New Zealand singer/songwriter/producer Baynk returns with a late-night romantic house on "Down."



New Zealand's Baynk has always existed in the contradictions - bright/dark, sharp/dreamy, romantic, aloof, professional/layperson. When Baynk played at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, he was ringed by a frame of blinding white light. When the lights weren't on, Baynk was plunged into near-darkness. It's an apt metaphor for Baynk's music as a whole. On its surface, Baynk's beats and smooth falsetto vocals are as bright, bold, vibrant, and HD as you could please. At its heart, however, it's all about feeling, shade, nuance.

It's an important balance to strike. Too much electronic music is heartless, soulless, without personality. There is no shred of the creator, who might as well be playing Minecraft with drum machines and synthesizers. Not that there's not something to be said for pure craftsmanship, but with so much music out there, you can forgive audiences for finding much of this beats-by-number electronica as sort of forgettable. Yet it's easy to fall too far in the other direction, where it's all about the artist rather than the art, or about some sort of mood over actual substance or execution.

The best electronic music finds a balance between these extremes. The music should be interesting and well-executed enough to withstand the bright white light of scrutiny. But it should also have a heart and a message. It should be saying something.

"Down" is the first single since last year's Someone's II EP. It's some of Baynk's best work yet, while still being in keeping with many of the producer's long-time fascinations. Baynk continues his aquatic fascination, singing about laughing in water and being caught in an undertow. He also retains his fascination with crisp, perfectly-executed trancey house music. Baynk's is assessing all of the pieces of his past and dragging them into the present. It's a good sign of things to come. It's also a fine start to 2020, for Baynk and electronic music in general. Let us hope it's a tease for a proper full-length for the New Zealand producer. We Are: The Guard are waiting, (im)patiently.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.