At 19 years old, Karman released his debut EP 2005 Forever out of nowhere in late December of 2013. A young beatmaker from Beverly Hills, Karman makes melancholic dance music, or better yet, “devotional dance” as described on his bandcamp. 2005 Forever takes the misery of loneliness in the internet age and gives it rhythmic optimism.
Stream: Karman – Cry4Us
Many of Karman’s songs come with a sense of urgency–lots of layering and harmonies assault the ears tenderly between depressing sound-clips regarding suicide. No song is more saddening than the intro track, which features samples of a news broadcast covering a story about a teenager streaming his own suicide online over sorrowful strings and glitchy modulation. The good news is there’s only hope from here. 2005 Forever reverts back to its sad tendencies throughout the EP but the production is so upbeat and dance-worthy that the listener nearly ignores the gloom spread across the EP’s 8 songs. In terms of Karman’s peers, 2005 Forever sounds like a mix between the pop tendencies of Friendzone and the eeriness of Shlohmo (who are both coincidentally from California too).
Stream: Karman – Ur All I Want
While sharing similar aesthetics to Yung Lean’s sadboys movement in terms of visual cues, it also features a remix from sadboys crew member Yung Sherman; who’s responsible for some of the most intriguing & innovative production of 2013. Karman is “sadboys-does-dance”. Lead single “Cry 4 Us” weaves a sample of a timid woman as the beat drops saying, “I deal with kids who are, um, suicidal” with all its synths in full force, while “Ur All I Want” features a sample of Drake contemplatively responding to a question in an interview repeatedly saying, “ I feel like, uh…” as a house track kicks in with soaring synths. The range is wide here with Karman. The song “Embrace” even drops a couple of lines from Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” out of nowhere yet it fits in with the despair perfectly as Weezy’s voice is mutated into this deep, goblin-like growl. One of the EP’s highlights, “Long Distance”, is a song that starts with an uptempo pulsing beat that’s relentless til the very end. There’s techno build-ups over X-Files synths swirling around as the skittering vocals provide some lineage from start to finish. Similarly, “Gone” begins with a mellow chipmunk sample but evolves into a full-out dance track based around these notes. The song that truly summarizes the sound of Karman is “Ceremony”, which breeds the sound of a Facebook notification message throughout its development as it grows to be increasingly uplifting alongside an odd sample of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back”. (It is not recommended to listen to this song with Facebook open in one of your tabs). Out of the deep depths of the internet, Karman has constructed an aesthetic–both visually & sonically, that makes his music undeniably exciting and refreshing.
Stream: Karman – ‘Ceremony’