The concept of music as a language is perhaps one of such resounding spiritual significance that we as humans may keep revisiting its wisdom ad infinitum. Not just to explain what we can say with words, but what we cannot. It’s with this idea in mind that Tim Bernhardt behind his better-known pseudonym Satin Jackets aims to remedy a translation for the complicated yet mutual feelings born of solitude and dissociation more of us share than we perhaps may ever realise.
Much like Bernhardt’s sentiment of stripping down life to the simple things that matter, so too does ‘Reunion’ resound strongly with an evident belief that sometimes less is simply more. Most arrangements across its generous 14-track offering attempt to deliver little more than a handful of primary elements at any given moment. Never across its numerous implementations of lush piano progressions, wistful vocals, tactful synthesis and exotic percussion does it ever attempt to serve you more than you can chew, with compositions intentionally left sparse enough that each element can breathe and let even the smallest intricacies shine. The result is that instead of relentless battles between fore and background set pieces, ‘Reunion’ is a cake you can not only have, but eat too, even on non-instrumental gems featuring the likes of Ivy Falls, Metaxas, Tailor and of course, Australian darling Panama.
Unfortunately, and not also unlike too much cake, the long run time of Bernhardt’s latest LP says what it’s trying to say rather early on in its relatively long run time, with not enough unique ideas to justify how much attention it asks of you, lending an unfortunate sense of déjà vu at times when you feel like you’ve heard the same track just previous. Album highlights like the preceding ‘Coffee and Feels’ and welcome surprise ‘Hundred Fifty Up’ evidence the incredible engineering talent we have come to expect from a foray into the Satin Jackets discography, and while album closer ‘Don’t Worry ‘exhibits this magnificently, you can’t help but feel like there’s a missed opportunity on the behalf of Bernhardt to not only further experiment but remind listeners of just how both pronounced and subdued his production wheelhouse can truly be just as we saw flexed with 2019’s ‘Solar Nights’ and 2016’s ‘Panorama Pacifico’ respectively. In Bernhardt’s defence, the unforced nature of Reunion was of course intentional in design, but with just shy of an hour run-time, it feels somewhat implicitly like there was potential for not just nuance, but at least a small dose of exhibitionism.
But while an obsession with adhering to familiar frameworks may prevent it from charting new territory, ‘Reunion’ undeniably stands as yet another successful entry in charting any given Satin Jackets track’s ability to feel first-in-class. Delivering an unmistakable signature of classy, pool-side grooves, soundscapes and at times even straight melancholy, it’s a release that refrains from easily indulging anything too dark, ultimately delivering on the conceptual vision of its creator in an effort that will no doubt chart the likes of top dance and electronic lists across the globe instead.