The first time I heard dné’s dreamy tunes was in 2008 on Myspace. We were chatting for some time before he moved to my hometown, Prague; I remember his sarcastic sense of humour and the fluffy electronica he was uploading on his profile. Since then, dné has managed to comfortably settle in Prague’s vibrant and independent music scene. He’s been playing shows and releasing EPs and cassettes, which became more and more seldom because of his work on his debut album which ended up in creative crisis. Eventually, he decided to limit the sound palette to piano, hand claps and mellow beats in order to liberate his creative flow. That’s why his debut album These Semi Feelings, There Are Everywhere took five years to make. But it was worth the wait, with two national music awards and over one million Spotify plays.
The half-an-hour-long LP is an intimate soundtrack to your regular days, full of sweet and sophisticated piano compositions - despite dné never really studying musical theory or composition. But dné’s most intriguing qualities are the quietness, casualty and modesty with which he creates music: being based solely on his talent rather than hype. Instead of posting meaningless selfies, he posts about his favourite chocolates and names his song ‘Asos Model Crush’; he embraces the mundane, small moments and situations which, in the world of superlatives, aren’t worth most people’s attention anymore. The acceptance of stable life without emotional ups and downs, the hidden beauty of the ordinary - that’s the overall sensation behind dné’s debut album.
The support band could be no one other than Deaths, a Berlin-based multi-national band whose founder and frontman Igor Bruso is dné’s buddy. They support each other, sometimes performing together and recently starting touring together. Although Deaths have been around for years they rarely put something out, so seeing them live is the only option if you want to get to know their sound. The five piece band played a show shrouded in fog and almost complete darkness, leaving us with the full audio experience. Some of their tracks published on SoundCloud (‘Voices’, ‘Savior’) have a rather club feeling due to the electronic production. Nevertheless, they already contain many advanced musical ideas and experimental playfulness which was enhanced on their show, especially by the drummer.
Igor’s voice has the depth and vibrato of post punk’s singers, but he can tame it in a soothing, emotional way, which he proved already in an opening track ‘Sold’. The band’s new guitarist - with countless guitar pedals - provided a shoegaze feeling, standing still in the corner, playing distorted guitar or adding feedback to breaks in between the songs. Combining live and electronic drums, synthesizers, a sampler, two guitars, a bass guitar and vocals, Deaths found a great balance between wild, intense live energy and an intimate sound - they even clapped their hands in silence, which seemed like a great warm up for dné’s performance.
After the break, dné changed the whole mood and the club got silent for the whole show. dné used MIDI controllers for playing the drums and a MIDI keyboard connected to Ableton. Igor from Deaths joined him for several songs with a blissful smile, playing the electric drums and the guitar. We had a chance to hear the album in its whole, track by track, blending minimalist beats full of claps, fluid piano melodies, acoustic guitar, ambient and chillwave hints, all of it having a strong cinematic feeling, probably also due to the Jon Brion-like open vocals and reversed samples. It was an honest and beautiful performance.
By Zuz Friday | Loose Lips