What do you get when you splice DIY hyper-pop with the spacey, vocoder-heavy funk of DaftPunk, adding in a dash of wonky Justin Timberlake for good measure? You get the cut-and-paste future pop sound of Zouj. Zouj is the solo project of Adam Abdelkader Lenox, a Leipzig-based French/Moroccan/American multi-instrumentalist and producer who has been making waves on the European DIY hardcore noise scene over the last few years, most notably with his band Lingua Nada. Lenox always experimented with electronics and production on the side, but he decided last year it was time for a new mission; to explore what happens when the organic and digital meld together.
After releasing his acclaimed mixtape Tagat last year, Zouj’s follow-up EP Metal will drop on September 23rd via City Slang Records. Album artwork is by Hamburg-based illustrator and animator Raman Djafari, who most recently animated the music video for Dua Lipa and Elton John’s ‘Cold Heart’.
Tackling subjects as far-ranging as the pitfalls of city living, sleep paralysis, and letting your guard down when you fall in love, Metal opens with lead single ‘Delete after Death‘, which is probably about as mainstream-friendly as Zouj gets; a juicy, bouncy, funk-tinged dancefloor-friendly track asking what should happen to our digital footprint after we die?
The rest of the EP, although still dripping in hooks, showcases Zouj’s ability to break down and play with common song structures, fluidly moving between genres and subverting the usual ideas about what electronic pop should and can do. Highlights include a guest rap spot from multi-instrumentalist, rapper and singer Sahareya on ‘Driving With My Eyes Closed’, the R&B tinged, squelchy organic electro of ‘Metal‘, and the club edit ‘Haram‘, which opens darkly with heavy bass and early junglist sensibilities, segueing seamlessly into driving, guitar-shredding, offbeat sunshine.
Coming in at just shy of twenty minutes long, Metal manages to pack into eight tracks the full spectrum of the wonky cosmos of futuristic sounds we got a taste of with Tagat, but the overall feeling is of something more rounded and developed, without losing the glitchy DIY sensibility that sums up Zouj’s sound. Exploring the spaces where dark and light, analogue and synthetic, catchy and experimental meet, you are not likely to hear a more surreal, genuine and joyful mash up this year.
Metal comes out on 23rd September with both the Tagat and Metal EPs released combined on vinyl, preorder vinyl or digital copies here. Zouj is currently touring Europe, including dates in Brighton, London and Liverpool in early October.
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