Dazegxd & Quinn: dSX.fm EP

A few years ago, quinn and Dazegxd were key players in digicore, a sprawling internet scene that has lately felt more like a withering quarantine relic. quinn was at the forefront making frantic hyperpop, while Dazegxd produced spectral neon rap beats. Like most of the scene’s main flag-wavers, they’ve since departed the milieu. quinn has lately turned toward messy rap experiments and lo-fi idea-dumps. Dazegxd, meanwhile, has spun his instrumental technique into dreamy, expansive electronic music. Still, their scene was always friends first and this chummy spirit carries through to their collaborative EP dSX.FM, a jolt of hooks, hectic breaks, and astral synths that’s both a tribute to and an update of ’90s electronic music.

Drum ’n’ bass with vocals has been a hot fad since PinkPantheress skyrocketed in 2021, but this record is the work of passionate admirers of the genre, not trendbouncers; in fact it might turn away anyone looking for an easy injection of breakbeat ecstasy. quinn’s vocals are glowing but restrained; she hopscotches the 170 bpm breaks with a fiery coolness, rhyming and repeating her musings on thorny romance and self-assurance until each word gleams. It’s a joy to hear her surf inside these mellow rollers and frenetic typhoons, especially since her last two big albums were subtle and introspective. From ditching vocal music and hyperpop as a way to protect herself from viral fame in early 2021 to her recent streak of restless rap, quinn sounds to be slowly rediscovering the thrill of her kinetic, digitized early music.

quinn’s vocals flash across the mix like headlight beams, and they flutter and mold around the rippling backing tracks. Sometimes her voice splits into multiple layers, while at others it distorts and dissolves in the beat, like on the delirious “dementia footwork” remix of “say so.” Her total immersion in the ambiance gives the music a sweet home-crafted feeling at a time when much recent sing/rap drum ’n’ bass sounds optimized for breakneck intensity or like the breaks were plopped in as an afterthought. The lyrics trend vague, but there are moments of striking sharpness, like her and labelmate saturn’s baleful verses over the juddering medieval beat on “maybach music.”

Dazegxd’s voice is equally clear throughout the EP—it’s just that he’s speaking through his machine. In a recent blog post, Dazegxd described how he takes influence from the West African concept of “talking drums” to contour his breaks around the vocalist’s flow and pepper his beats with call-and-response rhythms. As guest vocalist Af1shawty extends a dreamy invitation on the MON co-produced “wait here,” synth keys dance in the background as if prancing in the street. The closing track ditches recorded vocals for sampled specters that Dazegxd warps and weaves into the symphony: an MC’s feverish shouts lead to an ecstatic bass drop, and a pitch-shifted voice yearns to “let me keep you,” followed by a chorus of sweet chirrups. The maximal quality of the hyper-digital sound and frazzled production finish evokes the in-your-face approach of the most chaotic internet rap. Whereas some zoomer junglists like Nia Archives produce in a more traditional style—tightly refined so you can follow all the moving parts—Dazegxd’s music hits like a big fuzzball of electric emotion.

Dazegxd’s actual voice is only heard during the spoken-word intro and intermission, which frame the tape as a fake radio channel. It wouldn’t be a great station in real life, particularly for a long car ride, since it’s a brief 15 minutes. You can easily envision a more fleshed-out version, one where Dazegxd wrangles other genres into the mix, the song structures transform, and quinn’s verses conjure up memorable scenes to match the sounds. But for now, while digicore fractures and fades into the digital archives, the scene’s soul lives on through the artistic bonds it cultivated.