Published May 01, 2018It's been five years since expert turntablist and genre-blending beat-maker Stefan Kozalla released a DJ Koze album, but his long-players are generally worth the wait, and Knock Knock is no exception. It's perhaps a tad long and unwieldy, but there's no denying Kozalla's skills as a master collagist here.
You know you're in good hands shortly after the album begins, when a breeze of wistful flutes suddenly glides overtop the shifting strings that form the foundation of opener "Club der Ewigkeiten." Although Kozalla uses a mostly digital approach these days, it's clear that many of the samples on hand are from an era before computers, retaining a warm, dusty ambience that envelopes the record.
Indeed, despite the many 21st century programming touches, the world of mid-century soul and R&B is woven deeply into the background of this record, reminding us of Kozalla's love of early hip-hop, which also mined these classic sounds to great effect. It's an affection that comes through as genuine and wholehearted, whether it's the overlapping vocal snatches forming the backdrop to "Baby (how much i LFO you)," or the horns that arrive midway through the Kurt Wagner feature "Muddy Funster." The repetitive string and guitar samples of "Pick Up" are the only potential lapse in judgment here; it has a fun disco vibe, but doesn't do much else with it.
There are also plenty of guest appearances (from Wagner to Róisín Murphy to Speech from the hip-hop group Arrested Development), with Kozalla utilizing their contributions like the seasoned pro he is. That said, many of the album's highlights come in the form of Kozalla's own creations. The previously released "Seeing Aliens," buried toward album's end, still makes an impact, finishing off a solid trio of late-album offerings that also include "Jesus" — a woozy gem — and the invigorating "Lord Knows," with its massive beat and cut-up strings sounding like it was lifted straight from a '90s Funkmaster Flex mix. These solo productions add ballast to an already solid outing; Knock Knock deserves your response. (Pampa)