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DJ Koze: XTC

“Many people are experimenting with the drug ecstasy. I heard you say once that a lie is sweet in the beginning, and bitter in the end. And truth is bitter in the beginning, and sweet in the end. I have been meditating, but I don’t have the experiences people report from the drug ecstasy. Is the drug like the lie, and meditation the truth? Or am I missing something that could really help me?”

There are a range of usual suspects when it comes to the emotions elicited from dance music. Euphoria and ecstasy are the prime examples, but we also often hear nostalgia, aggression, hysteria and introspection evoked by our club sounds. Yet where are the rest of the feelings that populate our internal landscapes? Surely a rich style of music should cater to all experiences. One emotion that isn’t often tackled is uncertainty. It’d be hard to pull of, sure, but it’s a shame to miss it from our music because feelings of uncertainty make up an enormous part of our particular modern existence.

DJ Koze, who’s close to a household name in dance circles, is exactly the kind of adventurous producer who might try to chart such a nebulous, undefinable feeling in his music. Koze gained recognition for his imaginative, playful productions and his reputation as an eclectic selector, yet his fame is only partly down to his deft musical skills. Koze seems allergic to predictability, in subject and sound, sourcing the strangest noises to craft a strain of house that is often so emotionally direct its disarming.

On XTC, his first single in a couple of years, the surprise on the A-side is almost the lack of eccentric flourishes. The only strange thing here is the raucous dog-barks filtered through the outro, but the rest of the track is almost as straight as Koze comes, and refreshing for it. Shards of glassy melody stab repeatedly into the soil, as a beguilingly ambiguous vocal, slowed down to a narcotised drawl, questions the effect of drug-induced euphoria and truth. It’s a little unsettling, a challenge to the drugged-up club crowd (à la Traumprinz), but all the more impressive for it. Over a smooth base of glossy house Koze shows a desire to challenge the listener’s conception of the scene and its chemicals, to ask a question rather than force a message.

On the flip we hear Koze of a warmer vintage, as malfunctioning electronics bleat over an indelibly funky bassline, laying the smooth beside the jagged. Soon the sounds of chopped brass and faulty technology start to intertwine, an exhilarating blend of sources that stops short of chaos thanks to the smart, snappy drum pattern. It’s the most ‘floor-friendly we’ve heard Koze for a while, and paired with the brave A-side this 12” makes for a most welcome return for one of our scene’s most singular producers.

XTC is out now, order a copy from Juno or Pampa Records.


B. Knee On Belly

Discover more about DJ Koze and Pampa Records on Inverted Audio.