Rather than compare it too much to his previous projects, I wanted to listen to this new album from D.Ni.L purely as a fan. Having done that, twice now – I urge you to do the same, or at least approach it as the finely crafted, professional and likely hit release that it is. D.Ni.L has categorically found his sound and outdone himself with this collection.
2018 has seen a notable rise in the fusion of rock and rap, not always to effective results but of course this is entirely subjective and comes down to personal preference. For me, this particular combination of genres – as found throughout Do You Know Who I Am? – feels complete as its own thing. Bringing through elements of heavy metal and hip hop alike, feeling briefly inspired by Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, you quickly come to hear this purely as D.Ni.L. The album is melodic and passionate, perfectly well produced, consistently interesting and honest. From the opening weight, style and rhythm of Analogue Bath, through the delicately haunting tones and poetry of Buried, you’ve already fallen deep under the spell of the sound.
As well as offering something for dispirited music fans to escape within or to share a sense of togetherness among, Do You Know Who I Am? offers plenty of the personal touch that we saw over on Boy. Inside. Feelings is the first moment at which this really shines through; a melodic, almost punk-pop piece of music and writing, within which the writer reveals his inner emotions and thoughts on the world around him. I thought that sex was love, I thought that love was belonging.
Forever follows with an even gentler mood and a heartbreakingly poignant performance, letting you feel a real connection to the artist as he pours his soul into the moment. There’s a less obvious nature to the writing on this project – it feels mature, poetic and thoughtful in some profound new way. Not needing to spell everything out – D.Ni.L utilizes a few key ideas and dives into them head first; exploring each sentiment and story in a complex and fascinating way. Let The Side Down brings the rap edge back and exemplifies this point. The personal touch meets with an accessible vagueness that’s likely to let listeners feel this is something of an anthem for their own experiences – which is precisely what we so often turn to music for.
Melt brings the first half of the album to a mighty finish with heavy metal screams and a contrastingly delicate, almost whispered verse section. It’s rare that you see eclecticism work so brilliantly within a single project. This feels like a best-of or collaborative playlist. The arrangement seems perfect in terms of the journey the album in full takes you on.
During the latter half, Nod is a musical highlight with its infectious leading riff and a brilliantly organic, creative drum-line. The song’s melodic hook and concept also captivate effectively. Running sees the artist present an ambient, dreamlike soundscape and a calming performance – followed by more of that hard-rock warmth; a moment that bursts onto the scene with wonderfully immersive weight. D.Ni.L’s singing voice is superb here. Again, you can lose yourself in the song – the lyrics delve into the deeper states of consciousness, thoughts that often consume; it makes you feel less alone.
Sweet Man adds an edge of indie-rock grit, the structure is fantastic – you’re reminded of the days of the creative album, when alternative bands reigned festival stages across the globe. Top and Bottom Of It follows and leads with brilliant guitar work and a minimalist yet compelling string of lyrics, gradually gathering momentum. Under My Wing follows and the sound of the guitar alongside of that electronic beat is gorgeously entrancing. This became a personal favourite, the melody and the ideas rain down in an addictive way.
Way Back Down ends the album, an acoustic ambiance – simple and well suited to the quiet expression and the descriptive story-line. The softness of the soundscape lets the artist and his words really stand tall at the final hurdle, so you’re reminded of the person and the reality behind it all. The sudden rise in intensity later magnifies this effect. A striking way to finish what is easily one of the best and most original, well written albums of 2018. The future of music sounds exciting.