Prior to the release of his guest-heavy full-length Amygdala in 2013, DJ Koze was somewhat of a well-kept secret of the techno world, steadily releasing highly inventive singles, albums, and mixes on labels like Kompakt, Freude am Tanzen, and Buback, in addition to an endless parade of remixes for Battles, Matthew Dear, Caribou, and countless others. Amygdala kept the playfulness and creativity of his past work intact while placing a particular focus on his pop instincts, and was easily his best-received work to date. He received further acclaim for his second remix collection (Reincarnations, Pt. 2), his DJ-Kicks series entry, and Pampa, Vol. 1, an unmixed compilation on his Pampa Records label. Like Amygdala, Knock Knock features an abundance of guest vocalists and a wide selection of styles, ranging from lovesick ballads to hypnotic floor-fillers. This time out, he manages to push his sample manipulations further over the edge than before, with shredded, Mouse on Mars-like vocal mutations popping up all over the place, even on some of the album's most dramatic songs, lending to a very strange dynamic. "Bonfire" is framed around a sample from Bon Iver's "Calgary," which is seemingly mocked by dripping-faucet beats, malfunctioning CD noises, and lumbering, growling bass eruptions. It sounds funny and preposterous, and amazingly, it works. "This Is My Rock" is a woozy trip-hop tune with soul-baring vocals by Sophia Kennedy, which are interrupted by an almost cartoonishly complex amount of vocal samples, including a spirited "Woo!" that punctuates the song's climax several times. "Illumination" features a punchier electro beat and more commanding vocals by Róisín Murphy, while José González and Kurt Wagner guest on some of the album's relatively chilled-out moments. The album's most straightforward club track is "Pick Up," a luscious filter-disco bliss-out on par with any classic late-'90s French house 12", but its bittersweet undercurrent is illuminated by a sample from Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)," a song that was previously extracted by Midland for his summer 2016 festival staple "Final Credits." Koze's hip-hop roots, which he paid tribute to on his DJ-Kicks volume, are explored more thoroughly on tracks such as the comically wobbly "Baby (How Much I LFO You)" and "Lord Knows." Following the fuzz-soaked house track "Seeing Aliens," the album ends with "Drone Me Up, Flashy," wherein the returning Sophia Kennedy sings in heavy German over grainy, floating textures, and at one point seems to crack up over how otherworldly it all is. It couldn't be more appropriate for such an absurdly emotional, innovative album.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson