Over a year has passed since the release of MALAKAI’s Saros, an ambitious and exploratory EP that set the standard for future productions from this sonic sage. Since then, he has compulsively honed in on his signature tones and high-fidelity synthesis textures, stirring and broiling his choice ingredients and audio engineering education into a perfect fusion. One result is Milieux, a matured collection of melody-driven compositions that puts MALAKAI squarely on par with the fidelity-driven cornerstone producers of the modern age.
Milieux is remarkable for its richly-colored atmospheres and instrumental dialogue. The balance of clarity in the mix coupled with sufficient textural evolution and tonal layering is paramount to the MALAKAI musical vision, and he enacts said vision with the confidence of an auditory Philippe Petit. His righteous pursuit of pure aural experiences has brought out the best of his abilities to date, and while arrangement has always been a particular strong suit for MALAKAI, his translation and interpretation of musical language has become his most striking characteristic.
The opening track “Appa”, for example, is as aloof and playful as its namesake bison companion; a collaborative piece created with Smigonaut, the composition follows a crescendoed dance of supple warps and counter tones that gradually evolve into a mist of low-frequency oscillations. In a similar display of MALAKAI’s familiar percussive melodies, “Prunes” is a delicious, pitted groove that shuffles between anchoring bass lines and warm plucks that bounce around the upper registers. While his note choice and tonal dialogue are the backbones of his compositional structure, his use of stereo depth is the life that he breathes into his music. “Ubuntu” features an arrangement soaked in reverb and meticulously crafted to make the most of spacial dynamics, resulting in an appropriately airy track that rises and falls with the available frequency space from measure to measure. Bringing an energetic end to the EP is a particularly rusty collaboration with 5AM titled “What’s Matter”, a symphonic, orchestral finale to this four-part auditory adventure. Developing along a minor melody that sings through the speakers like angels at the gates, the track blasts headfirst into an emotive explosion of the largest synthesis featured on the EP, serving as a reminder that all is not always so subtle and spatially humble with MALAKAI’s musical vision.
In conjunction with the exposition of his highest musical watermark to date, MALAKAI is primed to take the stage this coming Saturday at Tipper’s highly anticipated three-night King’s Theatre run. In the short time between now and then, Milieux is available through the venerable Street Ritual on all major music platforms, primed and ready to emulsify in eager eardrums. While you’re not sleeping ‘til Brooklyn, don’t sleep on getting intimate with the musical mechanications of this atmospheric pioneer.