OTM readers who’ve been with the blog for at least a few months have already met the talented and insightful 2020k, aka RJ Kozain. A fellow music blogger, audio engineer and skilled artist, 2020k swung by the proverbial office and chatted about his recent show and EP. A second show now in the books, 2020k has released the EP on Bandcamp for all to enjoy.
In my recent review of Passion Pit, I noted that electronic music had only recently registered again on my radar, and 2020k is a huge influence within that shift. His work and insights have reminded me of what I loved about electronic and ambient music in my mid-teens. Dwelling in an electronic landscape between chillout and Trent Reznor, 2020k delivers a four-track glimpse into his world. Allow me to give you a guided tour.
Contagion: The almost sinister opening of Contagion evokes memories of HAL’s “Extremis” (aka, that tune Gillian Anderson guested on, complete with sexy music video action). From start to finish, “Contagion” never lets up, a sonic predator stalking listeners from the shadows and encouraging paranoia. A commentary on social isolation, at least in my pessimistic mind, this is one of my favourites.
Pantomime: By definition, pantomime refers to dramatic entertainment through the use of exaggerated gesture and music. Purely instrumental, “Pantomime” evokes a swaying dance – a waltz gone wrong – with its rise and fall melody. Almost evoking a false sense of security within its softer moments, bursts of sonic gesture keep the listener guessing.
Closed Cases: The opening of “Closed Cases”, with its little “ping!” noises, for want of classier terminology, reminds me of an ascending elevator in an icy office tower with walls of glass. Decidedly low-key, there is again a sense of predator and prey within the song, particularly in the repeating numbers. Maybe it’s a result of living in a post-Lost world; perhaps it’s the sense of that office tower and the people within it as numbers. Whatever the reason, “Closed Cases” is pleasantly unnerving.
Slightest Touch (2020k Remix): Closing out the EP is a remix of Roy Hessels’ “Slightest Touch”. For me, the best way to interpret a remix is to study the source material, and thus I wandered over to Soundcloud to spin the original tune. While both tracks are fairly chillout, the original is heavier in percussive sounds, whereas the 2020k mix opts for delicate piano and an almost breathy, ethereal feel – truly a “slight touch”. Lovely.
Final Comments: Having the advantage of years of familiarity with 2020k’s work, I can safely tell you that the EP does precisely what introductory releases should do: a) demonstrate the range of a musician/artist; and b) be compelling, top quality tracks from the catalogue. 2020k is electronic music for the reluctant electronic listener, made more accessible by a keen attention to evocation and contemplation. “Contagion” and “Closed Cases” are particularly strong.
Final Grade: A