German dance auteur DJ Koze has always had a knack for subtle reinvention, underscoring his electronic productions with a vitality and understated mysticism that has set him a little bit to the left of his contemporaries. 2013’s Amygdala infused sprawling techno with hints of psychedelia and lounge music easiness, and from the two singles we’ve been given so far, ‘Seeing Aliens’ and ‘Illumination’, the producer’s forthcoming LP Knock Knock looks set to carry on the whimsical legacy.
On ‘Illumination’ DJ Koze enlists the help of feature veteran and ex-Moloko vocalist Róisín Murphy, and it is the proximity of her soulful vocals on the track that elevates it above the realm of conventional dance music. Droning synth strains collide with techno beats as her voice weaves its way through the soundscape, bleeding humanity into the mechanical production.
That’s not to say that the music is otherwise harsh or cold – quite the opposite, as the spattering of guitar and hazy throb of synths lend a definite warmth to the sound. Murphy’s contribution is what gives the song its titular illumination though, as she seems to acknowledge on a chopped vocal towards the end: “I need a bit of light here”.
There are moments when the track begins to edge closer to the likes of ‘Groovejet’ or ‘Sing it Back’, but DJ Koze never allows it to collapse into a rehash of early 2000s dance. ‘Illumination’ is bright and fresh, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, trailing off into the ether after a satisfying four and a half minutes.
Image: basic_sounds via. Wikimedia