“I don’t even see myself as an artist, I’m just an individual that enjoys making music in the simplest and most intuitive way possible.” The Bavarian-born Lorenz Brunner has been exacting his ethos on the music industry since 2011 under the artist pseudonym Recondite. An ethos, because Brunner’s approach transcends that of his musicianship but rather spills over to his approach to life itself. Pragmatic by nature, but somewhat of a separate character from most in the industry, Recondite’s namesake is particularly telling. However, it seems as though what once may have been viewed as an unorthodox approach to electronic music may in fact be more commonplace now than when Brunner began his career.
His musical influences are broad and varied, from unrestrained rap music (his “What’s in my bag?” Is telling), to the rock music of his parents. Indeed, it may be surprising to some to know that one of his favourite producers is Noah Shebib, the producer more commonly known as “40”, who was behind the rise of Drake and his now heavily mimicked sound. Sparse, melodic, and precise instrumentation are hallmarks of both producers. Although he admits that hip-hop is what is “closest” to him, he understandably has a love of dance music, spurned on from hearing Superpitcher’s “Today” mix. At the time, minimal was the driving force in electronic music, but Brunner found solace in melody and orchestration, where glimpses of this were found in the now seminal Kompakt mix CD. Eventually, this would lead de:Bug to compare his music to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, but “in 808.” Such high praise was not the result of a lack of passion or effort. “I love every track I’ve done. Tracks can be [done] in 2 hours or 2 weeks. Even my very first ones, which didn’t make any sense and sounded like shit.” It’s not unreasonable to label him as part of a brand of producers that was more at home in the studio than the club. “I think I was never a nightlife person, and never really went out late at night in the DJ scene. [It] helped me to not even think of a career like that.”
From the early stages of his burgeoning career, Brunner made an effort to ignore the consequences or byproducts of his pursuit in favour of prioritizing his musical end product. “There was no negative period. There was not even the slightest possible thought on a career in music, in the way that it happened later,” he says. For a period, working as a part-time physical therapist was his primary income source. His lifestyle mandated prioritization and discipline in order to keep expenses low and to continue living in Berlin. He was, however, perfectly content with this. “I just enjoyed learning the techniques that were necessary to express myself in music. I got extremely hooked to this. I got such extreme amounts of enjoyment after finishing a track.” Eventually, a stroke of good fortune happened upon Lorenz Brunner, where a certain Paul Rose appeared on his client list at the gym. Scuba, who was at the time transitioning away from dubstep to more 4/4 grounded rhythms, was already known for his support for those at the onset of their careers, notably Mount Kimbie. After some solid advice and production feedback, Recondite released Plangent #001 on his own record label. Well received, the seeds were planted for a new face to enter the electronic music world. “I think that with some tracks, I did hit a nerve, but in the end you have to be at the right place at the right time in life, at some point, if you [want to] gain population with your work (quality content is not enough).”
Yet, quality content is the hallmark of a Lorenz Brunner production. Recondite’s discography seems to have breached the upper rungs of underground electronic music for the last few years. Notably, with tracks like “Cleric”, on Rødhåd’s Dystopian Records, that Scuba described as the “recent techno record that’s got the biggest reactions in my DJ sets over the past couple of years”, putting it in his top 10 warehouse techno tracks for Dummy Mag. Or, the lushly orchestrated “Levo”, on Innervisions, that has permeated the mainstream by featuring on HBO’s “The Young Pope”. Two tracks that appear to be on the opposite spectrums of house and techno, but are alike in fundamental ways. Even with all of this, Brunner remains grounded in his outlook, describing his “artistic focus” (a phrase of which he is not fond) as permanent and constant, in the sense that it is consistently understated. “Everything I do that can be interpreted as art is based only on the fun and enjoyment I have while doing it. There is no deep spiritual and emotional meaning in my approach to my music.” He continues, “So, I don’t need more ‘artistic focus’, as long as I enjoy making music. If this stops, I’m happy to end my career.”
A career in electronic music means extensive touring for Recondite. Whether a dark nightclub, or the untouched Mecca of a Lost In A Moment party, Brunner’s music fits the mood. His ability to sense the appropriate music for the occasion has subsequently led to the incredibly high placements on the Resident Advisor live act rankings over the past few years. However, the touring excessiveness does not come without its faults for him. “Isolation happens much more on tour than at home,” he chimes. Indeed, it was a singular policy of his to heavily reduce his schedule for 2016, and into 2017, for the sake of his mental and physical well-being.
Interestingly, a trend has developed over the years – where the initial phases of his career were dominated by minimal, we now live in an age where Dixon has been RA’s top DJ for four years running. With big emotions and expansive breakdowns, Lorenz Brunner’s music fits the current mood. Unsurprisingly, with the success comes the eventual stylistic mimicry from amateurs. This trend was prevalent to the point where Scuba tweeted that people needed to stop sending him demos that sounded like Recondite’s or Mind Against’s. To those with burgeoning careers, he says: “First and foremost advice: don’t start producing for a career. You end up making stuff you think is hype (and you also momentarily like, maybe) to fit demand and gain attention.” Instead, he advises: “Listen to yourself and be pragmatic about this approach. Learn who you are first and then learn your very own way to express this in music.”
What Recondite represents, musically, is something that aims to transcend dance floors into something more profound. Music that can be appreciated from a critical and artistic context, as well as on a dance floor. This is perhaps no more apparent than the glimpses we’ve learned of his upcoming album, that will focus on experimental sounds and ambient music. Agreeing that the content could be described as that of early Plangent material but without a kick drum, or another similar analogy, he has long wanted to express himself musically without the structural constraints of dance music. Electronic music, of course, does not necessarily need percussive rhythms to be complete. “I can only say that I had to move the release date to early 2018, as I have decided to release it on my label, Plangent Records. I need some preparation time within the label structure to make this happen.” Above all the analysis and explanation Lorenz’ music, a live set is of course the best way to experience. Fortunately, opportunities aren’t hard to come by. As for the completion of the upcoming album, he responds in appropriately utilitarian terms: “The LP is finished, but there is no rush.”
Recondite plays Electric Island on Canada Day, July 1st. Purchase tickets HERE.
Feature image by Tautvydas Stukas