As He is known to do Australian producer ZHU has released a new record ahead of his world tour. ZHU never one to rest on his laurels has taken new steps on this album to make it more complex and somewhat harness the "desert" vibe that the title suggests. Earlier this year He released a song with Tame Impala called "My Life" and it was not the ZHU we are used to, nor was it the Tame Impala, but the blend of the two really seemed to work. This album doesn't imitate that sound, seemingly at all, and instead blends progressive house, R&B and other elements into a distinctly ZHU sound. Even in the more tech centric moments ZHU is still able to pull these really analogue feeling elements out of his work. You never feel overwhelmed by the "electronic-ness" of the thing and elements like electric guitar and saxophone always manage to ground it in these tangible sounds. The second track 'Still Want U" sounds almost like Glass Animals are behind the mic but it actually ends up being Karnaval Blues, not a disappointment, just a sort of "damn I wish it was Glass Animals" kind of thing. RINGOS IN THE DESERT PT.1 is the first part of a series of records coming from ZHU which are trying to capture different areas of the world through progressive house. It feels like the long forgotten album for each one of the 50 States that Sufjan Stevens proposed years ago that never really came to fruition. However what is interesting here is ZHU is bringing a lot of himself into these tracks while trying to encapsulate the area. "Desert Woman" is straight tech house, yet you can still feel the sand whipping around you as the song goes on.

There are three or four tracks in the middle of the record that you get absolutely lost in. They perfectly capture ZHU's hypnotic style but before you can even look up you've blasted through these tracks and are left alone at the end. The more pop focused songs like "Save Me" can feel a bit generic and it is when ZHU really dives deep on the house elements that the songs really shine. This record is an interesting one for his upcoming tour because it departs from the laser fueled atmosphere that He is known for. It could mean different visuals, new mixes and a different ZHU than we have seen before which could be something truly amazing. The spoken word section about a cheating wife breaking it off with her lover sticking with her husband on "Guilty Love" fits the title but feels really forced and awkward. You do get the sense pretty quickly that this album is part of a greater whole; it does not feel like this closes the book on the whole story and there is going to be more to explore. RINGOS IN THE DESERT PT.1 on it's own is still a really solid record with some great starting points, we'll just have to wait and see where ZHU takes us next.

7.8 out of 10


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