- DJ Richard channels grim medieval moods on an apocalyptic yet beautiful 55 minutes.
- Dies Iræ, or "Day Of Wrath," is a medieval hymn about the final judgment of man. It's been a part of musical traditions, both religious and secular, for centuries. In setting it as the title of his second album, DJ Richard, now back home in Providence, Rhode Island after a stint in Berlin, brings death and apocalypse to the fore—appropriate for a record that hides under gloom-and-doom like a safety blanket. After the slate-grey house of Grind and the techno-leaning minimalism of Path Of Ruin, the American producer says he is moving away from straight-up house and techno to make the records he really wants to play, inspired by medieval music and visions of mortality. Those are abstract influences on Dies Iræ Xerox, but they add up to a murky mélange of darkly tinted hip-hop, ambient, EBM and house touched by his signature romantic melodies.
Though none of these songs deal explicitly with themes of death, violence or apocalypse, you can discern them buried deep in the music, as grainy and ghostly as the photocopied image implied by the LP's title. DJ Richard's exquisitely sombre moods make the album's hip-hop diversions—"Pitfall" and "Gate Of Roses"—feel slow and syrupy, like Memphis rap dragged to a nihilist lowpoint. "In Broad Daylight" is especially brooding and unfriendly. "Tunnel Stalker" is sluggish, as if it were swimming in a stream of sludge.
DJ Richard has always been adept at creating subtle moods. That's why he's found a home on Dial, a label that deals largely in nuance and restraint. Like the stripped-back tunes on Path Of Ruin, it's the most elementary tracks on Dies Iræ Xerox that make the deepest impression. "Dissolving World" is adrift and uneasy with delicate, almost transparent synths, while "Ancestral Helm" has the romantic cadence of chamber music.
Dies Iræ Xerox covers a lot of ground. Grind was a pitch-perfect Dial album, gently messing with the label's deep house formula. His EPs, meanwhile, have drawn extraordinary feeling from dance music's fundamentals. Dies Iræ Xerox is a pleasure because DJ Richard ventures out of his comfort zone without losing his grip on what makes his music great. It feels diverse but totally cohesive, united by its mournful air and the constant contrast between dark and light. Dies Iræ Xerox is grim, but it's also beautiful.
01. Dies Iræ Xerox
04. Crimson Curve
05. Tunnel Stalker
06. Dissolving World
07. In Broad Daylight
08. Ancestral Helm
09. Final Mercy
10. Ex Aere
11. Old Winter's Way
12. Gate Of Roses