Rich Reviews: Recondite @ Opium Rooms, 26th June 2015

Recondite at Opium

RECONDITE (Lorenz Brunner by birth) hails from South Bavaria in the Southern corner of Germany. Growing up in a small village by the name of Berg (German for mountain) which was surrounded by dense forest, Lorenz learned to appreciate nature from a very young age. This understanding and awareness of the inter-connectivity of all things has played a big part in Recondite’s rise to success in the underground dance scene, as separate as those two may seem. With releases on revered labels like Innervisions, Life and Death, Dystopian and even Hotflush Recordings, there is no doubt that Recondite has become a serious player. And looking at the frequency of his releases, he has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Recondite hadn’t visited Dublin to perform in almost a year (since the last time Abstract brought him to Opium Rooms), so this set was highly anticipated. There’s no such thing as half measures with this man. His live sets are an extension of his identity, so to say we were getting a glimpse into his soul would be a very fair statement to make. This is even more so the case, given that everything he plays is his own work.

On the night, local techno producer, Will Kinsella, warmed up the crowd for the main man. Will has been getting recognized internationally recently, with support from the likes of Richie Hawtin. As excitement spread throughout the venue, Will took full advantage and really had fun with the crowd. He kept the music under control perfectly, keeping things lighthearted enough yet still energetic and spirited. He finished his set with a wonderful piece of elevator techno that encapsulated the crowd in a bubble of improvised saxophone and excited anticipation on a backdrop of deep and dark percussion.

Recondite took to the stage at around 1am. He began tamely, aware of the crowd’s energy level, not wanting to jump the gun. Of all the artists I’ve seen perform live, none can empathize with their crowd quite like him. There is a certain hint of perfection in his minimalist approach to music. Listening to Recondite tracks through headphones is one thing, but to hear him play live is an entirely different experience full of opulent bass sounds and exquisitely constructed melodies that cut deep into the heart of the listener.

His live set went from calmly melancholy to aggressive and intense. Every piece of music was deserving of its place in the mix. It’s essential to pack a mix with a couple of pallet cleansers and Recondite knows this all too well. Like most, he produces his music with ‘club playability’ in mind although unlike most, his sets consist solely of his own work. The meticulous attention to detail can be heard in each track. It was quite special to watch him take them apart and rebuild them as one hour long emotional journey, the highlight of which was hearing this monster!

As an artist who works in solitude, one might not expect much of a stage presence from him. I guess there’s some truth to that. I’d rather say that his stage presence was calm and focused. The performance wasn’t about Recondite the man, it was all about the music. You don’t get the arms in the air soaking in the glory of it all, you get a man determined to deliver to a very high standard. That, Recondite is very good at. So good in fact, that he was voted the best live act of 2014 by Resident Advisor users.

“I can’t take it if I don’t go to the woods for a period of longer than three weeks. It’s the air and everything, the birds, I don’t know, it’s very important for me.”

Lorenz spends a lot of time in solitude wandering through forests. There is a whole world of natural sounds out there waiting to be discovered and he is well aware of this. The uniqueness of his work can be (at least partially) attributed to the fact that he records so many field recordings. The sound of a branch thudding off a fallen tree trunk can become the perfect kick drum, the rustle of weather-hardened leaves can play the role of a high-hat, the rattling of light pebbles being moved down a stream of water can be transformed into a snare drum (with enough experience) . Recondite uses these real world sounds and finds the melody inherent in nature to create his music. It may seem counter-intuitive that a techno producer finds his muse in nature, you might imagine an abandoned warehouse with lots of ‘metal bits’ to clang together would suit better. In actual fact, Lorenz feels discomfort in urban environments and almost needs to escape back to nature every now and again. In an interview with Resident Advisor  he explained that he can’t really connect to “the whole city vibe”.

I imagine a message exists within the truth of Recondite’s existence. That message is one of love, connection and balance. The emotions that engulf us when we return to the natural world are trying to tell us something. Recondite gives us a glimpse into this beauty in his music. I hope for all of our sake that we don’t destroy his source of inspiration to make Ikea tables before we get another opportunity to see him live in Dublin.

Rich Reviews: Mano Le Tough @ Opium Rooms, 3rd May 2015




With the recent growth of the underground dance scene, it’s not unusual to find yourself spoilt for choice when looking to go out in Dublin City. That’s even more so the case on a bank holiday Sunday. Mano Le Tough was going up against Karenn (Blawan/Pariah), Chris Leibing and Jeff Mills in the bid to draw a crowd and ultimately throw a great party. While that’s no small task, Mano’s name attracts with it a certain amount of respect and appreciation from the Irish crowd and this was evident from the turnout on the night.


Opium Rooms, which, in a past life was a club called The Village known for chart music, drink deals and first year college students, has been revamped and rebranded with the intention of playing host to world renowned underground DJs. The likes of Detroit Swindle, Phil Hartnoll, Skream and Groove Armada have already made appearances. Definitely a cool venue, suited to the style of music Mano is so well known for playing. The main room’s high ceiling and relatively narrow width allows for an all-encompassing soundscape that really captivates its audience and this night was no different in that regard.  The sheer anticipation of Mano taking to the stage had the crowd in a whirlwind of excitement as Lil’ Dave (the label manager of Maeve Records, a label run by Mano Le Tough, The Drifter and Baikal) wrapped up his energetic yet tame warm up set. It was clear from his tune selection that this man knew how to warm up for Mano.

Mano started as expected with a fantastic melodic breakdown, giving his crowd a moment to gather themselves in preparation for the incoming waves of percussion and low frequency vibrations. It’s during these lulls that Mano’s passion for his craft really shines through. It’s during these breaks that we get a glimpse into his deep love for beautiful sounds. The way in which he fuses heartfelt vocals, synthesized melodies and hard hitting drums always guarantees an emotional set.

To give you a taste of the rich quality of Mano’s tune selection, I’ve included this absolutely wonderful piece by Floating Points, ‘Nuits Sonores’.

Focused and in control, Mano brought us on a three hour journey that oscillated between tranquillity and euphoria. Full of long blends and perfectly timed EQ control, Mano’s mixing was just as flawless as his tune selection. It’s important to appreciate when a DJ can back up his production with technical skill behind a set of decks and Mano is no stranger to a pair of CDJs. Although he grew up in Dublin, it wasn’t until he moved to Berlin in 2009 that he got heavily involved in the scene. It was very clear to see that he learned his craft in probably the best city in the world to do so. There was a great sense of the influence of the Panorama Bar, in which Mano held his album launch in 2013, from the way in which he shaped his set.

It’s also very important for me to be able to see that a DJ is enjoying himself while he works and without doubt, Mano had fun. At times it felt as though the crowd were his puppets and he was our puppet master, gently tugging on our strings, giving us a moment to catch our breath, then ripping hard on them with melodies that cut through the entire mix. Aware of his crowd control, he’d take a step back to appreciate the crowd for their devotion to him with a couple of over the head claps before returning to his deck duties. Not once did he let a mix go out of control, a light handed flick of the jog-wheel, a disciplined touch of the pitch fader and then focus would shift back to the mixer with full confidence that the two tracks were perfectly aligned with one another.

As the night went on, the melodic breaks gave way to progressively heavier tracks and an increase in tempo. By 3am, the energy in the room temporarily ‘lifted the smoking ban’ and Mano’s people took full advantage of the opportunity to get a nicotine fix without missing a single beat of the magical journey they were witnessing. Nothing could accurately describe the euphoria as the night rolled on towards 4am. Mano toyed with his audience, leaving nothing but the highest frequency sounds in the mix, the crowd begging for more before he finally gave it to us.

To wrap up, Mano played a (presumably unreleased) remix of Moloko’s Sing It Back which used the original track’s vocal elements infused with dark dubby sounds and heavy percussion. To hear the crowd sing it back to him and to catch him grinning cheekily towards Lil’ Dave as they did so, was a perfect moment.

Kristian Beyer of Âme once said “Thanks to Mano Le Tough, I have no fears for the future of house music” and after witnessing him turn Opium Rooms into a haven for heartfelt, emotional music I can safely say I feel the very same.