- Dark0 likes video games. The influence was all over this year's Sin EP, as Angus Finlayson observed. It's even more obvious on Fate, the London producer's stunning follow-up, and another release in Gobstopper's recent hot streak following records by Strict Face and MattWizard.
The two most straightforward examples of this are "Gaia" and "Mako March," each of which taps into a different side of Japanese RPG soundtracks. The former is mournful and contemplative, as 8-bit horns bleat over a bucking trap beat. Dark0's balance is always careful—though his tunes are propulsive and bass-heavy, the rhythm section never upends the majesty of his melodies. The more ominous "Mako March" takes one of the most memorable themes from Final Fantasy VII—booming bells and all—and turns it into a mood piece that moves with the unmistakable stiffness of console music.
The other tracks share that tendency for sing-song melodies, but drape themselves in the slick textures of '80s pop instead. Dark0's synths tend to become the focal point, overshadowing the hissing rhythms below—meaning they're good for headphones. On "Amethyst" the synths are immaculately processed, silky but just a bit fuzzy, floating above the rat-a-tat percussion below. On "Evisu" they're vaporwave-level bright, and closer "2Lips" is almost deliriously cheerful, bringing strings into the fray. Only "Black Rose" is shaded darker, with burnt-out leads that intertwine and unwind. It might be the most traditionally grime track on the EP, but even this one is built with choppy backwards snares, hinting at the abstract tendencies of the Boxed crew but still sounding singular. The idea of mixing video-game melodies with grime isn't anything new, but it sure is unique in Dark0's hands.
03. Black Rose
04. Mako March