Lars Leonhard: Passenger At Night (BineMusic)
Lars Leonhard has had a fairly steady output over the last few years, amassing a substantial repertoire. Passenger at Night, his latest for the Bine label, is my favorite I’ve heard so far. It’s a long one, clocking in right at the CD max of 80 minutes. Of course, in the digital age, artists are free to work in longer formats, no longer constrained by physical media limitations, but I’m usually happy to hear something fairly concise rather than utterly sprawling. Passenger at Night rests comfortably in the middle, with eleven tracks plus a remix by labelmate Martin Nonstatic. Over the span of its many pieces, Leonhard splashes generously in the moist center of that intersection of dub and techno explored so perfectly by influential acts like Rhythm & Sound.
Considering its title, it makes sense that Passenger at Night radiates moonlight with a distinctly late night intimacy. “Night Train to Berlin” sets things off in style, with a drowsy, hazy air about it and a subtly driving dub-tinged rhythm section. Leonhard varies the sedated throb of the proceedings, sometimes with a steady pulse of techno (“So Close So Far”, “Vienna”) and at others slowing down into something more downtempo (“Long Way Home,” “Heimweh”). And every so often, a track like “Lilly’s Spieluhr” has the faint twinkle of starlight while its melodic flourishes lend it a more human touch. It works quite well as a start to finish journey, perfectly conjuring up imagery suggested by its title; fans of dub-infused techno and chill-out music will likely enjoy Leonhard’s late night grooves as much as I do.