Like all DJ Koze records, “Knock Knock” exists outside of trend and influence. In fact, it’s a step further beyond: absolutely every single thing here, from grooves to voices to handclaps, is otherworldly and unique. Which is not to say it is utterly alien abstraction, mind. There is still disco, there is still soul, there is still techno, there is still hip hop, there is still psychedelia – there are even wafts of easy listening, lost crackly thriftstore record memories and… sort of… indie rock – but though it may sound familiar, it never does what your brain thinks it’s going to do.
Likewise with the voices. More than ever before on Koze’s records, there are fascinating, individualist – and well-known – voices through out “Knock Knock” but again, each of them is rendered strange, drawn into a different reality. Bon Iver’s ghostly hymnals on “Bonfire” are very recognisably Bon Iver, but the way Kosi samples them and they twist and merge with synthetic sounds until choir and computer are writhing around one another in bliss are something else. The ever-unique Róisín Murphy, on two stunning tracks, becomes a cyborg funk diva. Speech from Arrested Development delivers luscious and lazy R&B-funk on “Colors of Autumn”, but Koze’s warping bass, dubwise echo and alien nature sounds take it to an alternate dimension tropical landscape. Kurt Wagner of Lambchop is a vocoder bohemian, Sophia Kennedy is a sci-fi Weimar cabaret star, José Gonzalez a holographic projection from an old film of South Sea Islands… on it goes, nothing is real, everyone is an inhabitant of Koze-world.
And that’s what is crucial here. Koze is a world-maker. You don’t get to chose how you hear his music – you enter his world or you don’t, that’s it. And that’s why individual influences, whether it’s the trippy German techno that’s always rippled through is albums or the beat-scene abstract hip hop that he incorporated into his DJ-Kicks mix in 2015, are all but irrelevant. Though he’d never compare himself to anyone else, Koze only makes sense in the way that other world-builders do, from Bowie to Sun Ra, Outkast to Kate Bush. And “Knock Knock” is far and away his greatest statement of that. It’s an album that came together slowly and steadily, his working processes arcane and mysterious in their steady accumulation of sound and inspiration. It’s so complete and bursting with detail and consistency from every micro-second that you’d swear it was meticulously planned – but there was no masterplan, do desire to create a definitive artefact: the record itself decided when it was ready. And now it is ready, the most perfectly constructed portal into that other world, you had better be ready too!