Malware – [Dirty Bird]

Whenever a certain genre and/or subgenre resurfaces after a long period of absence in the public consciousness, a corresponding “renaissance figure” will always arise with it and carry that sound into its new life. Sometimes this can certainly happen with a group of individuals too, thus creating a “scene” that comes with it; in the case of house music’s grand resurgence back into the public eye as far as this modern online landscape is concerned, there is only one person who can definitively lay claim to that title.

You would have to look a mile past the obvious if Dirty Bird was not the answer to that fact. Continuing off of plenty of projects that further developed this telling mix of house stylistics that range from acid, lo-fi, and even tried and true jazz all the same, he had fully cemented this development with such landmark releases this year as Brainworks and d&db.nfo — the latter of the two being a collaboration with fellow house purveyor and Eldia Records mainstay Dazegxd, and the former being a solo masterpiece from him that has easily gone down as the year’s overall greatest house offering.

Or else it would have, if not for the absolute masterpiece that has just been released in the form of his latest full-length solo venture in Malware. Whereas the aforementioned Brainworks represented the culmination of modern house at its most spotless and flawless level by itself, this new album is essentially those aspects taken to what can only be described as unfathomable levels of progression and influence alike. It is an album that somehow took the idea of “perfect” and elevated it to a new and undefinable reach that is almost too daunting to even comprehend in this current-day setting.

When broken down to its most finite aspects however, one can start to identify the particular details that allowed for this album to transcend its predecessor in the manner that it did. Dirty Bird – being the astute and ever-dynamic musical mind that he is – seemingly took the perfected elements that his last full-length album had in store and infused them with a number of external sounds and influences to create an experience that has certainly never been heard before, and will likely not be matched in its quality alone for quite a long time.

He would come to do this primarily – most obviously, even – through his telling use of features throughout the album’s runtime. Once the dense 11-minute culmination of the first three tracks set the standard for the album to follow, the ever-rising talent in JOON features on “Chrome” and adds such a surprise to this heavily sampled-based project and corresponding genre all the same. But their feature is remarkable in its own right, as the atmospheric instrumental provides the absolute most ideal backdrop for their dramatic and immensely thematic vocals to shine extremely brightly throughout.

Aptly-named “The Fifth Track,” this offering’s exciting yet suspensefully brief runtime sets up what can only be described as the album’s undeniable apex near the middle of its runtime. If any song were to symbolize this entire experience and its collective influence and sheer artistic weight all at the same time, it would undoubtedly be the following “Oh Me, Oh My” — which sees its resounding instrumental unconditionally skyrocketed by the accompanying ICEDOUTOMNITRIX, whose serene, confident, and all-around masterful vocals serve to define one of the most appealing and genuinely flawless single tracks of the entire year, regardless of genre.

And the album fails to come close to letting up from this point onward, and to be quite fair, it certainly did not let up beforehand either. This apex is only a slight increase on an album that only had room to rise just the least bit more past its unreachable status from a collective standpoint. Take the trio of intro tracks at a deeper level for example; “Intrance” is the most ideal intro track to kick off such a momentous release via its hopeful and teasing tones that never seem to fully conclude, and it leads right into the lengthy, yet entirely mind-bending “Touch” which brings together a bevy of samples and external effects that come with them to create one of the most resourceful offerings on the entire album. “Verge’n” essentially accomplishes the same feat to follow, but in a far more upfront and moving manner.

The album winds down with another set of remarkable offerings that all differ from each other in the most seamless and necessary ways imaginable. “Zordland” is a track that has a certain indefinable quality about it that just exudes pure appeal and nostalgia alike, with its rapidly progressing percussion backing up a solemnly sung sample that is richly addictive and gripping listen after listen.

The extremely influential force in Vision4k concludes the album’s group of features, and their performance here is just as outstanding as every single other aspect that this entire album has in store. Their repeated hook works in masterful correspondence with the looping and funky guitar-centric instrumental here, and the final product ends up being one of the most unforgettable tracks from a singular standpoint as a result.

After “I’m Trippin’” offers yet another mind-altering and consonant facet to an album that has already proven itself as immaculate in that light, the entertaining closer “Incoming Transmission” ends the experience off in quite possibly the most fitting manner imaginable. For an album that is so duly reminiscent of past influence as it is in modern tones and themes to conclude with an outro that takes the tried and true “DJ signing off” approach that numerous albums had during house’s heyday – but putting a contemporary feel to it given the accompanying characters’ given voice lines – feels so necessary, so complete, and so sublime.

Those three words – along with just about every single word to describe the idea of “perfect” – apply to this album beyond a shadow of a doubt. Dirty Bird has truly gone above and beyond when it originally seemed as though there was no room to exceed the heights he had already reached. But in dealing with someone as creatively bountiful and definitively learned as he is in all aspects of his artistry, perhaps any and all expectations should be thrown out the window from this point onward.