Dapayk & Padberg
Sweet Nothings / WAS Distribution
Opposites attract: that’s perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when listening to Niklas Worgt and Eva Padberg’s new album, Sweet Nothings. The pair, better known as Dapayk & Padberg, join the Stil vor Talent family for their third full-length effort, a natural decision after the success of Dapayk’s recent The Little Things You Do and Let Go EPs. Similar to their previous LP oeuvre, as well as Dapayk’s solo work, one is simply astonished by the diversity, intertextuality, coherence and playfulness of the end result, something that must be attributed to the experienced duo’s wide-ranging set of influences. Work on the LP commenced two years ago and stretched across several continents. From the beach on Bali, via Miami, Los Angeles, Berlin and a ski chalet in the Austrian Alps, stunning and remote locations were to be the spectacular backdrop for Dapayk & Padberg’s creative process. Thus, one encounters soft and harsh sound textures, dark and light images, sonic euphoria and sadness as well as lyrics of love and loss throughout the tour de force that is Sweet Nothings.
Things kick off with the trippy ‘Too Lazy’, a brooding afterhours number, which is equal parts paranoid and mesmerising as a wonky bass vibrates under dubbed out pads, eerie synths and vocal whispers. A bold move by Dapayk & Padberg as artists of lesser confidence might have opted for a lighter opener. Next, ‘Play’ immediately delivers the antidote however, reversing the evening’s proceedings back to the peak time. A housey beat pushes through muffled crowd noises and is backed up by a vocal repeatedly urging us to ‘play it out / play it loud’. The real strike of genius is the quirky piano here, which wouldn’t be out of place on Berlin’s most notorious dancefloor. On title track ‘Sweet Nothings’, Dapayk & Padberg’s sound takes another turn, presenting us with a deep but forceful groover, whose distorted high-hats and trancey synth stabs create a vibe both euphoric and weirdly subdued. The lyrics, moreover, emphasise the duality at the core of the album as Padberg ponders ‘you’re good for me – you’re bad for me’.
Moving on, ‘Fluffy Clouds’ does quite the opposite to what its title suggests – rather than being a soft little piece, we are treated to big-room techno fodder a la Berghain. A skeletal framework of heavy kicks, dark pads, white noise and dense metallics works relentlessly underneath a cold spoken word, proclaiming ‘not human, not animal – just a body in motion’. Machine funk par excellence. Next up, ‘Endless Game’ leaves the four by four rhythm behind in favour of a broken beat structure. A shuddering bass and affectless vocal reminds of The Knife’s wonderfully weird moments, which is always a good thing. ‘The Sun Came Up’ rounds off the mechanical triplet with a pumping beat and robotic vocals, while a progressive synth lead helps along the track’s love lyrics, turning this into a truly stunning moment at the album’s heart.
With the sharp glockenspiel and old-school hip-hop beat of ‘Razorskit’, Dapayk & Padberg crafted a short interlude to cleanse the palate, before the gear is shifted once more on ‘Berlin Summer Nights’. Anthem alert: classic rave sounds of epic proportions glide through an arrangement of bouncy beats, crisp percussive work and hopeful vocals until a powerful breakdown delivers the hands-in-the-air moment. Continuing seamlessly, the vocals on ‘Take These Scissors’ again nod to Karin Dreijer Andersson, which is further underpinned by the playful and airy arrangement of weird sounds that bare an Asian twist.
Showing another of the duo’s many facets, ‘Backyard’ enchants thanks to mystical lyrics sung beautifully over a deep quasi-dubstep structure. Marking Sweet Nothings final wind down, the atmospheric song shines through intricately crafted fragility and is the perfect contrast to the previous two tracks. ‘Continental Drift’ is similarly confident as Padberg’s sexy vocals compliment a slow, fat beat and progressive pads. Finishing off the LP, ‘Driveby Beauty’ offers a final surprise by speeding things up once more: ambient soundscapes float over organic beats, while classic vocal house motifs are left to work their magic effortlessly. All that is left once the last notes play out, is an intense longing for more, as one realises how deeply emotive and versatile a journey Dapayk & Padberg have blessed us with.