Into The All
The musical trail Zanias has blazed for herself in the past few years feels just as wide-ranging as her relocations from Australia to Malaysia to England to Germany. Between Linea Aspera, Keluar, and her own solo career she’s worked within all manner of dark styles new and classic, and in curating the stellar releases from Berlin’s Fleisch cliq she’s earned a rep as a modern techno maven of no small stature. But even with that resume Into The All feels like an audacious leap forward. A sharp departure from the dark techno heavy To The Core 2016 EP, Zanias’ first solo LP circles back to plenty of the sounds she’s managed to explore in a comparatively brief spate of releases, but also finds her pushing forward with vocally and compositionally ambitious material.
Into The All begins with a suite of three sweeping tracks both ethereal and bombastic: “Uroboros”, “Division”, and “Syzygy”. The shifting gossamer pads, sublimated techno beats, and poly-rhythmic acoustic percussion which make up these tracks – part Dead Can Dance, part Berghain, part Graeme Revell – would be enough to mark a sea change in Zanias’ work on their own. But it’s in her soaring vocal delivery, emerging out of sample beds and whipping about between rhythmic barrages that Zanias ushers in a new understanding of her work. Yes, her vocals were always highlights of her past releases, but those performances were often in keeping with the diktats of coldwave and minimal synth, and didn’t afford the free reign exploited here.
Those grandiose pieces only make the earthy tracks which follow them feel more direct in context. The warm electro-synth bounce of “Atrophy” connotes a cozy nostalgia, while the consciously lo-fi and compressed synths of “Idoru” directly recall Keluar. But even there, the track is shot through with murky darkwave grinds (perhaps bringing to mind the tensions between technique and discord similarly tested out by fellow Berlin expat Lynette Cerezo of Bestial Mouths).
That Into The All contains samples taken from the natural environs of Zanias’ former homelands seems appropriate. Just as the record borrows from and hybridizes her musical past, so too does it borrow from her personal past. But these return voyages are shaped by difference, not repetition, and synthesis only opens new dialectics. Zanias has made an impressive foray into uncanny territory with Into The All, both familiar and alien. Recommended.