DJAO’s self-titled debut release is a stroll through empty alleys in Seattle or somewhere like it, the ground still wet from the last rain and the sky still gray because that’s how it always is. Hands in pockets, hi-tops splashing through puddles, whistling something melancholy and just barely audible. The entire affair is an experiment in drunken astronaut jazz with a particularly faded player leaning on the piano keys, maybe Eno’s Music for Airports jacked on a cold brew coffee intravenous drip. Patterns of subdued juke drums skitter and skip across faraway synth lines from a dream somewhere outside the solar system and play hopscotch with AO’s drippy falsetto crooning as it swells and sways and floats in layers of reverb that turn his voice into another sparkling, shiny instrument for him to play.
Some tracks recall the better moments of Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes but the sounds are cleaner and the swing of it all is less stilted, more a smooth and loping collage of hits from drum machines. For a debut album, it’s incredibly cohesive and another spotlight on the tastemakers of Dropping Gems, the Portland-based label behind the release. Don’t sleep on this for a second even though your eyelids might feel heavier during a listen. It’s dreamy enough as is.
You can hear DJAO below and buy it here.