Looking over Conforce’s five-year discography, its seems fair to say that his work has become darker, more deliberate and bottom-heavy. Where once Boris Bunnik put his name to free-spirited cuts like “Our Concern” or “Cruising,” his newer stuff — “Vacuüm,” for instance — is altogether more somber. Time Dilation, the Dutchman’s latest 12″, continues this trajectory, traversing the same luminescent, cavernous and dub-influenced realms of recent times. “Nomad” is pretty typical in this sense. Underscored by the patter of deep drums and minuscule percussion, it’s a real exercise in precision and sparseness. Bunnik excels at this sound, of course. In this particular instance, what holds things up is a chilly organ-like pad, which drones sadly throughout the entire duration. It’s a small touch, but one which fends off the feeling that the careful, effect-treated beats are a mere tool or experiment.
That’s another thing worth mentioning with regard to Bunnik’s opus, in fact: the continuing excellence of his sound design. Not only are his favored sounds interesting in themselves, they always seem impeccably crisp. In “Receiver” and “Embrace,” this sentiment is demonstrated by the pin-prick leads which dominate the spectrum. Perhaps they’re like a ship in a bottle — mostly interesting because of the tiny scale — but as their niggling melodies slowly unravel, burrowing deeper and deeper inside the brain, they do seem to have a disproportionate impact. In this sense, both cuts, and “Receiver” particularly, seem to have a lot in common with the Dettmann/Klock school of thought. But while the three pieces described above are certainly well-designed and undeniably Conforce-y, in contrast with, say, “Grace” or “Shadows of the Invisible,” there seems a distinctive lack of flair. The mood is a little too drab and deliberate, relegating these tracks somewhere into the middle of the meaty Conforce canon. Thankfully, however, there’s an exception to this statement in “Last Anthem.” Its ingredients are much the same as before: attention to detail, an eerie mood and minimalism. Here, though, Bunnik seems to shrug off the cloying sense of seriousness. Huge kicks — really freakin’ huge — dominate the occasion, their over-driven fuzz masking the piping notes which continually seem to shoot from no where. For some, this style might stretch the boundaries of good taste, but at least it takes a risk of sorts — something the rest of Time Dilation could benefit from.