Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Zeal And Ardor "Zeal And Ardor" (2014)

Until some recent research, I had been completely oblivious to the existence of this demo album released two years before Devil Is Fine. That record rocked my world when I first heard it but now with the mighty Stranger Fruit unleashed both It and this demo show their flaws boldly. Rigid edges and the forcing together of contrasted sounds sound stiff and tacky in the wake of Gagneux's evolution as an artist. And so I found myself at odds with this record, much of the blueprint for Devil Is Fine is firmly in place and even more ideas occupy the space. Essentially its an even rougher, primitive, sketched out concept, which makes total sense considering its a demo.

Its a mixed bag of fruits with an extraordinary set of influences on style and aestheic that can't ever seem to settle in one place. Its Black Metal streak ties down some consistency as songs erupt with dark rumblings of blast beats and screams with an essence of familiarity. Beyond it Manuel adds a little of anything from a muted rap on The Lesser Key to all manor of electronic styles with a fondness for glitched, odd timed beats and harsh synths on the Intermezzo interludes. The third installment bares little resemblance as the music drifts into dreary and bleak sound of Ethereal Gothic Rock.

Its hard to keep up with, many of the fruits of this experimentation are far apart from one another both musically and in the run time but on Bounty we find a flare of inspiration that anchors home as the Chain Gang sound. It makes for a cheeky song lined with group claps over a mischievous melody as Manuel sings in a husky voice, telling caution to the slaves who should keep quite in the presence of the governors wife. Its a rare moment of cohesion in a truly curious demo that continually experiments and thus dispels any flow or atmosphere despite having plenty good ideas, they just don't match one another.

Favorite Tracks: Bounty
Rating: 5/10