Set, Setting, Tuneage seeks to share the experience of listening to music in our lives rather than the thinking of music in our minds.
I was where I had wanted to be for weeks.
To my left and in front of me was a shallow lake rippling in the afternoon wind. Behind me was Coffee Pot Road, a forest road tracked along the rim of The Flattops in the White National Forest for some 30 or so miles. My love and I had been joyriding along this road for the last couple hours, soaking in the beauty of aspen groves that rolled on for miles, spotting the mountain buttes and shallow canyons in yellows, oranges and reds like an autumn speckled Dalmatian. We were free from responsibility, living the “real” part of our lives one gorgeous second at a time. Our bellies full, our laughs fuller, we decided it was time to mozey back to camp in the car.
I had one thing I wanted to hear: DLZMKSBTS’ the LUCKY tape. It’s always nice to get inside DLZ’s musicsphere and headspace, an ever revolving kaleidoscope of rainy haze rhythms and quick-wit samples, collaged together with a heady grin of creativity. I was curious how the Denver beatmaker’s usual sound of overcast lushness would accent the outdoor pop of color and light we were in. I also knew to trust his vibe, so I let it ride.
“aDay” billowed into the car like liquid syrup, sweet and heavy in the ears as someone waxed “I’m still here bro, my career has only been doing this,” a certain nod to DLZ’s constant and persistent artistry. In then blew up into an elegant boom-bap that rose like iron eagles riding updrafts into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, seemingly finding a nice tiki bar in the sky to relax at, as evidenced by the wavey beat of the proceeding “art4fun” (I only realized afterwards that I listened to the album out of intended sequence, my player arranged it in alphabetical order). I smiled into the blue emptiness above me.
The crunchy funk of “information” got me bobbing to the beat as yellow aspen leaves spindled in the wind by us, with it quickly evaporating in a day dreaming lullaby on the back half of the track. Oh how I love a beat tape in a car, the vibes can change as much as the views do. “MMM” was a “boom for real,” a slow explosion through a tubular groove, like a surfer smoothly busting out a collapsing barrel. The freshness of the sound matched the freshness of the view in front of me of aspen-laced crests and a small lake (I had never been this far on the Coffee Pot loop). I was grateful to be enjoying this time and space. I was living the memories I’d try to piece back together for the rest of my life, catching a vista I’d never be able to replicate.
the LUCKY tape was done in homage to two of DLZ’s friends, Jack and B Money, and how they intertwined together in life and music (Lucky is the dog they shared, featured on the cover). I imagine them smoking and chuckling while making beats, gliding around town with youthful enthusiasm. I was there once with my friends to, late-night drives under the stars as we experienced the first highs of weed and freedom together. I can only believe this record is deeply personal, pulling from those past memories to create a vibe and headspace that matches the bond they once shared; something DLZ can cry, laugh and reminiscence with. He was on his freakum seed on this to raise the freak flag they flew together.
There is a certain melancholic nostalgia that permeates the cellular makeup of the album. The second part of “sugarandsalt” has a wistful metallica that feels like one is alone with the birds somewhere distant. “Support” continues along that existential plane with the depressive opulence of synths and cavernous drums conjuring up the lost feeling that Scarface felt as as blimp reading “Life Is Yours” buzzed overhead, while his world of money, drugs, and women started to crumble into empty despair.
Though I’ll admit that the LUCKY tape certainly has an aesthetic ethos that tracks closer to introspective nights rather than joyriding through the mountains in an afternoon, it was perfect for that moment. There was so much natural beauty around me that at times it felt like I couldn’t quite grasp it all. I could only appreciate the fleeting beauty of this place as each passing day and each leaf that fell was closer to this view being replaced by wintery emptiness. And I was lucky to experience this journey with my love, someone who I find the ultimate comfort and validation in.
In that way, I believe it to be exactly what DLZ’s wanted to commemorate with this tape: a time with people who he felt the utmost comfort in, who he could express his creativity and light with. He was living his “real” life with these dudes, the life he’ll try and piece together in memories and beats everyday he’s breathing on this planet. We’re all lucky to be find people who help us become ourselves and DLZMKSBTS acknowledges that beautifully on the LUCKY tape.