Dark0 Oceana XL Recordings
Looking back across Dark0’s relatively short discography — he’s released EPs with Visionist’s then Lost Codes (now Codes), Mr Mitch’s Gobstopper Records and Rinse — it seems difficult to believe that his music, so vividly emotional but conversely, so ruthless and cut-throat, took as long as it did to find a home at XL.
Now label-mates with close friend MssingNo, an artist whose influence can be felt on the sugary chiptune romance of new EP opener Forever, Dark0’s work feels justifiably elevated on Oceana. Rather than a collection of tracks, this is an EP bound by core themes of love, heartbreak and ultimately, retribution — they might not be unusual reference points in his music, but here the message is hammered home, loud and clear.
Following Forever is the glorious Luka, a euphoric, orchestral synth trip that doesn’t let up, growing only more intense and with every loop, before third track Plague cuts through any remaining giddiness like a knife through butter. He clearly wants to make a point, and quite abruptly too, as the mournful key notes that define the opening 45 seconds would suggest, although it’s the prickly layers of dark, contorted synth lines and demonic, razor-like stabs that momentarily shroud the EP in shadow. Plague might feel like the one track on the EP that Dark0 has done before — see unreleased track Scyther — but in the context of retribution, it works a treat.
As if to cleanse, final track Heal then delivers as a beautifully effective digestif, with swirling melodies and hushed, blurry vocals offering serenity and respite from the emotions Dark0 seems happy to wear on his sleeve throughout Oceana.