Dro Carey likes to play; whether it be dabbling with drum and bass, grime electro or techno, it seems Carey doesn’t like playing in the same sandbox. When Journey With The Heavy came out on Ramp Recordings, the opener ‘Talk Smak’ was a strange flurry of high hats and mids, with not much regard for a grounding bass line. It’s haphazard and energetic energy was endearing. Then tracks on his Vital Trails EP showed a grimier side to Carey, but they never fully delved into dark and heavy bass tracks, there was always this play between light and dark — an energetic playfulness.
So listening to Dark Zoo is a little odd, there’s some of the old Carey, like ‘Hidden Halls’ which encapsulates the flirtation between light and dark, thumping kicks, warped, acid-like off beats paired with glassy, synthetic melodies. And then there’s radio-ready Carey; ‘Queensberry Rules (Feat. KUČKA)’ and ‘Dark Zoo (Feat. FKL)’. Those tracks put Carey into the pop sandbox; verse and chorus structures, and it comes in just under 4min. If this is Dro Carey’s entrance into pop music, it’s a good one. But nevertheless the track is recognisable Carey; favour over high hats and mids, plus KUČKA’s vocals, which give the track a sex appeal, a tone Carey probably couldn’t deliver otherwise.
‘Signal Mash’ almost sounds like it was written to soundtrack a video game, it’s childlike, geeky synths and predictable key changes make it a dull track. Similarly with ‘Dark Zoo’, the uninspiring vocals, pop structure and make it feel years old and tired. The climax does give the track a catchy energy, but unfortunately it finishes at exactly 4min with not much effect.
But then there’s ‘Grow Lithe’ and the tribal drums, paired with strange synthetic sounds makes the track fresh and the most interesting of the whole EP. It’s a high energy track, there’s no ignoring it, and that’s what Carey does so well. ‘Grow Lithe’ is Carey at his strongest, most comfortable. Even when the beats melt away for a lone synth melody to give the track some breathing room, there’s a palpable energy. And the energy continues with ‘Hidden Halls’, the darkest and final track, and most energetic, it feels like it’s wary of it’s own mortality, there’s the occasional sound of what could be grandfather clocks keeping time. It’s a hasty track and it feels like an odd way to close an EP, especially considering its abrupt finish.
Dark Zoo is an inconsistent EP, it’s enjoyable and unenjoyable for many contrasting reasons, but maybe for an audience that’s looking for radio-ready dance music they can also happen upon in clubs, it’s an ideal EP. We live in a time of inconsistency and flurry, so maybe embracing the rush and exploration of the haphazard is a good, fun way to go about things.
Dark Zoo EP is out now through Soothsayer.