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Positive Feedback ISSUE 76
november/december 2014


Recondite, Iffy
by Michael Mercer


Recondite Iffy

Recondite is a master of smooth grooves. 2013's Hinterland was/is a superb compilation of intelligent electronic music that's ideal for just chillin' and listening, or thumpin' the bass in your whip on the way to the city lookin' for some debauchery. Recondites' sound is now. And believe me, I know that sentence sucks. It's pretentious, it's an obvious attempt at framing the deepness that is Recondite, and nobody can do that. His music stands alone, which is a real testament to his attention to detail, whether consciously or not. Recondite albums sound great too, a big bonus when you're listening to an artist like this—whose music is so heavily attached to synthesizers and drum machines. Because his music is so smooth, so velvety, it sounds like he uses a combination of digital and analog synths—or maybe all analog synths and drum machines. I'm not sure, but the sound, while it would definitely be categorized as electronic music, it also has organic-sounding textures.

These layers have characteristics that remind me of watching Richie Hawtin (a.k.a Plastikman) play live on his machines. There are gradual builds and break-downs, which are usually wavy and subtle. This sonic formula helps shape this wonderfully moody record. The bass pounds, the texture of the mids is so silky, and there's this constant dark atmospheric element that I can't put my finger on to describe. If you've ever been to an underground electronic dance music party in a dingy warehouse, you know the vibe I'm talkin' about. It's tribal in a way. There are no great compositional changes on Iffy. It's the rhythmic momentum that is the driving force behind music like this. So when I say tribal—I envision a drum circle. Whether the drum circle is full of wanna-be hippie college kids at a Phish show, or it's a circle that's part of an ancient tribes tradition. It's the movement of the dancers that generates all the energy. The percussion is usually pretty minimal. Well, Iffy is like the soundtrack to a 21st century tribal gathering. It's also a sonic looking-glass into our weekend warrior lives for years while my friends and I traveled and DJ'd in clubs.

This record sounds like an after-hours party in a club, starting around 3:30-4:00 AM—stacked with a sick sound system. And at this point, the only people left on the dance-floor are the dedicated ones. The people who need to dance away their work week, stuck in the rat-race. Admittedly, someone with no sort of emotional attachment to this style of music might not have the same reaction, but it's still a magnificent compilation of atmospheric grooves—actually, if I had to tag this music with a sort of classification I might call it spacey tech-house. "Baro" the kickstarter, sets the mellow, deep pace with hovering synth lines, blippy kicks that seem to jump out into the soundstage, a come back inward, and these strange noises off in the distance. The sounds are what you might imagine if I used the term "futuristic". Some sound like what a laser might sound like in a feature film. That fast transient ping... There are all sorts of random noises throughout Iffy, flowing, or more like hovering around the soundstage. They're always triggered on-time so they're not distracting, but it makes for an interesting listening experience. The changes and those strange sounds I mentioned are also subtle. There's nothin' about Recondites' Iffy that hits you over the head, even though his music thumps. The ebb and flow, plus the ripples-over-a-pond-like musical presentation makes this record part ambient, and part house music. Whatever the buzzwords and classifications—I've been lovin' this record non-stop for a few weeks now.

I also met up with my buddy Russ Stratton while at the Lambert Listening Party in LA last weekend. Now, Russ is very open-minded about music, but sometimes he really surprises me—as I often look forward to sharing new music with him, but I'm never sure if he's gonna like the "electronic" music I review, or tell him about. It's a generational thing I think. Anyway—I was so psyched to see he had a copy of Recondite's last record, Hinterland in his Astell&Kern AK120 player. He said he got it because of my review—so because I dug that album so much too, I wondered if he'd like Iffy. He just wrote me on Facebook to tell me how much he loves it. If this style of music sounds like something you'd enjoy. I highly recommend it, and I also recommend that you play it loud!