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A. S. Swanski – Zafari

Opening with the cosmic swirls of ‘Safari’, Zafari kicks off with a strong sense of self awareness and understanding.

a4020785794_10Samples of children singing always add a certain creepiness to music, and here it is no exception. Add to that the forward facing military style drumrolls and creaky, distorted krautrock vocals that nod towards Rammstein and Alec Empire, it becomes clear very early on that this is music that requires a certain degree of intentional engagement on the part of the listener.

things begin to rupture, with siren like wails that seem to want to pick a fight

It’s cerebral stuff, for sure, and yet carries with it a deep thoughtfulness in its creativity. ‘Traum’ takes a more sedate approach, with long piano notes, and a wheezing, scratchy synth that wriggles and jangles as if run through a ring modulator. Eventually things begin to rupture, with siren like wails that seem to want to pick a fight with the otherwise tranquil piano and softer atmosphere.

‘Rauschwetter’ squelches and splutters its hectic vocals and ominously throbbing bass drones

‘Hartland’ makes use of familiar chord sequences and adds in some real creativity with unusual notes along the way, and ups the fear factor with its synthy choir sounds that burst in and out of appearance like a band of musical ghosts. As the album progresses, ‘Rauschwetter’ squelches and splutters its hectic vocals and ominously throbbing bass drones, while the very live sounding drums clatter away in the background, with their cymbals spreading widely across the sonic landscape, eventually making way for the fearmongering introduction of ‘WW’. The track gradually evolves into a curious blend of a single mindedly straightforward bass riff, wistful flute notes, and eventually a phantom orchestra enters the scene. There are some nice touches on the vocal that are reminiscent of early Eels work, and by the time it reaches its mid point, there’s a real break in the clouds and some sunshine and sparkle begins to flash through, lacing the song with a sense of positivity and hope. The more thoughtful and lonely piano notes of ‘Innan’ work quite differently to the previous track’s opening bars. As more of a one minute interlude, its tones are in stark contrast with the sounds that have gone before it, and as a result the track becomes something of an oasis, something to be able to really take hold of in the midst of Zafari‘s broad and experimental landscape. There’s no time to waste though, as we are straight on to ‘Futura’, a track whose title immediately gives a clue as to how it might sound – much like the soundtrack to a neon lit tokyo car chase set in the year 4000. Its tone rises an falls, like an engine starting up and failing, while the phantom choir reappears for another rendition of their melancholic aria. On reaching the end of its journey, Zafari concludes with ‘1 July’. Opening with more distant, lonely, wistful piano, it creates a sense of hope and confidence, eventually building into a frenetic, creative melding of throbbing synths, treated strings samples, and leaves the scene with the sense that something quite strange, but quite beautiful, has just happened.

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