Amydala is described in its press sheet as Koze's Sgt. Pepper, and there's definitely some truth to that notion. Over its nearly 80-minute runtime, Koze's wide-eyed, kaleidoscopic brand of dance music veers from lush, end-of-night house timbres to pastoral, waltzy electronica. But even with the heavy reliance on guest spots, it's very much the single-minded work of Koze. Unexpected instrumental flourishes abound: brief bits of live bass emerge from moments of retreat, as do squealing horns, spring-like bells, and even what sounds like an un-sampled Marvin Gaye ode.
Opener "Track ID Anyone" slowly evolves from a fuzzy vocal intro through tumbling, minimalistic swirls of sound before Caribou's soft voice enters from the front. Both of Matthew Dear's tracks—the wood-block shuffle of "Magical Boy" and the sample-littered strut of "My Plans"—use the American's well-screened vocals to explore some curious modes of self-examination ("when I'm climbing lemon trees of feeling / time on my hands when I'm running out of faith"). "Homesick" has a hip-hop swagger that's undercut by glinting bells and Ada's gorgeous vocal hook.
Elsewhere, Koze finds time to recline in the idiosyncratic minimalism of yesteryear. "Royal Asscher Cut" stitches strange, off-pitched samples into a whirling bit of house. "Marilyn Whirlwind" combines dark, almost acidic squelches with itchy guitar stretches to form one of the record's few after-dark moments. For my money though, Amygdala's most overtly joyous moment comes on "Das Wort," which begins on a tubby, almost inaudible beat before live bass introduces the track's central chime-like motif. And yet, just as you settle into this sunny little groove, there's that Marvin Gaye nod: "we're all sensitive people / soooo much to give." It's infectious and almost a little too odd, yet it's totally at ease. In other words, it's DJ Koze doing what he's done for well over a decade.