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Without Borders: Zero Call’s Fears and Dreams of Living Machines - Music Review

 Original Synth

Zero Call

A warning.  We aren’t prepared for the journey through the electronic ages that is Zero Call’s Fears and Dreams of Living Machines.  The electronic canvas revealed here is expressive and vastly layered, echoing into the far reaches of this known and unknown world.  It is truly a majestic release, inviting comparisons to the best that Vangelis offers listeners, and is easily Zero Call’s most unique work yet. 

"The songwriting and production craft of Zero Call is near brilliant.  There is such desire here to merge two worlds and create a wholly new one that one can’t help but applaud the effort."


One listen to the opening statement, “Others Will Follow”, will confirm those comparisons to Vangelis.  This is a release that is challenging; you’ll want to listen to it twice before moving on.  Trust me on that.  It is atmospheric and trance-like in its message.  While the music here does have its fair share of danceable moments, this is not for those unaccustomed to going inward when they listen.  The door is open, but will you set foot inside yourself?

Rich in analog expressions, the wonder that is stirred by the tones of the first track alone is truly cinematic in a jaw-dropping way. Carl Sagan used the 3rd movement of Vangelis’ “Heaven and Hell” for his Cosmos series; but, had this track existed back then, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’d work just as well.

With the audible blast of “Prime Unit” and “Living Machines”, we hear what Zero Call is really up to: mixing the electronic music scenes to create a brand new sound.  Without borders, Zero Call dabbles in world-building and the results are phenomenal.

With “Astrarium” and “Faster”, the urgency of the release begins to bubble up to the shiny surface of this slick machine.  Here, the combined effect creates an expanding sonic palette that include sounds from the natural world: wind effects and human voices.  If we started this journey in space with the first track, we are now firmly on dry land.  We have rhythm; we have pulses, and now we have shimmering guitar effects as the forces, both robotic and human, gather for an epic confrontation.

Zero Call

That vibe continues with the haunting few moments of “Markens Grode”, a track that, complete with a French horn and a rising cacophony of sounds, makes its presence known through thick fog.  And then, as more and more machines gather, another reminder of a solid nearby presence appears with the fusion that is “Formatted Desire” as the language of lust finds its own mechanical voice.

We soon go introspective with the consolation found in the bitstream that is “Deep Mind” and “Tech Addiction”, two tracks that seem peacefully at home exploring these electronic textures.  These are space floating companion pieces (as I picture it): profound and echoing.  Sure, there is a robotic voice humming about in the stardust but, as these two side-by-side companions percolate with exciting sounds that produce a calming effect of sorts, they keep the experimentation of this release in check.

However, every journey must come to an end and the world-exploring of “Solaris”, with its stringed beginning (a mandolin!!) and its synth-merging, finally encounters its own comet’s tail.  The end is near.  The bass playing on this final song is very Cure-like and the song, complete with a woman’s voice echoing into the distance, is a perfect finale to a great expedition of sound and fury.  But here, on this release, it signifies EVERYTHING. 

With vocals provided by Stuart O'Connor and Alessia Antonelli, Zero Call (born Andrea P) provides us, in this his second release for JST Records, an aural landscape reminiscent of the 1970s ambient scene.  Using rhythms from the 1980s, he combines sounds (and decades) as a means to comment upon the state of things HERE in the present tense. And he’s only getting started funking things up.

The songwriting and production craft of Zero Call is near brilliant.  There is such desire here to merge two worlds and create a wholly new one that one can’t help but applaud the effort.  Fears and Dreams of Living Machines is a masterpiece that moves between the labels in order to create something new and damned memorable; something we should all aspire to do without any thought to boundaries. 

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Zero Call

 


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