- First associated with the UK's new grime movement around 2013, Dark0 has spent years piling pathos into his music and borrowing ideas from trance and hardstyle. Fate added regal video game melodies to the mix, while Solace molded trance into bewitching hip-hop and R&B beats á la araabMUZIK. On Oceana, Dark0's latest and his debut for XL, he softens the edges and smudges the dayglo colours for his most sentimental record yet.
The textures here can feel fuzzy, like when tears well up and blur your vision. But the quality makes his music feel bigger, not indistinct—Oceana is cinematic. The EP starts sweet with "Forever," heads through the midsection's rise and fall, and ends with the redemption of "Heal," which wafts like a soothing lullaby next to the rest of the EP's pumped-up drama.
Dark0's sound is almost orchestral at times, especially on the tense, string-heavy "Luka." His rolling trap hi-hats are huge, turning a sound that can often feel like tinny time-keeping into a focal point. There's nothing in Dark0's catalogue like "Forever," which feels as much like an anthem as a line in the sand. You'll either love or hate the chipmunk vocals and sugary synths, but it also has a way of getting stuck in your head. In his review of Solace, Angus Finlayson lamented a lack of vocals to help ground Dark0's music; with the addition of only a few words, the tracks on Oceana are affecting and memorable.