In the landscape of electronic music, DJ Koze is a lovable court jester. His music is very refined but ultimately traces back to some sort of joke or jab he’s trying to articulate. His remix albums clearly get at that with the constant “Kosi” lampooning as are his underwhelming and very OK mixes.
The best example of this to me is 2009’s “40 Love.” The song kicked off Kompakt’s Total 10, really asserting Koze’s grasp on both the label and the sound as it is a song that loops a Monica Seles tennis game into a tense, dance stalemate of grunts and ball bounces. It is a seriously excellent listen but, really, it’s also hysterical that Kosi was able to use a neck-in-neck ballgame into four-on-the-floor jammer. Only him.
He still has it in him too, as his new single “XTC” shows. The song is a fairly dark, twinkly bass backed song that spends almost ten minutes building a crescendo to while musing over the drug ecstasy, wondering if its effects are a lie. With a whoozy, slightly slowed (assumedly) found vocal, he contextualizes a song around nurturing the mind. The sample feels correctly out of place, like the song has dizzied you so much to the point that another voice has entered your brain to annotate your high. It retains Koze’s meditative mantras spun through a well aimed philosophical ramble and brief samba tings that try to snap you out of the buzz.
It’s brilliant. Koze still has it, which I vaguely doubted since I had such an unsatisfactory experience with Amygdala since it was so focused on collaborations and vocalists. “XTC” is very much a spiritual successor to “40 Love” in that it tells an emotional story, has a sense of humor, and is an effective techno bang. Thank you, Koze, for being you.