'Rise', 'Still' and 'The Fade' act as temporal signposts to the album. The climax of the album comes in the tracks 'Abscondence' and 'Clouded' - the battles of our lone hiker - before 'Fey' appears to restore faith and calm.

Tracks like 'Abscondence' which was chosen for pre-release preview majestically wells up to a crescendo, a tinkling refrain keeping suspense throughout the composition. 'Clouded', is a more solemn number with sinister tones that blink their way like a light signal through a foggy night. 'Fey' has a cinematic progression to it. Beginning with a meditative note, decaying hand claps and other percussive elements, shakers, claves, become present before revealing a hopeful but ultimately sad melody.

The album's ender, 'The Fade' is more upbeat than expected of its track position, and is also one of my favourites in the album. Behaving like a stripped down version of progressive house and rave, the track reaches a climax, only to hold back from becoming a full blown epic number as is in Recondite's style to be reserved. A remix would seem to be of interest here, and the song's cousins 'Riant' and also 'Abscondence' are other evidences of Recondite's mastery in electronic melody.

The album's bonus track, the tribalesque 'Grove' summons forth a 'wetter' atmosphere, with carefully placed instrumental drops creating a rich ecosystem of sounds to wonder and get lost in. A blueprint of instrumental techno?

What set Recondite apart are his carefully crafted soundscapes, a ear for detail and fine melodies of the wistful kind. In a few years, the producer has defined a sound all to himself that clearly cuts through the air, be it in the dungeon-like caverns of Berghain or in the misty outdoors of a festival in Taipei. At moments chilling, at others even sterile, Recondite has always taken a clinical approach to his music. But the melodies of his music betray him, and rather than sounding heartless, the result is full of heart. 


01. Rise
02. Leafs
03. Still
04. Riant
05. Stems
06. Floe
07. Abscondence
08. Clouded
09. Fey
10. The Fade