dltzk — „Frailty“ (Nov. 12, 2021)
• Oficiální debut mladého digicore producenta a skladatele je strhující: tvarově proměnlivá emo~elektronická nahrávka zní jako nové světy prosakující z digitální propasti.
Location: New Jersey, NY
Album release: Nov. 12, 2021
Record Label: Deadair
01. goldfish 3:01
02. your clothes 4:15
03. misplace 3:54
04. pretender 3:42
05. search party 4:58
06. buzzcut, daisy 2:31
07. movies for guys 5:46
08. kodak moment 6:07
09. can you tell? 3:29
10. how to lie 3:45
11. champ 6:17
12. eyes off the wheel, I’m a star 3:54
13. let’s go home 5:33
by Mano Sundaresan ⌊ Nov. 23, 2021 ⌋ Score: 8.0
• Within the first few moments of “your clothes,” off dltzk’s debut album Frailty, a chugging guitar riff seems to melt down and remold as a synth. Under the hood of its frayed emo and shoegaze, Frailty is full of these small, shimmering details that reveal themselves like Easter eggs in a role~playing game. This is a vast, shapeshifting record that, like its predecessor Teen Week, redefines the parameters of “digicore” by pulling the young New Jersey producer and songwriter’s instincts into new territory. It’s guitar music created by a Skrillex and Porter Robinson [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porter_Robinson ]obsessive, a snowscape of reds and oranges. Inside the more writerly songs, you can sense that producer~brain, the meticulous tinkerer aiming to smack your pleasure centers with critical hits. It’s easily some of the most ambitious work to have sprung from this nascent online scene to date.
• In the world of internet music, histories are scrawled quickly and genres cycle like the seasons. Even though dltzk’s EP Teen Week only came out in February, it’s already been hailed by fans as an important work of digicore — not least because digicore was still searching for a definitive record. You could make the case for a shortlist of essential singles, and maybe 1000 gecs and Bladee’s Icedancer as sacred texts. But Teen Week charted a path forward. It rattled with youthful chaos and argued for digicore as a high~stakes, immersive art form with plenty more ground to cover. Some stretches traded the hard breakbeats for soft, 16~bit passages with pensively sung lyrics about the kind of stuff a Zoomer in high school struggles with: comparing themself to their peers, feeling unwelcome at home, passing days in quarantine staring at a phone.
• Frailty follows the intuition of those slower, more forlorn moments, particularly Teen Week’s grungy outro “seventeen.” Its opening track, “goldfish,” is a “Nikes”~level curveball — pure, no~frills emo that centers dltzk’s vocal. This mode isn’t exactly unique, but it works well with the album’s fuzzy mixing and their writing, which longs for someone through suburban memories of Six Flags and tree forts.
• But thinking about the individual songs on Frailty betrays the album’s form. Frailty functions like a fluid substance and its tracks blur together with seamless transitions. dltzk approaches emo through the lens of EDM and dubstep, evoking the rise~and~fall, deceptive buildups, and stomach~turning drops accompanied by digital explosions and bit~crushed screams. These genres blend into and inform each other in adventurous ways, like the soaring culmination of “search party,” wherein a massive guitar intermittently cuts out like a DJ mashing the volume slider at a rave.
• Despite its somber themes and textures, there’s room to dance on nearly every song. For how serious Teek Week and Frailty come off, dltzk isn’t some doomer teen; their defining moment of the year may be inventing a glorious microgenre of shitposty Jersey club mashups called dariacore. That absurd style creeps in occasionally, like the mini~malfunction in the middle of “kodak moment.” And it’s easy to get lost in the electronic hailstorms that pepper the devastating “movies for guys,” which dunks 2009 Top 40 in liquid nitrogen before abandoning that idea entirely, matching the complicated feelings dltzk has for a crush who won’t accept them for who they are.
• On the flip side, the emo haze of this record shrouds everything in mist. The electronics on the devastating “champ” feel small and cold, a soundtrack to dltzk shivering, lying in the snow. They remind me of the pastoral, Pokémon~like blips and bloops that dltzk toyed with on Teen Week. In fact, between songs like “champ,” “how to lie” and “let’s go home,” a certain listener might find comfort and nostalgia in Frailty’s JRPG coziness.
• Maybe dltzk’s forays into this genre sound staid, even downright bad at times. But Frailty sounds less like cosplay than new worlds seeping out of a digital abyss. Since its emergence from the churn of SoundCloud, digicore has continually faced an ontological question: What exactly is it? Is it a scene? A genre? Is it rap? Hyperpop? With Frailty, dltzk argues that digicore is a methodology, a way of understanding new forms with an existing toolkit. The closest comparison may be Porter Robinson’s 2014 album Worlds, which applied the language of dance music to synth~pop. But where that album was born from exhaustion with festival EDM, Frailty is less cynical. It sounds like a teenager peeking through new doors, uncovering new modes of expression, discovering themself and their sound.