DJ Koze brings us into the love dimension on the producer’s third studio album, Knock Knock.
With Knock Knock, it appears that DJ Koze has identified a recipe for success – 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’, which displayed similar upbeat house characteristics. Here, Koze is cleaner and methodical, aiming at a mainstream audience.
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 DJ 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 – of hip-hop group Arrested Development. ‘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 on Knock Knock, ‘Scratch That’. Over a jittery minimal beat of claps and constant samples of murmurs, 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. The result is almost what Koze had in mind. It’s the producer’s most accessible project in his storied career, a result of his penchant for feature vocalists, easing of his abrasive production techniques and the eclectic style of Knock Knock.
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 may be able to get DJ Koze in a few more Spotify playlists, it feels exactly like that – a playlist. It’s 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 (featuring Eddie Fummler)’
Listen to ‘Pick Up’ below: