Mar 2024 31

Album CoverZanias
Album: Chrysalis / Ecdysis
Category: Electronic / Alternative
Label: Metropolis Records
Release Date: 2023-05-01 / 2024-02-16
Author: Merv Uzzell (Muzz79)


 

By her own admission, Zoè Zanias – a.k.a Alison Lewis – has stretched herself very thin over the past year, between collaborations, DJing, touring, and running her Fleisch Records label. We also saw her signing with Metropolis Records for the launch of two Zanias albums a mere nine months apart. Her light as a solo artist has kept shining brighter and brighter since she first released Into the All back in 2018, and as her music has evolved over the years, much has changed on both a personal level and an artistic one. With that said, you’d beg to argue that both are one of the same thing.

In her third solo album, Chrysalis, she continues to weave her life story into her art. It’s a journey that chronicles her rebirth, transformation, and self-rediscovery after times of personal tragedy and heartache. The darkly textured aesthetics of “Metrics” opens the door to those times of vulnerability, as heard in lyrics like “Am I winning enough to deserve the space I take up? Am I giving enough to deserve to even wake up?” Its foreboding narrative is cloaked by a fog of celestial pop ambience and majestic dance rhythms as Lewis’ luxurious ethereal tones illuminate, subsumed into the darkness. The punchy beat driven “Closed” has her feeling more clarity, singing “Everyone’s pretending to care / Everyone’s pretending that no one is there / All I know is everything’s clear from here.” Her words echo into the sparse, resonant waves of warm floating synths. The real gateway to her depth is her ability to translate raw emotion with such fluidity, that it’s as if she’s a mere conduit for the music that pours forth, and this is no more so than on the sensuous implosion of “Burial,” a seductive shimmering canvas of plush sweeping synths cascaded over the track’s pumping heartbeat, anchored by the impassioned vocals. It’s arguably the album’s apotheosis. A close second is the spirit-soaring title track “Chrysalis,” that majestically blends a natural soundscape over reverb soaked acoustic guitars and lush orchestral synths with her weightless angelic vocals. Nothing feels overdressed on Chrysalis, yet it’s rich with little details that make the whole thing feel alive. It’s often the record’s simplicity that showcases Lewis’ new confidence as a songwriter.

Album CoverEcdysis bookmarks a significant shift in expression since her rebirth on Chrysalis, a new vibrant stage in her artistic evolution. It leaps forward beyond safe, familiar territory, blending the intuitive with the unknown. Gone are lyrical narratives in place of improvised primordial vocalizations that haunt the album’s cybernetic labyrinth. We begin with the resonant muted beats of “Earthborn,” a soothing hypnosis of drones and glitches that move effortlessly through its palatial atmosphere. The soundscapes often take on a malleable quality, meticulous yet free flowing – it feels remarkably natural and deliberate all at once. Much of the soul of the album revolves around its psychosomatic engagement with the natural world, much of it recorded in the rainforests of Queensland, Australia. “Acacia” in particular has that humid claustrophobic essence; its lethargic tempo feels like you’re trudging through thick dense tropical undergrowth. Ecdysis is mostly a meditative affair with slow pulsing rhythms, and beautifully layered and moody synths in an immersive dreamlike abyss, but the dark trance vibes of “Duneskipper” ignite with more pace as Lewis’ erratic glitching vocal samples only add to the soaring texture. You would be hard-pressed to peg Ecdysis into a singular subgenre of electronic music. It does invoke more modern vibes of the likes of otherworldly Belgian bass duo Ganja White Night, Canadian DJ and producer Rezz, as well as the more classic brushstrokes of Enya, and German world beat band Enigma. Zanias’ constant metamorphosis is a fascinating one, and it’s exciting to wonder what her next manifestation will be.
 
Track list:
Chrysalis

  1. Simulation
  2. Metrics
  3. Burial
  4. Lovelife
  5. Closing
  6. Teatree
  7. Departure
  8. Chrysalis

 
Ecdysis

  1. Earthborn
  2. Mara
  3. Duneskipper
  4. Acacia
  5. Bloodwood
  6. Habenula
  7. Swim
  8. Ecdysis

 
Zanias
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram
Fleisch Records
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram
Metropolis Records
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram

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