Tamborello has said Aimlessness began as a Dntel project stemming from his increased interest in instrumental electronic music, and the mood here favors smoky atmospherics and restrained soundscapes. As in the past, Dntel works well with layering synthesizers and upending repetition by introducing unexpected glitches, but continues to tamp down the most interesting diversions before they threaten to overwhelm the more relaxed, swirling elements. Aimlessness is full of flashes of weirdness briefly asserting themselves, such as the Pong bassline bouncing around the end of "Doc" or the horn fanfares chopped over factory chattering midway through "Bright Night."
"Santa Ana Winds" contracts vocals from Nite Jewel into sighed repetitions over a burbling outro, and the gooey sentimentality of album opener "waitingfortherest II" teeters well between starry night cinematics and dissonance. "Trudge" is the highlight, with muscular didgeridoos, sequences of buzzing extra-terrestrial conversation, and percussion that sounds like Siamese twins thrown drunk and flailing into Neil Peart's kit. These dynamic bursts beg to be extended, but Dntel uses them purely as transitional elements between unthreatening placidity and lush anonymity, not so much the dance floor as the woozy, addled morning-after.
Dntel is adept at conjuring scenes: the two versions of "Jitters" on Aimlessness sound like they're borne from the same carnival, the first suggesting the stimulation of a spinning merry-go-round and the latter mix by Geotic, a kiss on the Ferris wheel high above the deep-fried haze. Ultimately, though, the songs lack character, endless synth crescendos and swells devolving into montage-pop and making Aimlessness sound twice as long as its 50 minute length. Songs like "My Orphaned Son," "Retracer" and "Paper Landscape" collapse in on themselves as they shoot for deep contemplation, sounding bland and lacking warmth. As you unspool slowly into Aimlessness, you can't help but wish for a more mediating human touch.