Dan Kye – Small Moments (Rhythm Section INTL RS036 LP & Digital. Album review by Rosa Sawer)
It’s not every day that one of the most soulful, emotive musicians of the contemporary music scene creates an album of energised, dancefloor beats. But that’s exactly what Dan Kye, aka New-Zealand born, London-residing Jordan Rakei, has achieved.
His debut LP, Small Moments, features eight dynamic tracks that mix electronica, jazz, funk and techno. Recorded with just a laptop, a few live instruments and guest musicians, the album is the result of Rakei’s lockdown experience. It is important to discard any preconceptions of his previous output, because, as his alias would suggest, Small Moments is something entirely new. Rakei explains: “It’s probably my vocal for most people that will tie it all together. However my vocal is much more discrete with Dan Kye.”
As the album goes on a lively journey: vacillating from the immediate, heavy techno beats in Mogeri, to the lyrical and jazz-influenced Sober and then building to the final encore of Raro, listeners are transported to a different space, one of dance and joy.
Rainbow Road, the second track and one of the two singles released early, was named after a Mario Kart map and is influenced by the energy of Prince’s live concert at The Aladdin in Las Vegas in 2002. A comically titled, yet musically inspired song which manages to combine the reality of lockdown (playing video games to pass the time) with a sonically complex track, while paying homage to the master of dance and funk: Prince. “To me the track is really fun. I rarely make ‘fun’ music anymore, so it was a nice outlet to be able to express that side of me! I was able to take my favourite moments of Prince’s concert and bring it to life in my own way. This one was dedicated to him,” says Rakei.
The fifth track, Moving, offers funky samba beats over the top of the high-energy bassline. The sound evokes sunshine and demands the mood be one of happiness and liberation. The song centres around the words “feeling alive”, and this couldn’t be truer of this beat’s spirit.
The Dan Kye moniker was born in 2014, after Rakei got his first taste for house music at a Rhythm Section party on the same day he moved to London. “Rhythm Section INTL was my entry point into dancefloor-orientated music. Dan Kye has still got melodies, but the main focus is to keep it high energy,” says Rakei. Singles have been released under the alias, but this album is the first full-length project which showcases a rounded and complete sound.
Even on slower, more restrained tracks, like Sober and Actually, the album’s inspirited tone continues and seems to manifest so that time seems to elongate. The otherworldly sounds that intertwine with the bassline, such as on Fever, transports the listener out of the everyday and into the extra-terrestrial.
The album will be released on Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section INTL, an eclectic, Peckham-based label which started in 2014 and has worked with artists such as Neue Grafik, Chaos in the CBD and Sampa the Great. It was actually Zero who asked Rakei to make dancefloor-orientated music for playing in the clubs: “The Dan Kye project is a testament to the experimental and independent ethos Jordan lives by and is a product of an artist reaching full stride but who is not afraid to try something new,” says Zero.
Dan Kye’s final crowd-pleaser Raro has a certain emotional pull and is easy to imagine as a nightclub encore for entranced dancers. Drawing on Faithless-inspired sounds, the end of the song and of this musical experience comes too soon. Raro means ‘strange’ and perhaps this word sums up lockdown – a time of strangeness and uncertainty – but at least we still have music to keep us sane.
The fact that, currently, no one can get to a nightclub has not hindered the enthusiasm and energy that goes into this album, a call to dance no matter where or when. I suppose we’ll just have to make do with the kitchen.
Dan Kye’s LP Small Moments will be released on Rhythm Section INTL on 13 November 2020.
LINK: Pre order the album here