The picture is an apt descriptor of Brandon Knocke’s music. Dreamy and mythical, his songs play like they’re wafting through a thick fog, dispersing slowly like smoke when touched by a slight breeze. Gushing synth pads are often the songs’ backbones, an Italo-disco tendency where one chord is still recognizable through its extended reverberation — even as the next sequence hits. There’s also a contemplative Kraftwerk-ian element to Knocke’s songs, where these patient synth pads aid in the growth of other more experimental sounds. Colorful ambition sits warmly inside a melodic cocoon, where the tracks always maintain a soothing quality despite synth leads that range from the anxious high-pitched nasal of “Blood Lab” to the vocoded repetition on “Lesbian Software”, which sounds like it could co-exist with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. There’s certainly a futuristic vibe to Knocke’s new album Tunnels, his first full-length under the Discoverer moniker after a series of forty-minute cassettes and an EP.
The first track on Tunnels is “Circular Motherboard”, which travels from a fluttering arpeggiated lead into a beautiful array of starry-eyed synth leads. The prominent bass, which bounces with an extra step, adds a tinge of funk to the relaxed futuristic pop tone. This is one of the more harmonious and upbeat efforts on Tunnels, a superb album capable of many moods despite its emphasis on soothing dream-like futurism. Listeners will also be surprised at the album’s slight yet consuming dance influences, especially in the rhythmic areas, which appeal to head-nodding in moments that appear more cinematic than dancefloor-ready.