A certain downtempo strain of electronic music feels dark and insidious. Shuffling breakbeats over minor synth progressions and fragmented samples is the eerie stuff of nightmares. But this Friday, Portland producer t0k4 will send a set of spectral tracks out into the bright July sunlight. His album, Naga, contains eight complexly-layered compositions which, despite the season, will cause a shiver.
In mid-2000's Britain, "hauntology" gained traction within circles of electronic musicians. Experimentalists working in this subgenre began to sample vintage snippets to evoke cultural memory. Often times, these samples were muffled or crackled, giving them a ghostly air, and set beneath echoing beats. Think Burial. And though this popular trend eventually began to fade, it is still flickering today. Just last fall, Klein's excellent track, Claim It, felt cut from the same haunted cloth as Burial (listen below). It is in this vein that we find t0k4's Naga.
Opening track Gutter Light begins with a shimmering glint before deep bass kicks in. Those opening notes only tease a bright path ahead before the music spirals downward into shadow. Halfway through the album, however, Neon Burn builds to a maximalist crescendo, lifting upward for a moment. But the best track is the finale, When Will U Dream. Here, it feels as if t0k4 is carrying the listener in and out of consciousness, floating along with them through hallucinatory visions.
As a whole, Naga works very well, and is an impressive release, bringing a little chill to summer. The album will be out this Friday (July 3rd), and until then, feel free to check out t0k4's other releases on his Bandcamp page. But really, make sure to sit with Naga from start to finish on the third. It's a good one.