ARTIST: DJ KOZE
LABEL (YEAR): PAMPA (2013)
FOR FANS OF: MOOMIN, FOUR TET, JÜRGEN PAAPE
Wordy by Theo Kotz
‘We need to eat, we need to sleep and we need… Music’ – So goes the quote at the beginning of this album’s opener ‘Track ID Anyone?’ Knowingly romantic and playful, this opening sort of sums up DJ Koze’s general aesthetic. Though he’s known somewhat as house music’s resident joker, a boundless love of music is evident in all he turns his hand to, keeping his joviality from becoming contrived. His reputation is iron-clad at this point following world class remix collections, the genre-bending DJ Kicks 50 and countless dancefloor destroyers – not least 2015’s behemoth of a tune ‘XTC’.
Even without all of the above (and his alias tracks besides) the two original Koze LPs would be enough to earn anyone a place among dance music’s pantheon. Amygdala is the second of the two, released eight years after Kosi Comes Around. It was my first introduction to his work and it totally blew me away. It works as an album better than just about any house record I can think of, weaving together a progression of verdant textures, bittersweet melody and a sense of joy throughout.
Highlights include the crunchy overdriven bass and naughty off-kilter riff on ‘Marilyn Whirlwind’ and the eider-down soft pads, skittish hats and steel drums of ‘La Duquesa’. Then there’s the cameos from friends scattered across the record: Dan Snaith’s (aka Caribou) lightly dusted melancholy on the aforementioned opener; Apparat’s soulful mumble over a porcelain shimmer on ‘Nices Wölkchen’; and Mathew Dear’s drugged out warble on my personal favourite ‘Magical Boy’.
It’s refreshing that it doesn’t take itself too seriously in the often po-faced world of house and techno and there’s experimentation and musical left turns on show here that no-one else is really pulling off. Most importantly though, it’s deeply affecting music that just gets under your skin. After the first listen I tracked down all of Koze’s music and cycled through all of it for weeks. Hear it to believe it.