The first spoken words on Mizan K’s Dark Blue – “Are you looking for somebody?” arrive at the end of a short sequence of thick, rumbling synthesizers, which, along with a strong keyboard-sounding tone, dominate the opening track’s background. Shortly after we hear her voice, the drums kick in, raising the tempo of the track just as her voice lifts into another tone and another drumbeat materializes. A minute in, the song’s full extent of instrumentation is put in action and Mizan K’s voice, a breathy, powerful thing, is allowed to breathe and the track is at full force. All in all, it’s a smooth affair, and it’s hard to imagine a better way to introduce a listener to what Mizan K is than the opening song of the EP, “Looking For”
All across this 6-track collection, Mizan K exudes slick craftsmanship and confidence, everything is in its place and not a single second of a track is wasted. And there’s energy aplenty; look no further than “No Fool”, in which she stretches out the feelings of clear-eyed acceptance at a relationship that has come to an end as far as her voice can go. Here her tone is airier, as she considers the memories and still-present love she has, but she reiterates the track’s title with a steady register as a gentle reminder, she’s no fool.
My personal favorite is the third track, “Thru”, which has one of the most unique beats I’ve heard someone attempt to sing over. And sing she does, her voice blending in with the marching progression of a drum pad, mixed with what sounds like another heavy synth and some electronic noises that sound like guitar chords, repeatedly cut short. Left on their own, any of these sounds would sound totally devoid of emotion, but the talent of Mizan K is that she draws out the life of what’s around her voice in a direct and effortless way. In many ways, “Thru” is the most soulful song on here, which is an accomplishment with the way the track is set up. In a way, her use of electronic instrumentation reminds me of Ekstasis-era Julia Holter, who could make ambient sound and stilted, disembodied beats sound full of life on songs like “Our Sorrows” and “In the Same Room” by the way she used them around her voice. Of course, both artists are their own, wholly special entities, and Mizan K’s truly incredible technique has kept me returning to this EP for months.
“Anxious” is one of the more muted tracks on here, taking a solemn-sounding piano sequence and steadily building around it. “Awe” is another one of my favorites, with a beautiful melody and some truly quality singing and songwriting by Mizan, whose voice hangs lightly over the melody before an excellent, boom bap-esque beat drops in and gives the song some presence. Honestly, the whole song is a masterpiece. Rounding out the EP is “7 Billion” another piano-heavy track on which Mizan half speaks, half sings as the reverb from the piano keys envelops her voice. And then the 23 minutes of the EP are up, and I’m left checking the internet to see if Mizan K has dropped another release, as the immense talent she has is certainly, fully on display throughout all of Dark Blue.