ZHU - RINGOS DESERT
If someone out there has attempted to make an electronic popcorn western album before I'd like you to point me in that direction, because this feels wildly new. This new album from ZHU follows in the same vein as his previous EP, diving into some kind of western inspired dance. The album opens with typical western sounds but then slowly shifts into a more techno stance with tacks like "Guilty Love" This song in particular follows the story of a cheating wife telling her lover that she can't see him anymore, all surrounded by this beat that feels adult contemporary at times, highly techno at others. For all the things that ZHU does really well, He often pushes things to one extreme or another and looses some of the things that makes the track great in the first place. "Desert Woman" is a place that He finds the right balance, worming in and out of a big techno track sure to be pumped through huge festival stages, while still maintaining this lonesome wanderer vibe. He often employs these straight from the 80s guitar solo ad libs that feel like they are from an episode of McGyver or something. It's almost the same guitar sound people use when trying to make fun of 80s cop shows, but ZHU uses them without any sense of kitsch what so ever. It just makes this otherwise techno driven record feel a bit off. That is something that ZHU has always done though, not content to be just one thing He always wants to branch out and explore.
"Burn Babylon" is another one of those songs where the saxophone, and the nostalgic vibes all feel so odd and clunky. You are never able to just dip into the vibe with ZHU, He is constantly making sure you are off center even while playing with sounds you are totally familiar with. There are many moments that feel like He is on to something special, but songs like "Save Me" just feel done to death, not only the samples, but the vibes as well. It's almost like ZHU is just finding our about the electropop boom from a few years ago. The spoken word sections also feel far to emotionally loaded for the music they are backing up. Digging into these deep ideas while a corny western theme unfolds in the background sounds like some poor version of a Quentin Tarantino movie. There are very few artists however who could take this kind of risk and make it sound this cohesive. ZHU has to be completented for stretching his legs and going deep on this concept, it just doesn't land as great as He would probably have liked. Still, the record sounds decent and is worth a spin, some tracks may even find their way into your head.
6.9 out of 10