The world might be crumbling and the news continues to be terrible, but Den-Mate’s newest album Loceke provides one with a much-needed musical oasis from it all. The musical project of Jules Hale doesn’t ask you to close your eyes or surrender yourself over, but you will anyway because from the moment this record starts, you’re completely pulled in.
For nearly 37 minutes, Hales wanders with you through a hazy, wondrous land of dreams, ideas, heartbreak, questioning, and stunning beauty. Things kick off with the thick, intoxicating whirlwind of “Charlotte,” an spacey, synth-filled opener that hides a mysterious dark side. The track culminates with a finish that practically propels you into another galaxy, leaning only on the sounds of Hales vocalizing and a dose of otherworldly instrumentals. The single serves as only an initial indicator of Hales power as a vocalist. On “Regine,” one can practically feel the romance and tension shared in repeated pleas for the song’s character to draw closer, while the album’s title track (“Loceke”) submerges you in whispered vocals, antiquated instrumentals, tidal waves of keys, and one simple instruction: “Don’t get lost without me.”
Loceke is massive and special, with its pursuit of experimental electronic moments striking you with their innovation and heart. If you have any doubt as to the power of this album, you need only listen to single “Sick.” It’s practically indescribable, as each second is filled with effects, noises, and Hales commandeering it all, her cries cutting through starry keys, thunderous guitar, and an unrelenting torrent of energized instrumentals to find the briefest moment of self-love and hope.
From the ringing, grungy riffs and twinkling synths that accompany Hales’ confessions of “having a hard time” on “Paradise” to a devastatingly gorgeous quest for answers on the looping “Light,” Den-Mate nearly reaches to the end of some far-off galaxy with her marvelous record, and luckily, we can all join her for the exploring.