Album Appreciation: Del Aire by J Zunz

I was absolutely convinced that I had written about the last J Zunz album, ‘Hibiscus’. I remember thinking about it a lot at the time (Summer 2020) but it seems that it became a victim of the fog of lockdown, when the only the local became the familiar… when writing, for me at least, proved difficult… and when what I thought and what I did became strangely separated yet weirdly intertwined. I was certainly an odd time to be creative… although many seem to have managed it pretty well…

This is something that J Zunz (aka Lorena Quintanilla of Lorelle Meets the Obsolete) also seems to have struggled with as, according to the notes on this release, she tried to move on from ’Hibiscus’ trying to extract a “similar, yet fresh strain of emotional complexity” in the midst of a strict self-imposed lockdown.

The results are quite mesmerising as J Zunz delivers a set that never fails to surprise, intrigue, and even uplift. Indeed, there is an inner strength to this music that I am increasingly picking up as I hear it with greater frequency.

The album opens with ’Cruce’ with what could almost be a heartbeat… a sign of life as the music wakes up… it is certainly a beginning of sorts… mystical… etherial… thoughtful… but it soon comes to sound like a lament… a struggle… maybe a sense of waste… whatever it is I find it to be completely absorbing as the slow pace acts as a siren calling you in.

‘Lineal’ maintains what I see as a sense of time passing slowly… nothing happens quickly with this music… it really forces you to slow down and consider the meanings therein… these may well, of course be those of the listener but that’s surely half the point… around two and a half minutes in we see change… something a bit more dynamic comes in… this happens every so often as if we are hit by brief revelations… but always within this mesmeric half-conscious framework which does actually bring back that sense of weird otherness that inhabited much of lockdown.

After that ’Ráfaga’ feels more fragmented… in a sense of being less sure of itself… the disruptive beats and frequent sonic interventions give more of a sense of brokenness before a final breakdown and then silence… it’s very powerful and reminded me that there were different sorts of days back then. This sense of vulnerability is seemingly replaced by a certain positivity in ’Outsides’… as the title suggests it is perhaps a more extrovert sort of number… although only in the context of the album. It is a little more complex and more sure of itself… but also has a sensuality to it that is reminiscent of ’Hibiscus’.

Although ’Nina’ is less complex it seems to have more of an intensity to it… before it ramps up into something which veering into free jazz with its use of brass… it feels unhinged at times… maybe the potential stir craziness of being alone… at any rate it certainly focusses the mind as it breaks out into a sort of longing as it disappears in the distance.

Which brings us to the final track ’Horizonte’… I have realised that I haven’t really mentioned J Zunz voice in this piece at all… it is something that I find both elegant and gossamery… a fragile narrator though these pieces… as listener you feel as if you are being taken somewhere very personal and special… and I always find it to be an honour to listen to someone who does that… for me it’s not even the words themselves but the intonations which add so much to this work… and ‘Horizonte’ is as good an example of this as any… but as the track, and the album, draws to a close… we find ourselves back to a simple drone with a descending melody that somehow seems to be returning us to where we came after an understated yet totally worthwhile journey.

‘Del Aire’ is released by Rocket Recordings



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