I was preparing some future articles for the blog when I noticed an email had come in. It was a digital press packet. I haven’t seen one of those in a while, not since my days at Dynamic Radio in Rochester. I don’t look back on those days too fondly, but that’s a story for another day. This press kit was under the name Hectic Zeniths. I let the music play…
Artist: Hectic Zeniths
Released: Jan 10th, 2012
Label: self-released via iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp
Format: digital, CD
Genre: trip hop, abstract, cut-up, modern classical
What first struck me about this album is that it’s got depth. It features live and organic violin and piano, something you don’t find too often in modern electronic music, especially when dealing with some sample based music. The opening tracks feature a brilliant mix of this and samples from dustbin records, giving this LP a feeling akin to early DJ Shadow and maybe Kid Koala. That said, it is easy to see why this album has already received such critical acclaim.
Track four is a vibrant mix of classic rock elements, subtle beats and a sense of darkness. It’s a shorter piece, quickly fading to make way to the sweet piano of “I Might Drown,” an upbeat track with a cheerful vocal sample. The use of other vinyl samples makes this piece catchy and almost early Royksopp-esque (For some reason, “Eple” comes to mind), and it makes me oddly happy. I think this track may rank highly on my 2012 playlist.
Rich beats and brilliantly layered samples ring me into the next piece, an instrumental version of “Save Me.” Zeniths’ use of dustbin records and original piano composition is astounding here. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of ways to turn junky records into new and moving pieces of music. This track has a lot of replay value. We quickly move into the interlude “Josie,” which in a way, reminds of the voicemails I used to get from my old high school sweetie, which brought back a flood of bizarre old memories. It’s funny how such a short track can remind you of such things from so long ago.
The later tracks continue the trend, some exploring some new synth pads and others toying more with vibrant piano melodies. The samples are subtle here but detected easily with the volume up or over a good pair of headphones. The closing track is very playful, hinting at elements of indie rock, modern classical and trip hop. This could work as a piece in a film or TV; it is quite charming and well produced.
My only complaints are that some tracks feel shorter than they needed to be. It felt like some of them had some room to grow and progress but rather moved onto the next piece. This isn’t a terrible flaw by any means in terms of the full album; it doesn’t really take away from the overall feel of it. The production skill here is surprisingly advanced and whatever may be lacking here on this release will undoubtedly grow and improve, though honestly it is hard to point out any major issues. Hectic Zeniths may be an artist to keep an eye on.
4 out of 5.
This album will be available on January 10th, 2012 via Hectic Zenith’s Bandcamp as well as iTunes and Amazon. Until then, take a gander at the video for the second track, “Then and Now.”