Markus Schulz’s Dakota alias has rooted itself from the spiritual side from the off. The first and second ‘Thoughts Become Things’ albums were the pathfinders for this new, and possibly most definitive of Dakota projects. These releases were measures deployed to see if electronic music’s citizens were receptive to something deeper. Enter The Nine Skies.
You will not have guessed how the album came about. The Nine Skies’ didn’t occur however until the aftermath of last year’s attack on Florida’s Pulse nightclub. “The final spur in the side”, was how Markus saw it at the time. “All the shit that’s happened after that has really changed things, but somehow that all seemed to start with Pulse. It just devastated me. Shook me to my core. It woke me up to the idea that, in general, we’re not on the right path. I believe to get us back there, to turn things around, anyone who is able has to do their bit. The Nine Skies is me trying to do mine in really the only way I know how”.
Markus has always seen Dakota not just an alias but as a his alter ego – a secret identity. “Sometimes I’m wearing Dakota’s head; other times it’s Markus Schulz’s, he says. Through that division, I’ve found the artistic space to make darker, moodier, deeper music. More exploratory and experimental… if that’s where my current state of mind is taking me. Could Markus Schulz be bipolar?
Markus’ own awakening to compassion for others comes from books. “I started reading, like a lot!” “At home, in hotel lobbies, on flights, in the studio. I’ve always had a desire to make some sense of life. It’s something I share with people that are close to me. We chat about things like dharma, prana – all that stuff. It is how the ‘Skies’ came into being”.
Image: Markus Schulz ponders about his life and others.
If there’s one thing enlightenment does take, it’s time. ”Rarely, if ever, in life does something happen overnight”, he says. The release of the album’s first four singles was designed to reflect one of the possible journey arcs from darkness to enlightenment. That started with early-in-the-album track, ‘Mota Mota’ and ended with its penultimate one, ‘Spirit of the Warrior’. “It arches from one of the most ominous darkly-minded, night-black numbers I’ve written to possibly Dakota’s most uplifting, emancipating moment ever”, says Markus.
The underlying theme of each of the 18 tracks on the album broadly falls into one of the Skies’ nine realms. “That is not something that’s going to be immediately apparent the first time you listen to it. Give it time though, and over subsequent spins I think, you’ll get an ever-greater feel for the transitional passage the album is taking. From Sky.One’s The Follower, transcending right the way over to the ninth Sky: Nirvana.”
Dakota’s extraordinary The Nine Skies LP is now available through Coldharbour Recordings.
01. The Nine Skies Intro
02. Bravo on the Go
03. Follow Me
05. Who Are You
07. Running Up That Hill
08. Eve’s Doorway
11. The Way It Is
12. Cafe Del Mar
13. The Master
15. In Search of Something Better
16. Future Shock
17. The Spirit of the Warrior
18. The Ninth Sky
More info on Markus Schulz, Dakota and ‘The Nine Skies’ available, via the online resources below: