We became familiar with Madrid-based producer Antonio Campos de Orellana and his musical work as Hykuu early last year through his remix of Jay Z‘s “Pray.” The majestic sound on the track got translated into a whole EP, A Night In The City, where cloudy pads, shimmering synths, and ambient sounds took center stage.
Now, Hykuu is back with a new EP titled Keep Dreaming, this time released on Seattle imprint Hush Hush Records, a label with a predilection for emotional sounds made by bedroom producers. Hykuu fits the bill, but on this second EP, he ventures more into the unexpected. Want an example? Just play the aptly-titled second track, “Puzzle,” and find yourself surrounded by restless sampling of water drops, guitar strums, synth strings, soda cans opening, a woman laughing… you never know what’s going to happen next, and that’s what makes the song so great.
Also unexpected is the harmony on “Escape to Paradise,” a track with a disorienting change of key and slightly out of tune synths. It ends up sounding like a mix of Balearic sounds, trap, and PC Music, which may seem weird on paper, but actually works pretty well. “NYC” is the one track that sounds directly connected to Hykuu’s past work, bringing back his signature thick fog of sidechain-compressed pads over a hip-hop influenced beat and pitched-up vocal samples.
“Song to Say Goodbye” is perfectly placed as the EP’s closing number, not only because of its title, but because of the nostalgic feel it exudes through its chords and slow rhythm. Even the clinging keys sample makes you feel like someone’s leaving. Hykuu thought about everything for this short release and it comes through, making this a fun but also rewarding listen.