MOИK – LO-FI OM – Album Review

I always tend to get a smorgasbord when it comes to the selection of stuff I listen to.  Like it, love it, or hate it, you know I’m over here checking out whatever comes my way regardless of style, sound, or even experience…I pretty much listen to just about everything under the sun that a person can possibly think of.  And I ain’t gonna lie…sometimes you go through patches & spots where as a reviewer of multiple genres, you drift so far away from what you’d typically listen to by choice that it can practically bring you to tears & have you begging to get back to something that you KNOW you’re gonna love, full-on, 100%, before your ears fold in on themselves and refuse to listen to another track until they know they’re safe.

So thank-you MOИK – you’ve been a rock for me over this past week or so.  I definitely spent a ton of time outside of my comfort zone to the point of being straight-up uncomfortable in some of what I ended up listening to here lately…and to hear something that was finally right up my alley in terms of my own personal taste & what I truly wanna hear like LO-FI OM…I mean…the value is priceless right now.  I needed this record more than you’ll ever know MOИK – this whole album jams with the magic.

That being said…I probably still haven’t been clear ENOUGH for y’all sittin’ in the back…so let me clarify further & shout this out directly – PLEASE BE LIKE MOИK!  This self-described “quarantine beat producer from Los Angeles” is using his time WISELY, that’s facts.  And for a “quarantine beat producer?”  You know what folks?  I didn’t hear a single “oh-here-we-go-again-this-pandemic-has-only-been-raging-for-a-year-and-a-half-time-to-write-another-Covid-tune” type-song at all, despite when they would have been created so clearly.  So to me, not only is MOИK crushin’ it to begin with in a style I particularly dig with his flexible Electro cuts, but he’s not buried so far in the bunker of quarantine that it has taken over his art & music either…and I can’t tell ya just how much I appreciate that.  There are obviously very few extremely positive things that have come out of the Covid-era at all, but you can count MOИK as one.

With a LO-FI OM in the very first seconds, MOИK starts up his DEBUT record with “The Endless Knot.”  Straight off the bat, you can hear the man’s got skills, he’s got ideas, he’s got precision and a genuine understanding of what it takes to make an Electro-based melody sincerely connect, and he gets how to flex his talents with versatility to include an array of sounds to keep ya engaged from start to finish.  To a slight degree, “The Endless Knot” might pale a little in comparison to the rest once you’ve really locked into this set and heard everything else that’s comin’ up in the mix & seem a bit looser in its direction – but as a first impression?  C’mon now folks… MOИK instantly proves he’s ready to mix it up with both structure & sound, and gets all kinds of innovative as he reveals skills in his production alongside the remarkable range of different ideas he puts into this initial cut.  He’s got a great grip on how to use texture & technique to his advantage – and arguably, he also proves he’s unafraid to get a lil’ weird with it at times in terms of some of the melodic patterns he’ll create.  To me, that’s all part of the show here & factors in big-time… MOИK not only proves time & again on LO-FI OM that he can entertain ya in-full, but that he’s willing to pursue combinations of sensory vibes & thought-provoking sound that have the potential to break through to us in a variety of ways.  “The Endless Knot” is kinda like MOИK in first gear & I get that…but not only is his first gear more reliable than most you’ll ever stumble across, it also gives the flow of his debut record an excellent starting point that allows it to go on & build strong from here.

I mean really, the most heartbreaking aspect you’re gonna find about this album merely comes down to the fact that each of these twelve cuts are generally no more than three-minutes in length at max…and if you’re like me, you’ll want a whole lot more of what you’ll hear than that’ll offer ya.  Like hours of it.  But if you’re also like me, you’ve been just savvy & smart enough to locate the repeat button – SO USE THAT amazing tool dear readers, dear listeners, dear friends…and spin this record until you wear some digital grooves in it will ya?  I swear the imprint on my left index finger has started to wear off into a smooth sheen from clickin’ play on LO-FI OM as much as I have this past week…I’ve been clingin’ to this record like it’s been my audible lifeline.  “Complete Me” introduces the vocal samples a bit, and gets the beat kickin’ with a brighter set of vibes that immediately hits the mark.  This is where you’ll find a dude like MOИK heads into terrain you’d find in something like Four Tet…and that’s always gonna be A-OK with yours truly right here.  There’s something so uniquely rad in this type of melodically-driven beat combination that you’ll hear on “Complete Me” that’s as endearing as it is addictive…you go from simply enjoying yourself on that initial spin through a cut like this, only to discover you straight-up NEED it soon afterwards when that second repeat comes around.  “Complete Me” instantly heightens this experience.

“Kamacchanda” is loaded up with smart sound that bounces from the lefts to the rights in a playful & highly entertaining cut that’s even shorter in just topping the two-minute mark, but stellar all-around.  Guy’s got the freedom to do pretty much whatever he wants to with the style he’s rockin’ – MOИK fits right in with the Electro-circuit yes, but he’s also got beats that would be wildly appealing to a whole bunch of emcees out there too.  Essentially, he’s supplying gold bars in advance y’all…you’ll hear it.  Love the samples he’s chosen on this track, and I’m probably even more impressed by how he’s used them & squeezed’em so flawlessly into the mix here, rising & falling in volume, and eventually being switched out for an entirely different set of vocals later on down the road.  At a little over two-minutes in total, “Kamacchanda” pretty much flies right by…so many of these tunes do…but it’s the fact that MOИK has got’em all so expertly designed with the art of the reveal in mind, that from beginning to end, he’ll add in multiple transitions, twists, and turns that make a short time become maximized to its full potential.

Dude’s just got great ideas, there’s really no other way to look at it all, or hear this quite honestly.  You listen to the insightful way he’s mixed a cut like “Mantra” to deliver that low-key mellow sweetness you wanna hear come through in a beat as he gets the piano keys threading in the sincerity & melody with such an impressive jazzy style…and for real y’all – what’s not to love?  The main transition in this cut that occurs on the way into the first minute is absolutely stellar…the sample will echo “lift me up” – and I mean, MOИK just DID that by cruisin’ straight into the sweet melody that comes in to this cut’s second-half.  Was I enjoying it before that?  You bet.  Was I enjoying it more afterwards?  Without question.  MOИK gives you a clear example of what it sounds like to go from good to great here with a single stroke as he flips the script and sends “Mantra” in a completely different direction.  With two decisively different chapters of sound in this story, you might come out feeling like I did where you might dig on one half of it a bit more than the other, but both vibes ultimately serve each other well and play a role.  After setting the stage with a more deconstructed spiritual style and loose design to the first part, it’s like MOИK snaps into his most focused right as he ticks towards the end of that minute one, and from there on in, you’re glidin’ along with the man, surrounded by uplifting sound to supercharge your soul.

I also dig the fact that MOИK has been extremely smart from day one here, and really found a way to get in his sound, his style, and flex what he can bring to the table in that respect – listen to a cut like “Precept5” and you’ll get what I mean right away.  Interestingly enough…he’s almost working with what sounds exactly like Tool’s “Sober” reborn as an Electro tune with a slightly slower pace & chopped up to suit MOИK’s needs in that multi-directional style he’s been rockin.’  As different as it ultimately is, the similarities between this track’s meaty sound and the breakthrough Tool single are as clear as day to me, nearly to the point where I’d almost advise some caution to the man if I didn’t just want to TURN THIS UP to the freakin’ rafters all the time.  So I won’t say anything.  I’ma keep quiet about it all and not say a word more about any potential comparisons on this cut, and I’m gonna be just fine letting “Precept5” rock my world & shake my neighbors walls every time it comes on.  Arguably it’s the most aggressive sound you’ll find on LO-FI OM, even though it’s still moving at an extremely chilled-out pace; “Precept5” has serious teeth to it and hard-hitting sonic depth that ranges from the beastly rumble of the low-end to the frequencies that float & dance along the surface.  I dunno y’all…call me crazy, but MOИK’s kinda like, really crushin’ it here ain’t he?  “Precept5” is all-out deadly and sounds like you’ve found your way to that moment right before the end-level boss comes out…just after you’ve pieced together what side of the Matrix you’ve really been standing on all along.  I’d imagine most people out there probably wouldn’t make that Tool tie-in or comparison when they listen…which is cool & fine with me…I think that the fact it’s so well disguised & has shape-shifted in sound so much that it speaks strongly on behalf of the original point I was making about how MOИK put his own stamp & identity into all of these cuts.

“Parasoul” radiates welcoming sound right from the drop and puts the spark back into LO-FI OM.  In my heart of hearts, I’m all about “Precept5” – that’s 100% my kind of jam for sure – but EVERY time “Parasoul” came on again during my tours through this record, it felt like this brighter-melodic approach you’ll find from MOИK seemed almost even more addictive, if not outright charming as music can be.  He works in the Hip-Hop flavor & vibes right on the money when he wants to flex his musical muscle in that direction, and this cut would be as solid of an example as any you’ll find where he reveals this gear in the mix on LO-FI OM.  MOИK keeps the set flowing with noteworthy transitions between styles & sounds, finding himself a sweet-spot that’s nestled somewhere in between the realms of acts like Four Tet or producers like DJ Shadow…maybe a lot less scratches & a little more Hip-Hop flavor in here; but as far as my ears are concerned, there’s plenty of room for MOИK to slide right into the Electro-based scene, with material that could easily secure him a devoted & loyal fan-base for years to come.  Vibrant stuff on the whole when it comes right down to it – “Parasoul” makes smart use of sound from the front to the back, and never seems to quit displaying more versatility to its main idea as it plays on, while still locking onto a core vibe that guides it along in the melody without losing it, or us in the process.  The man knows his production and how to get the most out of the sounds he’s using, where to fit’em in so that we really get to appreciate just how much is being added into these cuts, and marvel at the guy’s talent for assembling the final product we’re jammin’ out loud through our speakers.  For a debut, you gotta give credit where credit is due – production-wise, MOИK is already firing off at an all-star level.

Listen to the smart drum beats & the sincerity of the melody you’ll find on “Enso” as it begins – amazing.  I mean, obviously listen to the WHOLE song, because it’ll remain incredible, but you get what I mean – MOИK wastes no time…if anything, we can all praise the short track lengths for that very reason.  He doesn’t spend a single second off-duty when it comes to these tunes, and makes sure that each moment we hear is loaded with textures, tones, samples, and beats that connect.  We’re as engaged as we are entertained when we listen to LO-FI OM, that’s what’s real – tracks like “Enso” prove that in-full as MOИK flexes sound that’s just as endearing as it is interesting.  It really becomes tough to choose an ultimate favorite from a lineup like this that’s so consistently strong…but like any of you, I still have my moments where I know I’m really listening to something that connects with me 10% more than the rest – and “Enso” is quite likely the best example of that I can give ya.  There’s a ton of great tracks on this record and none I’d ever even dream of skipping over, but the genuinely heartfelt melody that guides “Enso” seemed to powerfully authentic and real and moving and…and…and…I mean, it’s just awesome.  If you’ve got functioning ears, or at least one of’em…you’ll hear it for yourself…”Enso” is beyond words and a fantastic example of MOИK at his most focused, controlled, and in the moment – you feel the weight of this cut and know it all belongs, and yet we still have every opportunity to experience his innovative & insightful style at work as well.  MOИK’s been extremely clever when it comes to the mix & design of his cuts…you’ll never find anything overstuffed or overloaded…the quality of his ideas and in his production both deserve serious shout-outs, and it’s tracks like “Enso” that supply every reason why.

You won’t find too many cuts where vocals become the dominant trait on LO-FI OM, but there are a few along the way that make more use of’em, like the samples that fuel “Three Poisons.”  I’ll say this…I’m not opposed to it in the slightest…and I felt like here on a debut, you gotta give the man some freedom to roam to the fringes to find out exactly what he’s capable of with the skills he’s got at this early point in his career – adding vocal samples more prevalently to “Three Poisons” is further proof he’s got more tools in his arsenal that he can draw from to add even more versatility in the mix, and that he can do it RIGHT.  Does he need’em?  That might be more debatable I suppose…it’s much harder to say & likely something that each individual listener out there will draw to their own conclusions on; personally I felt like I was more likely to gravitate to the tracks where they weren’t the most prevalent part of the song, but again, it ain’t like I’m sayin’ I wasn’t 100% satisfied here with “Three Poisons” either, ya feel me?  When it comes to the music, MOИK always has it locked down tight as tight can be – and with respect to that, “Three Poisons” is by far among his most innovative & imaginative designs – it’s outright insightful when it comes to how this cut has been put together and the choices he’s made as to what sounds to use & how to use’em…resulting in another solid & diverse cut that boasts unique sounds from all angles.

Another spectacular cut on this record that always stood out to me was “Mudra” – the depth in this cut is a straight-up experience in itself y’all.  It’s MOИK at his most chilled-out & slick, and reveals a stellar example of how to give a track everything it needs & not an ounce more.  With a haunting chanting that’s laced into the background and sparkling sound over top, you get all kinds of incredible contrast at work here from the lefts to the rights, and a selection of vibes that range from curious to mysterious & all the way back again.  With a hint of that jazziness that’ll keep your head noddin’ with the beat, “Mudra” is subtly PHAT, and delivers a completely different experience to diversify LO-FI OM even more.  I found myself fully stuck on this cut for all the right reasons…there’s just such a badass groove at the core of “Mudra” that is THICC with two Cs, and almost can’t help but catch your attention through the murk of its mysterious vibes.  You add in the crystal clarity & sound movin’ from one side to the other, the clever samples that show up, especially the vocals that contain the title itself – and I mean, it’s a full recipe for material that really stands out bold, no matter how subtle or down-tempo an idea might be.

Are we gonna let this guy get away with calling a cut “Intermission” when it’s basically only seconds shorter in length than every other cut on this record?  MOИK!  My man.  This is just another excellent track homie…why you gotta go suggesting to folks it’s time to get up and microwave some popcorn yo?  Obviously I’m kidding…but if you DID get up to take a moment for whatever reason, sit your ass back down!  “Intermission” is admittedly a fairly static cut in the sense that the vibe you get is the one you’ll rock with the duration more or less, but never underestimate the power & pull of a track that has the right kind of quality & sound we wanna hear.  Even if it were to be much more repetitive, which it’s really not at all in this less-than two-minute length, there’s a mesmerizing & hypnotic thread that ties this cut together perfectly & completely & as tight as tight can be.  I’m not gettin’ up to go ANYWHERE MOИK – “Intermission” or not, I’m sittin’ right here in my chair, and I’m listening, undivided attention.

As far as I can tell, he’s got this record set up to flow as fluidly as superhumanly possible, loaded with enticing sound that immediately pulls you into every tune – and you’ll certainly find that’s the case as he heads towards the ending of LO-FI OM with the longest cut on the record, “Lotus,” weighing-in at 3:03, and still just roughly shy of the other four hours I’d happily sit & listen to it for in a single spin.  He’s got the melody sparkling on the surface, texture laced into the production if you’re listening close, and unique ideas here in his patterns & structure that keep this cut shining bright, yet layered with emotion.  STRONG beat in this gentle cut he’s rocking with…and as subtle as “Lotus” may appear, it’s still loaded up with rivaling intensity.  Ultimately I felt like I could never choose what I like more about this cut as to whether it was the main melody line or the outstanding mix & sound he got outta the drums here – but thankfully it’s not like I gotta choose at all, MOИK gives us all this awesomeness to enjoy in one dose.  “Lotus” felt like a crystalized & captivating moment that was designed to hold up over time; and MOИK doesn’t over-play the fragment of extra time by any means…he keeps it tight, professional, & on-point.

“H(OM)E” – I see what you did there MOИK.  He’s keepin’ it relevantly faded for this final cut, drifting us out on atmospheric vibes and a subtle infusion of low-end bass.  It’s a rad cut to go out on – and quite honestly, it’s that brilliant swell of the low-end that actually steals the show, whether you realize it or not.  The facts are that there are so many more dominant & shiny sounds that are on the surface that are bound to catch your attention first…to the point where you almost don’t realize that the slick & sly groove at the core of this track is what’s had ya movin’ all along.  Almost like a musical version of a magician’s sleight of hand, we’re focused on what’s closest to us, while in behind the scenes, MOИK has been in control the whole time, showing us that what lies underneath it all, reveals the real magic taking place…which we can see & hear at every moment, if we’re really paying attention.  Smooth notes to go out on here, “H(OM)E” wraps up this debut with a stellar conclusion that’s as equally chill as it is inspired – it’s mellow yes, but the production alone will tell ya there’s an intense focus applied by MOИK every time he’s ready to push record.  He’s absolutely delivered throughout this entire set of songs without question – for a debut it’s remarkable for sure – but make no mistake, it’s a record you’d be more than happy to have created even years into a music-career, and all the confirmation the man behind the studio boards should need to hear from himself to know that making music, is right where he’s meant to be.  I’m here for it, 100% – MOИK has fully got the vibe, and better yet, he’s willing to share it with us.

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