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Album Review: DJ Koze - Knock Knock


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DJ Koze is renowned for his experimental electronic style. His past albums, remixes and even full-length DJ mixes have shown his vast capability for seamlessly mixing in samples and styles including disco, minimal techno, dream pop and hip-hop. 

Stefan Kozalla is the sort of artist who does not feel the need to recreate the fashionable music of the moment. He focusses his creative powers on building moments of enticing melancholy and displays them in 7.1 surround sound bursting with synesthetic colours.  Knock Knock is Koze’s first full-length album in almost five years. As with all of Koze’s creative endeavours the album has gone down a storm, a true success.

The mystical land that the German producer creates features a variety of vocalists such as José González, Eddie Fummler, Kurt Wagner, Róisín Murphy, Speech from the 90s hip-hop band Arrested Development and even a name from his own label, Sophia Kennedy.  Somehow Koze has managed to faithfully incorporate each vocalist’s individual and varying style whilst still creating a cohesive album. ‘Music on My teeth’ is a beautifully, wholesome, well-formed representation of José González’s music, the chords are just as recognisable as the voice, and yet it still holds true to the electronic medium of the album. Speech features in ‘Colours of Autumn’, a throwback tune to the 90s hip-hop scene with dotted rhythms and chilled out rap, there’s even a moment when the theremin features. 

Not only features but samples add to this album’s intensely growing journey. ‘Bonfire’ uses a sample of Justin Vernon’s vocals in Bon Iver’s ‘Calgary’ so well, that it could be contested that Koze has done a better job at merging techno with Bon Iver’s original hits than Bon Iver themselves. Koze marries the vocals perfectly with his delicate, mystical and water like electronic effects. The highlight of the album has to be said to be the masterful disco track ‘Pick Up’. The soulful beauty exemplifies Koze’s talent for sampling as he takes instrumental and vocal cuts from both Gladys Knight & the Pips ‘Neither One Of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)’ and Melba Moore’s ‘Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance’. The chords from the latter song being the most noticeable disco element. The entire songs even harks back to Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’. This track has certainly taken the place of the best electronic disco track released this year and I doubt its title will be usurped any time soon.

Throughout the album, Koze throws in references to a wide array of musical styles and genres. Street music takes its turn in both true recreation and simply evocative terms.  For example, the panpipe addition in ‘Club Der Ewigkeiten’ and the percussion timbre in ‘Baby’ create a busking resonance in the music, adding another layer to Koze’s artful creation. A particular favourite moment of mine is the beginning of the entire album which Koze rather cheekily introduces with an overwhelmingly sweet Disney-esque strings section. A rather creepy moment takes place at the end of ‘Planet Haze’ where 'He’s got the whole world in his hands' is sung evoking feelings of childhood lullabies alongside horror film children. 

Almost every single song in the album follows the ideal electronic arrangement but Koze adds to this by beginning many songs purely with the genre often decided by his feature artist.  Some songs even feature electronic styles iconic of other artists, for example, Jai Paul’s low, pulsing, underwater effect is referenced in ‘Baby’ and ‘Bonfire’. Another favourite moment of mine is the choice of recording quality used for the piano in ‘This Is my Rock’ which gives the entire track a crackly vintage feeling, cemented with the soulful harmonies. 

Clearly, DJ Koze has lived up to the expectations of his fans and hopefully gained more through his unforgivingly, unfashionable, original and masterful piece of art. Knock Knock is a milestone for electronic music that is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon. 


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