ZHU’s debut was a stand-out, but it proved a frustrating listen. While ingenious in ways, Generationwhy was yoked in other. It felt like experiments thrown at a whiteboard. Whilst RINGOS DESERT PT.1 is no less confounding, in name as in all else, this is a more concise and conceptually substantive project.
There is no obvious single here, nor the confines or structure of a traditional EP (even if he is calling this an album). RINGOS is motivic – drawing from a diverse range of themes and set dressing to produce a varied batch of tunes united only by ZHU’s trademark breathy remoteness.
This is dance music twice-removed, and not intended to be packing out warehouse raves. Think more stormy nights and lonely strolls.
More filmic even then Generationwhy, this EP begins with whistling and spaghettic western riffs on ‘Stormy Love’ – before the familiar bleepy house loops come into focus. However ZHU’s guitar work remains a consistent progression, an instrument he uses to add texture rather than drive the sound.
There are some inspired moments. ‘Guilty Love’, the best of them, lets the instrumental drop-out as we eavesdrop on an adulterers confession. The remaining song is essentially extrapolated from this exchange, the jealousy of a spurned lover rendered in distorted electric riffs and the rasp of canned horns. It’s exhilarating, and the centrepiece of the album.
‘Desert Women’ – the longest tune – shifts gradually, as the sands on the cover, beneath the weight of ever encroaching synth loops, which eventually transform the lush soundscape into a forceful banger.
RINGOS DESERT PT.1 is ambitious, expressive down-tempo house and we cannot wait for PT.2.