Hinterland is so wintry that you can almost feel the frostbite creeping up your extremities. Imagine a Smallville 12-inch on a trek through the German woods in the middle of January. The album's sound is deep and textured, but also lonely—there's a sort of deadened feeling to the drums that mirrors the eerie silence of walking through snow. Everything feels extremely close. Even the heavy reverb on "Leafs" and "Riant," the album's most melodic tracks, creates intimacy rather than distance. It's a record where the small gestures matter most, like the percussion on "Stems," which sounds like the pitter-patter of footsteps on damp earth.
Those enamoured by the heart-on-sleeve pathos of On Acid might be disappointed here, and in truth, after that album's glorious flip of the acid sound there's something underwhelming about a record full of relatively conventional tracks. But Hinterland is still emotionally resonant—its feelings are just hidden in the folds, and in the faithful repetition of its dolorous melodies and careful drums. It's the kind of record you have to put time into if you want to discover what it's really about. Fans of his earlier work will no doubt find much to love, along with anyone who likes the deep house of labels like Smallville and Dial. More of a temporary stop-off than an evolution for Recondite, Hinterland shows us another side of one of Berlin's most compelling artists.