Initially begun as a solo recording project of its Toronto, ON-born creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-insrumentalist and producer Daniel Benjamin, Moon King may arguably be best known for the several year period in which Benjamin collaborated with Maddy Wilde (vocals, guitar); but with Wilde’s departure last year, Benjamin has returned to his roots — recording as a solo project. Coincidentally, Benjamin also relocated to Detroit, MI around the same time as Wilde’s departure, and spent that year working and living in the Detroit neighborhood of Hamtramck. .
Benjamin’s stint in Hamtramck inspired a new batch of material, Hamtramck 16, a mixtape that not only documents his arrival into a new, unfamiliar place, it also is a radical change in sonic direction and songwriting approach, as the material on the mixtape captures the Canadian producer, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s growing obsession with electronic dance music. And while in Detroit, Benjamin began collaborating with local artists and musicians, until he formed a new band — with the intention of crafting a sound that currently draws from disco, classic, Detroit house, synth pop — and even pop. Mixtape single “In & Out” found Benjamin pairing his dreamy falsetto with a dance floor-friendly production that channels Nile Rodgers-era Madonna (i.e., “Lucky Star” and “Holiday“), Tom Tom Club (i.e., “Genius of Love“) and Larry Levan-era house as a driving groove is paired with fluttering, shimmering and cascading layers of synths, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor-like beats and a razor sharp hook. And much like the sound and period, Benjamin is drawing from, the song manages to be incredibly accessible; in fact, if it wasn’t for the subtly modern production, the listener may have been tricked into believing that the song may have been released in 1983.
The mixtape’s second and latest single “Ordinary Love” is a much more straightforward production and song as arpeggio bursts of keys, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and swirling electronics are paired with Benjamin’s falsetto vocals — and while seemingly influenced by Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait” and classic house, the song manages to reveal a subtly modern production sheen that nods at Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves and the 100% Silk Records roster.
Directed by Bronwyn Ford, the recently released music video manages to be a spot on ode to late 80s and early 90s dance music videos, as the video features a diverse and eclectic array of club-goers dancing to the club-baning track; and it’s shot on similar grainy video that will briefly trick some viewers into thinking that they’ve stumbled on to some rarely played house music gem.