D.K once again displays his masterful control of tones and emotive atmospheres with this heart churning, tear jerking mini masterpiece.
Some labels do spend a fair amount of time looking for middle ground between epicness and subtleness, the small moment in time where sparse notes reside within soundscapes of little boundaries. Where adventures await, moments and ripples in time look to churn through the motions and bless us with reflective pauses that simply astound. We wonder and gaze, for a minute taking it all in and pondering on what might have been. The vastness that gets conjured up by the movements between keys, tones and patterns, allows us to really delve into the very essence of what it means to be, to experience music through this conduit of expression and feeling. Its wonderful when musicians and labels look to nurture music that almost reminds us of a long and vast scape, filled with oddities, items and curios that always spark and delve into our mindset, points of interest that turn us in one direction then move us in an entirely different one. The sounds sometimes feel alien, unfamiliar, and sparse, yet we continue to walk towards the light that reverbs some prominently from them. The voids that float around these landmarks tell all kinds of sporadic stories, but leave the gaps for us to try and finish the sentence. The spareness then moves and moulds into density, when producers move between the lines towards an experience that looks to envelope us in its infinite beauty. To create a tether between the two, in terms of tone, atomsphere and serenity, is something reserved for those that walk the line between fluidity and mind boggling experiences.
12th Isle truly does conjure up these moments of magic, and more, throughout their esteemed and respected discography. It reads almost like a book filled with choose your own quirky leftfield adventures, with producers on the label all following from similar cues yet ending at very different yet somewhat familiar end points. But the journeys that play out as a result of this are staggering, to say the least. Their back catalogue remains one of contemporary dance music’s most accomplished and fulfilled, ticking all the boxes when it comes to serving up emotionally fluid, expertly composed and mind sustaining cuts. In terms of highlighted cuts, the discography is for sure short enough to just dive in and taste it all for yourself, but if we had to choose, then Palta and Ti’s brilliant ‘Palta Og Ti På Den Tolvte Ø’ EP from 2018, Ramzi’s ‘Pèze-Piton’ record from 2017, along with their three releases from last year, Lo Kindre’s ‘Chlorophytum’, Pataphysical’s ‘Periphera’, and the various artist release, ‘Inkosi’ all serve up a vast array of flavours and truly represent a label that is true to its word and always looking to expand further. Whilst the styles and feels might vary from release to release, there is an undeniable connection between them all, a invisible musical attraction that binds the records together, celebrating both their individuality and their collectiveness.
And now, the label welcome a new member to their family. D.K has been serving up some beautiful vibes for as long as we can all remember, turning his hand to all manner of styles on his quest for sonic beauty. Its possibly his beautifully considered melodic approach that serves up this warm feeling we constantly want to be involved in, around in, wrapped up in. He invites us to causally embrace his music, its skin deep appeal opening up to a landscape filled with all manner of grace and attention to detail, the swells soft and the dynamics so very wide and comforting. We moves and flow through the ebbs, always wanting and wishing to continue to take moments where our breath is taken away and replaced by quiet other worldly bliss. Moving between the balearic slow motions, through to more pumped up beaty jams, to atmospheric expanses, we get the full range with D.K. His releases on Antinote do really stick out, from the utterly brilliant ‘Island of Dreams’, to ‘Drop’, alongside ‘Love on Delivery’ and ‘Distant Images’, D.K weaves through all manner of emotive narratives, for the down tempo moments through to the stunning openness of synth heaven. His three releases on the label last year all explored more faster paced styles, that seemlessly fit in with the deep part of the set. And now, we organically arrive at his latest offering, ‘Live At the Edge’. A record that calls back to his joint record with S.K from 2017, the record was recorded live at South Korean venue the Edge, and has all that unrealness and heavy density we come to expect from the man’s releases. When we’re not dripping in emotive waters, we see visions in front of us that are crafted from a beautiful sense of the rhythms of life and the small ripples that dwell in time. So, without further ado, lets get into this.
The first of the tracks, ‘Untitled One’ begins off with the singular moment, the sparse noise that permeates nothingness. Then, the point grows, spouts and multiples, into a throbbing rhythm that sloshes over the crests of deep blue waves under the night sky. The energy remains quietly relentless, bringing towards itself the essences and inter relationships that make up the fabric of nature and life. The tonal work of the synths is everything, really mapping out a energetic and pulsating landscape that we all can become a part of. The track also gives us a sense of the textural journey we are all about to embark on. ‘Untitled 2’ begins, and through its first phases, D.K is looking to switch things up ever so slightly than the first track. Where the opener was all about the introduction of perimeters, here he explores the rules and boundaries of the environments he wants to conjure up. The track feels alive, filled with muted and sparse keys that play colourfully with their surroundings, along with the feeling that everything is trying to tell you a story. The throbbing drum line underneath layers and layers of soft soft flows makes for compelling listening, particularly the opening segment of the track. The chimed key line acts as a sort of benchmark, a harmonic structure that punches through the denseness of sound. Textually the track moves through a series of variations, where crispier tones give way to smooth water like key lines, perhaps like the transition from urban chaos and into natural chaos. The contrasts that exist between the most composed elements and the less structured aspects of the track give it an astounding level of serenity, the smooth fluidity that guides these two aspects only perhaps topped by D.K’s exceptional emotional intelligence in crafting chord progressions. Next comes ‘Untitled 3’, and here the journey flips over towards a more isolated train of thought. The drums set a deep texture, underpinned by the smallest of kicks, shimmering hue cymbals, with percussive kicks moving between these more solid elements, all build up to an experience so enriching. The chords on top reflect that of the beats below, never making anything but the most delicate of touches to the room they reside within. Around the three minute mark, we are introduced to a slight bass thud, that signifies the movement towards new lands. The drums fall away, the bliss becomes enriching, the transition something that is hard to put your finger on exactly what has changed, but something magical surely has. The serenity that we engage with, immersed within, allows for the structures to simply do their thing, and we are all for it.
Up next comes ‘Untitled 4’, and the tones begin in a similar setting and location as before. Except perhaps the intro of a drawn out pad as the main aspect, this then seems to allow for other pads and elements to feed off of it. Morphing from a singular point, along a visible and physical timeline of development, the track opens up beautifully, the beats almost growing out of the pads that proceeded it. The single pad remains, but now it has a lot of friends, joined by clear and crisp drums, and oh wait a minute. This moment feels very special indeed. Additional chords and stabs build on the wave, as the intro of classic D.K sounding horns signify the beginning of a song constructed from a place perhaps only the man himself knows. Its just sheer beauty, sheer fucking beauty. The stabs, feeling organic and rhythmically on it, the rolling drums that keep going on and on, the bass line found somewhere in the depths. It is a special moment, and when listening to the album and this track in its context, you feel that moment hit you really hard, but in all the best ways. D.K here is stretching out his abilities, the ones we know he is capable of, but almost breaking it down via the idea of organically allowing it to happen. We see all the small harmonic additions, the ability to craft something from a single pad and allow for it to keep rolling on and on. This is the one. Next we have ‘Untitled 5’, and we feel that we are moving into the more energetic side of things now. The chords are more chirpy, less washed out and grooved together, the clarity has become more so to perhaps reflect the move away from the blissed out head experience towards one where the smiles run wide and the arms move just a bit. The pulse of the track gets the shoulders moving, the piano working its magic to register on the brain waves and the emotional tendencies. The regularity is a lovely contrast to the blends, where we can become more one with the riddims and grasp at the feels, but its all done through this new lens. The final trip of the night comes in the form of ‘Untitled 6’, and jesus what a journey it has been. The whole album feels like a series of personal progressions, where D.K begins with his organic dubbed out cosmic as hell expressions, before channelling it all into beautifully beatless and hearty composisions that sing so fucking loudly with their meaning and passion. This final cut might be the most clear of all, rounding up the energy found within this record so perfectly, the chiming of the xylophone mirroring the soft hi hats and shimmering bass and dreamy pads going all over the place. This record, wow.
The contents of this slab of wax is quite something. Sonically it touches at all the levels, sweeping us off our feet to other worlds, filled with little moments and transitions that make you wonder about life and the universe and atomspheres. D.K’s purity when it comes to conjuring up moods of complete serenity and joy remain at the highest level, his ability to blend the wholesome with the layered, the grooves forever retaining their pleasant brilliance. Throughout time and space. The soft never hit so hard, what a fucking record.
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