There’s almost no one who has the emotional language of rhythmic electronic music down better than the one and only DJ Koze. On ‘Knock Knock’, we’re treated to a masterpiece full of stylistic left turns and unexpected guest appearances. He’s rewriting his own musical language, a new guide for the journeymen of the world’s dance floors. This is where Koze turns himself inside out, a face reveal of the highest resolution. He teaches us exactly what it means to be “Koze.” Maybe I was unclear: this is the album he was born to make.
On his new album, Koze explores a more psychedelic, layered sound palette, with each song sounding even richer than his last album, Amygdala. Knock Knock is like taking a bite of a handcrafted dark chocolate bar–equally bitter and sweet at the same time, a perfect blend of rawness and craft.
The influence of hip-hop pokes through on the album more clearly than in the past, manifesting itself most obviously in a track featuring Speech from the underground rap group Arrested Development. Speech makes a smooth appearance on early standout “Colors of Autumn.” Later on towards the end, “Jesus” may or may not sample the beat from Nelly Furtado and Timbaland’s pop smash “Say It Right,” and the inclusion of the similar drum loop adds a fascinating layer to beholding Koze’s wild arsenal of musical references. “Baby (How Much I LFO You)” and “Lord Knows” are masterful J Dilla impressions put through a kaleidoscope, swirling and grooving like a snake with legs.
Indie folk crooner José González even makes an appearance on the twee, charming “Music On My Teeth.” It’s such an innocent, naïve bit of songwriting, convincingly earnest and soft, like a breeze on the ocean. Sophia Kennedy sounds right at home, a voice that could be right from a soul single on album cut “This Is My Rock.” Her appearance is so imperceptible that someone could easily mistake her for part of the sample itself.
"Knock Knock is like taking a bite of a handcrafted dark chocolate bar–equally bitter and sweet at the same time, a perfect blend of rawness and craft."
“Pick Up” is the obvious banger here, a track literally impossible to overplay. The way the song opens up about 50 seconds in is nothing short of a club-fueled revelation. I had the privilege to experience this track at a cookout recently, and by the third minute or so, burgers weren’t the only things that were cooking. Sharing a sample with Midland’s “Final Credits,” it’s a floor-filler for the ages and a song I never want to end.
Róisín Murphy has a couple of deeply rhythmic tracks, “Illumination” being the most piercing, a sizzling frying pan of bouncing drum samples. On the other hand, “Scratch That” feels like a menacing bit of New-York-flavoured beat work. Her presence isn’t as strong as some of the other guests, sounding a bit too deconstructed, but they fit right in where they’re sequenced at on the record, a sort of stylistic palette cleanser.
Despite all of the fun contained on ‘Knock Knock’, there’s an emotional core to it–a youthful magic–looking to the future in the hope that each moment the sun is shining will bring happiness to the world around us. On “Planet Hase,” Mano Le Tough sings with a melancholic lilt over the groovy instrumentation, “circling the sun/better keep movin’/until your race is run.” It sounds like the eager cousin to Portable’s soul-baring “Surrender.” On Kurt Wagner’s unexpected appearance (dude’s a country singer from Nashville!) he sings about fear and the future, with a phosphorescent, moaning saxophone crying out into the night.
The emotions don’t stop there by any means: euphoria is the move on the penultimate “Seeing Aliens”. It’s a magic carpet ride to the Jovian moons, a melodic climax so massive that it couldn’t be titled anything else. “Drone Me Up, Flashy” ends the album with a steady, star-focused heartbeat, flinging us into the infinite night beyond, content to be alive for another day on Spaceship Earth.
‘Knock Knock’ is a kaleidoscope of influence, sampling, and guest appearances. It’s a masterpiece without needing to try (or sound like it’s trying), and that’s arguably Koze’s biggest strength. This could go on to be the record that gets Koze mainstream notice, and I hope he has a smash hit on his hands. If anyone deserves it for over a decade of amazing dance music you can have feelings to, it’s this guy. By the end of the album, the Gladys Knight sample on “Pick Up” comes into sharper relief: “neither one of us/wants to be the first to say goodbye.” I feel lucky to be born in time for Knock Knock.
Knock Knock is available in LP, CD, digital formats plus a limited edition box set, which are all out now, order a vinyl copy on Pampa Records.
1. Club der Ewigkeiten
3. Moving in a liquid (feat. Eddie Fummler)
4. Colors of autumn (feat. Speech of the band Arrested Development)
5. Music on my teeth (feat. José González)
6. This is my rock (feat. Sophia Kennedy)
7. Illumination (feat. Róisín Murphy)
8. Pick up
9. Planet Hase (feat. Mano le tough)
10. Scratch that (feat. Róisín Murphy)
11. Muddy Funster (feat. Kurt Wagner)
12. Baby (how much i LFO you)
14. Lord knows
15. Seeing Aliens
16. Drone me up, Flashy (feat. Sophia Kennedy)