DJ Koze - Knock Knock
DJ Koze brings us into the love dimension on his third studio album, Knock Knock.
It seems DJ Koze has identified a recipe for success with his latest release, Knock Knock. – not that his previous work has been anything short of spectacular. But on his third record, the German producer taps into cyclic disco-house, providing highlights like ‘Moving in a Liquid’, ‘Pick Up’ and ‘Seeing Aliens’. Koze has recently found success in his 2015 single ‘XTC’ and his 2016 disco remix of Lapsley’s ‘Operator’, both songs displaying similar upbeat house characteristics. Here, Koze is cleaner and more methodical, turning his attention to the mainstream.
The best of Knock Knock’s collection of dance-friendly tunes is easily Side C opener ‘Pick Up’. It’s not just the masterpiece of Koze’s third album, it’s one of the great tracks of 2018. There’s two very contrasting samples that fuel the brilliance of the song. The first heard is Melba Moore’s ‘Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance’, where Koze borrows the funky guitar licks of the track, infusing disco into ‘Pick Up’. The second sample, Gladys Knight’s ‘Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First to Say Goodbye)’ contrasts the song’s upbeat nature, typifying Koze’s ability to alter the atmosphere of his moody electronic compositions.
Knock Knock is the most wide-ranging LP Koze has ever produced. Generally, each genre Koze explores is executed masterfully – the rusty indie-folk of the Jose Gonzalez featured ‘Music On My Teeth’, parallel-universe pop of the Roisin Murphy featured ‘Illumination’ and the squeaky late-night lullaby of Mano Le Tough featured ‘Planet Hase’.
However, a couple of Koze’s explorations miss the mark, specifically his first foray into rap with the help, or burden, of Speech (member of hip-hop group Arrested Development). Their collaboration, ‘Colors of Autumn’, is off-kilter, which isn’t new for Koze, but this time it comes from the vocals of Speech. The rapper’s delivery sounds like it’s recorded at a karaoke bar after a few too many. What may be worse is that the vocals seem like they’re lazily laid over Koze’s instrumental, and it’s not the only occasion on the album. ‘This Is My Rock’ – featuring Pampa Records-signed Sophia Kennedy – displays the same painful conflict between the instrumental and vocals.
Another track that shoots low of Koze’s lofty standards is the second collaboration with Roisin Murphy, ‘Scratch That’. Over a jittery minimal beat of claps and constant sample murmurings, lion grumbles and voice loops, ‘Scratch That’ never blossoms into anything memorable. It’s a muddled mishmash of kooky sounds rather than a song.
Never has DJ Koze released a body of work more intended for mainstream audience appeal and the result is almost what Koze had in mind. It’s the producer’s most accessible project in his storied career, a combination of his penchant for feature vocalists, an easing of his more abrasive production techniques, and Knock Knock’s eclectic style.
The album covers many bases in its swooning, swamping and saddening approach – from hip-hop, to low-fi indie, to disco house. While it’s extensive nature will likely get DJ Koze in a few more Spotify playlists – and it feels exactly like that: a playlist in an of itself – it’s probably the album’s biggest blemish. Luckily, the album’s best moments keep the intrigue well and truly ignited over the mammoth hour-plus duration of Knock Knock.
‘Pick Up’, ‘Seeing Aliens’ and ‘Moving in a Liquid (feat. Eddie Fummler)’