Italian artist K-Conjog first impressed us back in 2012 with Set Your Spirit Freak!, a collection of beatscapes that integrated many elements of ambient and modern composition. He’s now returned with an EP featuring remixes from artists including Pawn, Melodium, and offthesky.
Dasein presents a much subtler side of K-Conjog. The orchestral elements are toned down, the beats are less intense and the ambient levels are amplified. Some of the guest artists fight against this tide, restoring the gloss. At eight minutes, the original version of “Polite Impolite” is a little too long, and it takes half the song to get to the impolite part; but Furtherset goes straight to the marrow with a three minute version, slowing the bpms while pushing the recording levels into the red. In contrast, offthesky takes the dainty drone of the too-short “It’s Impossible For Me To Be Against You” and adds a couple minutes, allowing it to breathe. In each instance, the versions are so different from each other that it’s not a distraction to have them both on the same album. The album highlight, “How to Cure a Hangover in April”, is clearly better in the original version, thanks to a magnificent string finale; Herr Styler adds some upwardly pitched chipmunk vox that seem madly out of place.
Three of the new K-Conjog tracks are presented only in their original versions. Two of these, “Sein” and “Enamanera”, are brief, serving as the opener and closer; “I Come From Mentedey” is a trip-hop piece built on a pleasant loop, and it’s hard to imagine a remix improving it, although the sneaker-on-gym floor sound could be removed. “Querty” and “Thinking About Robin”, standout cuts from Set Your Spirit Freak!, are also remixed here; Melodium emphasizes the piano in the former track, while removing the guitar; Pawn adds vocals to the latter, while reducing the role of the orchestral sounds.
The Pawn track poses the biggest question: where is K-Conjog headed? Vocal or instrumental? Orchestral or piano-based? It seems as if the artist is experimenting with different directions and inviting debate. Most of the remix artists seem to be pushing the artist back to a fuller sound. As the album’s best segments involve strings, this reviewer’s advice is to reinstate the lush textures of the former work on the next new album. Set Your Spirit Freak! succeeded because it wasn’t subtle; we always believe an artist should stick to his strengths and expand from there. (Richard Allen)