In an interview with The Quietus, Nawksh, the moniker for Karachi-based producer Danial Hyatt, says: “My music is a deep-dive into the most difficult, darkest parts of my psyche. There I attempt to befriend the monsters that lurk, and convince them to follow me back out, knowing they’ll dissolve in the light of the Sun.”
After you’ve finished rolling your eyes, take comfort in knowing that the album doesn’t sound anything like as morose and self-indulgent as Hyatt makes it sound. His video game background (he’s a developer) comes through immediately with the intro track Press Start, which samples the 8-bit blips of a games console (I’m not sure which one). Like Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, which begins with the boot up sound of a PlayStation, it sets the scene, at once nostalgic and playful.
But First Friend reverses this immediately. The song churns and spits. There’s the occasional video game sample – listen at 0.14 – but it’s nipped in the bud quickly. It takes on a almost feral quality (perhaps these were the monsters Hyatt was referring to?), like being surrounded by a pack of big angry cats. The song ends with a video game gong, which sounds like the punchline to a joke we’re not quite sure of. This video-game influence doesn’t ever overpower the album, though, and instead Hyatt uses them as little flourishes or transitions.
This video-game influence doesn’t ever overpower the album, though, and instead Hyatt uses them as little flourishes or transitions.
The standout track on the album, Down the Rodent Hole, which I connected with especially because there are currently rats in my house oh god please someone help me I can hear them right now — takes a house beat and puts it through a blender. The structure on the track is fantastic, and it feels like it should be 10-minute long deep house cut. Instead, we get less than two minutes. Not complaining though.
‘Wag’ changes things up. Possibly the most accessible song on the record, Hyatt croons over a thick surf-rocky guitar to the beat of a precise drum. Shoegaze creeps into the song as it reaches a climax. It’s super exciting to hear what Hyatt can do, even when given a less experimental palette.
The final track, Exile and a Mirror, is what we’ve been waiting for: a 12-minute long epic. It’s a journey for sure. Also a little self-indulgent. But that’s fine.