In and Out, Daniel Maloso
by Blanca Méndez
When That Song comes on at the club and everyone rushes to the dance floor, happy to be packed in tightly with perfect strangers, all experiencing the high of dance floor camaraderie, it’s magic. But we sometimes forget that the times that dance music isolates you can be just as powerful as when it brings you together. The industrial soundscapes—cold, vacant, metallic—present on much of Daniel Maloso’s In and Out provoke a retreat into oneself that stimulates a full awareness of one’s body, so focused that it’s separate from an awareness of space and time and surroundings. This is dancing on my own music not because there’s no one to dance with, but because no one else exists.
Lead single “Shera” begins ominously, its almost too-long intro like dangling a victim cruelly above the fire. We’re not talking She-Ra: Princess of Power here (I wish!), but something far darker. With the military percussion and chants of “Shera, Shera,” it seems we’re doomed from the start. “They Came At Night” sounds like the title of a story you tell to scare kids, and its funereal synth and eerie whistling would certainly accomplish that. Actually, much of the album could double as ghost tale. The hollow footsteps echoing as if from a distant hallway in “Mamihlapinatapai” still give me the chills, the steady sound of heel-to-hardwood setting off some serious danger signals.
Even the warmer songs on In and Out compel you to remain closed off. The basslines and synths on songs like “Cafe Obscuro” and “Control y Voltaje” might be more open and inviting, but the precision of the loops, the drilling repetitiveness of the percussion is still cold. It’s this precision in repetition that syncs your pulse to the beat, bringing you as close to the music as possible, and taking you as far away from everything else. So, no matter if you’re alone in your bedroom, walking down a busy street, or in the middle of the dance floor, you don’t belong to your surroundings, only to the song and to yourself.
Maloso’s Italo-disco influence is more apparent than ever on this album, but he takes that spacey disco sound and warps it into something starker and more spacious. Every element is neatly compartmentalized, and there’s a meticulous order to everything that can be intimidating. That’s because In and Out is an individualistic work. But the individualism has more to do with an acute state of self-consciousness than with selfishness. This kind of introspective dance music can be overwhelming, but the reward for braving the isolation is unmatched.