Nothing good happens in the dead of night, least of all in your own bed. Nevertheless, the allure of midnight has often stood in as a symbol of things obscured by the daylight. Take a look at The Moon in the Rider-Waite tarot deck and you’ll find many things exposed. On either side there’s a domesticated dog and a more feral, coyote-like creature united in their desperate howling. Between them a path is carved in the ground that leads off into the far distance, farther than we can possibly see, across the ocean to the moon’s boughs. In that ocean are two opposing towers, nearly identical in construction and unlike anything else you might see in the deck—they are cold, imposing, and not indicative of any particular time or place. The moon shines brightly as the sun’s rays are obscured behind her.
Nighttime is when all these battles take place: good versus evil, lucidity versus delusion, domestic vulnerability versus carnal desire. These things exist in tandem and often collapse into one another; think of a dream you might have in-between sleep and wakefulness and the fear you feel as your legs dangle from the bed, weighed down by some unseen spirit. During this time you might have strange thoughts that appear at once revelatory and forbidden. When you wake up, you shake them away and forget. It’s daytime now, a simpler time where events are expected. You can ride on auto-pilot in anticipation of the night, when you’ll question, again, how you’ll be spending your alone time.
Hydrakiss (Nick Wiggins) has long explored those feelings. Through the lens of techno and deep house, he’s crafted a uniquely narcotic sonic palette that’s reminiscent of Andy Stott, Massive Attack, and Nicolas Jaar. His latest single, “Soft,” is one of his quietest—it’s a dark ambient track with gentle, muted beats and a twinkling of synth. You’d be hard pressed to find music more sumptuous than this, with a whisper of deep house rhythm to keep us awake and grooving.
“Soft” is Hydrakiss’s lead single from his forthcoming EP, Wired Princess Under Distress. While it’s the quietest moment on the record, it couldn’t be a better introduction to WPUD’s aural world. Adorned with liquid breakbeats and sleepwalking energy, WPUD is all about “running in slow motion while you dream” according to Hydrakiss. In these uncertain times, we’re able to find support where we need it during the day. We can reach out to our loved ones and rely on social media for validation. We can call our best friend or ask for memes in our group chats. But who is there to protect us in our loneliest hours, when we’re up all night fighting insomnia? “Soft” feels like a battle against those dark nights, and handles them with aplomb. Sometimes closing your eyes is the only cure.
Hydrakiss plans to self-release Wired Princess Under Distress on December 4.