Electric Feels: Your Weekly Electronic Music Recap
The best of the electronic world in the past week, including Mickey Kojak, oscar oscar, JANEVA and more.
EP / ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Mickey Kojak - Surrender EP
Our love for Sydney producer and known Gorillaz fanatic Mickey Kojak hasn't gone unpublicised, with the young beat-maestro copping a mention on the site every time he breathes (or puts out a new single, or another one, or maybe a gorgeous live piano cover?) His new EP Surrender, seemingly arriving out of the blue through Onelove last Friday, is his latest lengthy piece of work and it's quite a shake-up from the typically disco-house-tinged producer, keeping the funky, pulsing productions of his 2016 Alone EP to a minimum in a bid to keep things a little weird and experimental.
In contrast to the bubbly and upbeat Alone, the Surrender EP sees Kojak keep things more relaxed and (at times) more wonky, piecing together soft, moody vocals with building productions which on singles like All That's Left To Care, show barely any resemblance to his former sound. The EP opens with the lush I'm Not The Right One, in which Kojak pens an ode of sorts to RÜFÜS' synth-drenched Innerbloom with an extensive, gradually building synth line which swells in the single's final moments. However, where Innerbloom eventually opens up and breaks down, Kojak instead whisks us away into Watch Me Down, a more traditional house-pop single which pairs Kojak's vocals with a soft synth melody and frenzied high-hats. All That's Left To Care attempts a similar tone to I'm Not The Right One, but instead of leaving us with a teasing anti-climax, the Sydneysider completely switches things up into a witty blend of distorted synth which feels like a dystopian Tetris soundtrack.
Save Your Breath and Ghost are the two singles more reminiscent of Kojak's earlier work – perhaps why he chose to release them as singles prior to the EP's release – with a chittering funk-house line which is abruptly pulled back away for the more indie-rock-flavoured closer Surrender, which combines Kojak's noted influences in jazz, soul and indie for a vast and expansive affair which sort-of feels like a mash between Tame Impala and Radiohead. All up, Surrender is a far stretch from Mickey Kojak's previous work, and while some of the EP's experimentation and attempted-artist-progression works better than others, it's an all-around pretty darn solid release – something which you totally should expect from one of Australia's most technical and talented names in the biz.
SINGLES / REMIXES OF THE WEEK
Darius - Carried Away feat. E^ST
I think it's common knowledge nowadays that the French are the kings of electronic music, something which still holds true even if the mid-00s glory days of Daft Punk, Justice and co. are all long gone. Following in the footsteps of the emerging Petit Biscuit (whose debut album Presence took out our album of the week about a month back) comes another young name in Darius, who last week charmed us brilliantly with Carried Away. Carried Away is a new cut from his forthcoming debut album Utopia, teasing us with its relaxed and lush synth-saturated sound which has a distinctly more moody aural presence than names like Petit Biscuit, but still holds well. It also features the brilliant vocals of Australia's own E^ST, which makes it that little more special for us and the perfect reason to get into the rising name as he proves to be a force in '18.
JANEVA - Humble Beginnings feat. ZenSoFly
We've been receiving bite-sized pieces of Melbourne's JANEVA for much of the past twelve months now, however, mainly through vocal features for names including Dugong Jr and London Topaz. Humble Beginnings is the second non-collaborative single she's released thus far in 2017 (the first being the commanding debut You & I), and it shows us a whole new side of the rising Melbourne singer-songwriter, who enlists ZenSoFly for a dizzying hip-hop-tinged pop single which is full of this unbeatable confident swagger. It starts relatively safe and restrained, with JANEVA's charismatic vocals gliding above a percussive production which boasts a slight hip-hop edge, something that becomes more prevalent with ZenSoFly's unorthodox hip-hop feature. ZenSoFly's input is a touch risky, especially for a radio-marketed, predominately pop artist like JANEVA, however, it works really well with the single's clanging production and doesn't feel too out of place here on Humble Beginnings. Great stuff.
Zuri Akoko - Psyche
Sydney's Zuri Akoko is an artist who seems to just come and go, leaving us little gifts of music before seemingly disappearing back into the studio to work on her next tidbit. Psyche is her latest single and her first in quite a while on the solo production front, showcasing her consistent versatility as a producer and her ability to twist and glitch any established sound and give it her own unique touch. Psyche sees her add her Midas touch to the world of chilled-out garage, with a bustling, percussive instrumental swelling underneath Akoko's relaxed and light vocals. The addition of a summery guitar line mid-way through is like nothing I've ever heard combined with this sound, but it works well. Hell, of course it works well – it's Zuri Akoko doing it after all.
PINES - This Life
Summery synth melodies, a bright vocal line and a profound percussive production – This Life, the latest single from Adelaide-based two-piece PINES, takes on ODESZA's light-hearted and sun-stroked sound and perfects more-so than even ODESZA do. The emerging Australian duo have had somewhat of a wild 2017, playing massive stages (SXSW and Groovin' The Moo particularly) off the back of their inviting break-out Tell Me at the start of this year, and This Life really sums up and ties their year together perfectly. It's light and refreshing – perfect for those festival stages – while also feeling quite complicated with its intricate percussion line and pitched accompanying vocals. Definitely add PINES to your one-to-watch list for 2018, which is sure to be another stunner year as the pairing continue to branch out and release bold electronica.
oscar oscar - HIMEJI
Brisbane's oscar oscar is definitely in the one to watch camp, with the young, continually rising electronic producer keeping us on our toes with a range of diverse and attractive singles – all of which released in the past few months. HIMEJI is his latest and its another slice of gold from the Majestic Casual Records flag-flyer, stacking layers of lush synth work, chiming samples and soft percussion together for a mellow, yet inventive single to cap off his big year. The whistling flutes give it this really Japanese vibe, something which the producer says came from his time in Japan and the inspiration he found there with his host family: "The family was pretty large and there was this little kid I stayed with and every day I’d make an effort to write some music with him there," he says. "Low key, it was a bit of a collaboration because he would always just sing and beat the crap out his toy drum. I’d nick a few rhythms and ideas from him."