DJ Koze Credit: Courtesy of Pampa Records

A 2018 XLR8R profile of German producer Stefan Kozalla, aka DJ Koze, mentioned his predilection for telling the press that when he was a child his parents had left him in a Marrakesh forest with just an Akai MPC. It’s a totally batshit yarn, but it provides an illuminating way to approach his music. His third album, May’s Knock Knock (Pampa), meanders through the woods of pop music’s past, gathering its wildest roots, most beautiful flora, and squiggliest fauna and merging them into a kaleidoscope of sound. At first it may seem like Koze’s blips and burps of bold rap, tender psych, erratic techno, and outre pop would be impossible to fit together, but he makes it work—even when the music gets so mellow it seems like it’s on the verge of collapsing. On “Music on My Teeth,” dour folkie José González sings atop a swirling, twinkling rainbow of psych-guitar melody, and on “Muddy Funster,” Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner melancholically intones along with a cosmic synth drone. Koze has long made music with a punklike flair for disruption, starting with his 90s hip-hop group Fischmob (which helped build the foundation for Germany’s hip-hop community), and these days he continues to challenge what we should expect from popular music. I’ve heard a few critics say they expect genres will be obsolete within 20 years, and instead everything new will just be considered “pop.” When the time comes, I hope it will resemble the spirit—and maybe even the sound—of Knock Knock.   v