- Epic, tears-in-the-club anthems.
- Last summer, Dark0 released his long-awaited mixtape—and precursor to this debut album—ZERO2. It took a more ambient tack than before, leaning on delicate piano melodies and orchestral arrangements more than the grime sounds and Boxed-ready club constructions of Dark0's past. The result? Exquisite electronic music built to make your soul move first and your body later.
Across the nine tracks on his debut album, Eternity, Dark0 binds fantastical themes like destiny and fate with human emotions (love, nostalgia, hopefulness, loneliness) that make me think of the Portuguese term saudade. It refers to an intense and melancholic longing, the kind that burrows itself deep within your chest and can be tricky to shift. In his 1912 book In Portugal, scholar Aubrey Bell describes saudade as "a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present." This is an appropriate description of the rush of emotions felt while engaging with Dark0's work past and present, be it his euphoric epics or his subtler compositions.
Eternity was written with themes like "eternal friendship" and "kinship" in mind. "The album is dedicated to friendship circles and the people who get you through tough times, who share your vision and support you in your struggle, your grief," says Dark0 in the album's notes.
This dedication is expressed both sonically and visually. Dark0 celebrates closeness and deeply rooted bonds with frequent collaborator Malibu, who lends sweet, siren-like vocals to his music. And he works with his close friends Sybil Montet (a digital artist) and Conor Chignoli (illustrator), who created an array of characters, sketches and three-dimensional visuals to accompany Eternity.
The album opens with pummelling drums and soaring, high-pitched vocals (courtesy of fellow YEAR0001 artist Merely) that swoop in and out like a message carried on the wind. "Eternity" is one of the heavier, more typically Dark0-sounding tracks, followed by "zeroGen" and "Infinite Edge," which find a middle ground between weightless transcendence and Dark0's hard-hitting style of melodic club music.
Dark0 gets more introspective on wispier tracks like "Nova Bridge" and "Promise," both of which align with this new, more forgiving side to his work. It's a side that relies just as much on the trancey progressions and earworm melodies that define much of his older output, but sounds softer around the edges, catering more to home-listening situations than breathless moments of dance floor ecstasy.
Vocal tracks, like "Eternity," "Wait For Me" and "Shining Star"—a romantic ballad turned hardcore-ish anthem that might make you shed a tear and fist-pump at the same time—are personal highlights. They represent a leap forward for an artist whose work usually focused on instrumental prowess. It's a risk that pays off: "Shining Star" might just be my favourite track of 2021 so far.
In my review of ZERO2, I ventured that the project was "a taste of what's to come," as Dark0 continued to break new ground and experiment with newfangled influences, vocal features and beatless bangers. The statement held true: Eternity inhabits the same space as ZERO2. But it offers what ZERO2, on reflection, only really teased. The album has a strong thematic focus that holds these bright, brilliant ideas together, a focus that guides Dark0 and his pals towards their most confident and creatively charged work yet. This is music that blends the epic and intangible with the intimate and sentimental.
03. Infinite Edge
04. Nova Bridge
05. Shining Star
06. Born From Decay
08. Wait For Me