Dark0′s Aural Oceana
Oceana might be the perfect name for the latest EP by the electronic artist Dark0. The four song EP absolutely vibrates with lush electronica for a sound that is as comfortable being the soundtrack for floating through a quiet night or tearing up a dance floor. From start to finish, Oceana joins the electronic pantheon of acts like Astronautica, Gold Panda, Slow Magic, Sasha, and Chromatadata.
The EP starts with arguably its most pop-centric track, “Forever.” The tightly woven tapestry of pitch-shifted vocal melodies unspool with perfect control. But, despite the control, there is still a heat to the arrangement. Under the song’s vocal melodies, synthetic textures come together to create a lush patch work of sound. “Forever” is filled with truly infectious hooks and a sonic magic rare in any type of music.
From there, the EP moves to “Luka.” Flume-esque in its beginnings, “Luka” wastes no time transitioning from a bright arpeggio to a bass-forward, glitched-out drum-led track. Slightly overpowering in the mix, the percussion in “Luka” outshines the vocal work, which lurk a bit in the background for the first half of the song. Then, piercing through the mix, they surface for a moment before being washed over again.
After “Luka,” Oceana wraps up with “Plague” and Healer.” Both songs continue the electronic artist’s trademark sound. That said, the two stretch the continuum between the two tones Dark0 is going for in the EP. “Plague” is dark and brooding, while “Healer” is up-beat and fun. This half of Oceana shifts quickly between tones to finish the EP as strongly as it started. While not as pop-forward as “Forever,” “Plague” is definitely a weird gem on the EP.
While Oceana, overall, is a powerful release, it refuses to move away from Dark0′s established sound. This is not so much a critique as it is an observation. It seems the electronic artist, in this EP, is not focusing on pushing his song writing to new territory, opting instead to perfect the structures he naturally clings to.
And Dark0 definitely comes closer to perfection on Oceana. Compared to his previous work above, Oceana shines with more depth and nuance. The whole EP burns with a larger sound. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that the EP is perfectly named, and it is. Oceana washes over its listener–dangerously for some and serenely for others.
Whether it’s coincidental Stranger Things’ soundtrack and this EP became available at the same time or not, it’s apparent that dark, synthwave is has returned from its hiatus underground. So if you’re already a fan of taut synthetic arrangements or new to the genre, Dark0′s stunning EP, Oceana, is a nearly perfect example of the genre.