Rival Consoles - Overflow
June 28, 2022
The album begins with ULTRAK. Laser sounds shoot into a deep cavern and the dissonant aspects of the sound fizzle against the walls. All of a sudden, melody and percussion meet as reversed cymbals swipe at the listener. A tense atmosphere is created, one with emotional integrity from the very start. One selection of notes splits off and rises higher as another provides the bass sounds to contrast. Flickering rhythms begin to pervade the atmosphere, zwansound’s first excursion on the album does a lot to set the listener up for what’s to come. He combines a sad purity with industrious, club-inspired percussion.
Now broken in, [MUSIK DATA] takes little time to enter into a groove. A moaning voice echoes back and forth and a heavy, deep percussive section begins it’s interjection. The ghostly, intricate movements of zwansound’s drum sequencing causes the listener to feel there is a consistent melodic element, even when it’s absent. The whispy cymbals begin to sound like notes when the artist strips the track back to its drums. Many of the drum sounds are heavily flanged and phased too, causing a disorientating numbness about the track. A tragic tune begins, pads floating somewhere near the horizon. Like the early breaks of sunlight, the notes don’t reach the listener directly, but we can definitely see them begin to pierce the veil created.
SKIJUMP pushes the vocal sampling to the very forefront. A breathy vocal laments alongside a high-pitched improvisational trill. After a while, a tuneful cowbell sound begins. Interestingly enough, with just this simple change, zwansound begins to conjure up a house-y sound. That cowbell will be all too familiar to those that have stayed on the dancefloor as the inebriates begin to take hold, and when the sounds begin to creep in on you. Again, the artist performs a beautiful shift in feeling as an Aphex Twin-like melody leaks it’s way in, sounding like someone playing a broken piano in a swimming pool. And before we become to invested in the tune, it steps back and the heavy drums kick in again.
GLOAM PART II borrows some of the percussion from the track before as the drums begin to fall over themselves. The album begins to play out like a DJ set, the lamenting voice from the track before can be heard as if zwansound has brought it back in with the fader. This furthers the feelings of being stuck in the nether regions of a dark club. The songs only stand by themselves for a short while before being swallowed by the next. A heavy, squelching bass begins to take control of the track interwoven with a sporadically placed spoken sample.
DROWNING IN A CUTE LILTTLE STORM OF SEXY BLEEPS FROM THE INSIDE OF YOUR MAC opens up into a mellow, echoed sample. A piano sound seems to improvise into the shifting darkness. A calmness falls as each percussive sound sprays into an expansive plane.
BRØKEN RETINA finds its structure in a beautifully approachable pad sequence. One particular note opens itself up towards the higher frequencies as it is played. zwansound falls into a four to the floor rhythm as the pace begins to grow. The beats seem to incorporate depth and dance equally. A fair few of the songs would be at home in a club setting just as they would in an instance of leisurely listening. A dissonant wind picks up as a new, more calculated rhythm kicks in. The space between beats is saturated with echoed sound and masterful texture. The pad sound rears it’s head again, a salve to the increasingly aggressive drum work. It’s a feat of brilliance that zwansound can keep tabs on so many individual layers at once. Always sounding a noise away from chaos, the track is held in this permanent, cataclysmic status.
ISOFOAM takes over with heavy bass drum and a delayed voice sample. It seems to slip beneath the effects of the heavy drumbeat. A lethargic pad leans from one side to the other. A paranoia-building bell pierces it’s way into the track at different pitches. zwansounds drums begin to slash through the noise with an unforgiving bass and snare combination. We’re thrown into periods of extreme disorientation quite sporadically. With the use of unorthodox delay techniques and sporadically placed vocal samples. At some points our mind stutters into a sludge, at others it invites this constant revolution of a certain sound. Zwansound adopts the classic characteristics of genres such as techno and garage here but implements them in a hypnotic and unique way.
The beat re-emerges for PART 2. A tuneful drum sound plonks it’s way through the dramatic soundscape. Squelching percussion gives way to more pad sounds, rising from some deep unseen trench. The nonsensical vocal samples begin once again. Two deep bass drums trade blows as bubbly percussion fizzles at the very top of the mix. The track glitches at points with an instability that could be likened to the first few years of grime instrumentals. How the white labels of the early 2000s would foster this lack of a rhythmic status quo. Every so often a skilled producer would interrupt their own tempo, causing the track to take on this disorderly and aggressive feeling. zwansound does provide rhythm though, at many points we fall into this seemingly unrelenting throb of bass drum.
ZERØ FVNK hums with life as a slashing, high-end percussion sequence kicks in. The short track shows no desire of progression, as we find the producer in a web of deep humming bass and dissonant sound.
LENTICULAR POP UPZ shoots a fragment of vocals across the listeners bow. The actioning of which is signalled by a piercing bass drum at the same time. We begin to step into a new landscape. zwansound employs watery bass drums alongside a high arpeggiating sound muffled. The main tune the producer uses a beautifully commercial sound to it, it’s almost as if it’s a corrupted guitar sound sampled from a pop hit. Of course, everything we hear sounds completely new and unique, no doubt engineered intricate by the zwansound.
NEW FORUM begins with rhythmic elements driving forward. Lacking the simplified rhythm of the track before, the treble-ridden claps guide us through gradually. Dragged from eye-wateringly high sounds to bone-shakingly low frequencies in a matter of seconds has become the norm as zwansound does everything he can to lose the listener in a torrent of noise and rhythm. A bass pokes it’s head out for a moment, just long enough to assert dominance over the mix, before we hear it recede as if watching some behemoth disappear silently into the sea. zwansound switches between beats, reaffirming that his production style takes a lot of inspiration from high intensity mixes and DJs. An eerie synth sound plays a twinkling melody that is thrown out of tune with the booming sound of the bass notes. In the ecosystem of sound, the lower frequencies are the shifting tectonic plates that affect the higher, less intimidating sounds. An atmosphere of creepiness surrounds the track, zwansound takes every opportunity to build tension and then do something unpredictable. Towards the end, the song implodes in a rhythmless mess, only to begin it’s steady beat once again. At the very back end, the track is overcome with euphoric yawns and slow-moving pass as it seems we venture out into the morning light for a brief time.
WUT 2 GIVE starts with a piercing laser and crackling bass that shakes the euphoria loose. The familiar, industrious snare makes its way into the mix sounding like singular gun fire. zwansound remains unafraid of pace and swift tempo, setting an energetic tone. Suddenly, juddering sounds begin to shoot out in quick succession like the energy cells of some futuristic space ship coughing and spluttering. A male voice shouts over the sonic wreckage whereas a girl nonchalantly insults us. ‘Fuck you’ she says in a cool and collected manner, eagle-eared listeners will recognise this snippet from Nmesh’s Mall Full of Drugs. zwansound featured on the remix album Drug Full of Remixes.
Mist clears revealing a valley or meadow alive with birdsong on SCROLLING THRV THE INNER SPÆZE. In this track, more so than others, we can hear the artist’s painstaking melodic skill. The deep, enveloping pads and mellow piano keys descend repeatedly. As a beat snakes its way in underneath heartfelt notes, zwansound sets a stark contrast to the vigour and vitality of the tracks before. Here we can really absorb the beauty of the melody, stripped of infectious percussion. The chord progressions ache with a numb sadness. There is some amount of spirituality nestled within the sound, but the producer suffocates it underneath walls and walls of reverb. The listener finds more feelings of dread and malaise than uplifting triumph, which is a testament to the producer’s skill. The track gives the listener some time to contemplate, and attaches a strange bipolar juxtaposition within the album itself.
VIRTUAL HAZE pushes back into swift tempo with an unassuming bass drum and corrupted snare trading blows. The track builds like many others have, devoid of much melody, a focus is pulled towards the multi-faceted percussion zwansound employs. However, with the inclusion of a vocal shout, we are suddenly dropped into a swamp of murky bass that sears the rest of the track. A blast of early 90s euro-dance invades the mix, followed by violent drum sequencing, and then a break of silence. Into that silence, zwansound charts a new course with timid percussion and a wandering bassline. It seems to stumble up and down under its own volition. The austere blanket of bass rips through again. The track acts as an opportunity for zwansound to switch up the feeling of KOMPLEXSELEK VOL2 just before its close. Parts of the track are wildly different than the fast-paced, crossfaded nature of the rest of the album.
Half suspecting a tranquil end to the album, the listener is met with heavily distorted bass notes and deafening air horns in NO DISIRE. An array of different bass sounds permeate the mix. Each one takes it in turns to assault the listener before receding suddenly, bringing the album to a close.
In zwansound’s latest release we find an extreme skill for texture and layering. The characteristics of each track are large in number and delving through the thickness of each one is difficult on a first listen. The pinballing effect that the producer achieves, not just from track to track, but sometimes midway through a track is perennially engaging and plays more like a mix than an album at some points. But the emotional depth of the album should not be taken for granted. We find zwansound meshing deeply heartfelt melodies and eerie tunes with incisive garage and jungle drum sequencing. The result is an infectious sound that does more than enough to invite any listener to delve a little bit further into the artist’s work.
Download/listen in full here: https://pedicurerecords.bandcamp.com/album/pd099-komplexselek-vol2