Dark0 – ZERO2 Review

Dark0 paves the way for his upcoming debut album, scheduled for later this year, with ZERO2, a nine track mixtape which adds to the stunning collection of works that Year0001 has released this year, including the compilation RIFT One where Dark0, with “Scrapyard 1v2”, made his first appearance on the Stockholm-based label.

The mixtape is quite dense and heterogeneous. The opening “Oxygenesis”, a flawless summary of Dark0’s latest productions on Xenotype and Oceana, contains both of his timeless trademarks: high-pitched vocals and progressively rising trance synths. Such a combination inevitably leads to some kind of gut-hitting nostalgia mixed with flashback feels that work together to make it potentially the most visceral track. The following “Eye Ignite”, feat. 0comeups, is pretty much patterned on the same model, although the laid-back drum beat controls the whole song by keeping the synths a little bit dimmer. As a result, it’s all more contemplative, chill. “After Years” functions as a nice break. The melancholic pianos slowly flow into a second stream of monumental anthems that prepare the listener to go back to the club dimension.

Indeed, “Hardwire” regains the early texture and develops on looped up-spiraled strands, only whispered over the first minute. This trend continues on “Opia”, feat. Visionist, but the key building blocks change. The synths appear breezy, in net contrast to “Hardwire”’s boomy/bubbly inclination, and the vocals are more moaned vowels. Plus, the drums in “Opia” seem to expand in a trap-like context. “U I C”, then, feels like a sort of minimalist ballad made of far echoing lyrics while the beat works as a soft pop backing. “Lilith” and “Tooly” return to the main focus. The first leaves the impression of some platform game theme tropes, such as chiptune strings, bells and a generally adrenaline-filled atmosphere. The other runs on internal power, proceeding in tiny but frequent stages of crescendos followed by rapid yet delicate drops, everything gently blended with faerie vocals. The last track, “Reverie Eternity”, feat. Malibu, is a rather atypical ambient piece, starting off with far-distant fragments of lyrics fading about halfway through to a lullaby of swinging pianos. We do feel Malibu’s contribution to this; the technical yet simple distillation of sounds, alongside with her innate ability to make us effortlessly dive into her art and empathy are unmistakable.

To a balance-seeking listener (like me), ZERO2 might develop according to a fixed scheme: for every two dance tracks, fairly loyal to Dark0’s tradition, there’s one that’s gladly unexpected and perfectly suited to a desire for complete fruition of the mixtape, with body and mind.

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