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Eyeroll Antonio Poscic , July 25th, 2023 08:06

Featuring guest spots from Elvin Brandhi, Juliana Huxtable, Abdullah Miniawy, and more, Ziúr's is an exercise in radical acceptance, finds Antonio Poscic

The current era of post-irony and earnest appreciation feels like an antidote sent down from heaven to counteract the apathy left behind by a decade of art in love with itself, shrouded in layers of dreary cynicism and hermetic statements. More radical than New Sincerity, we’re seeing a loose artistic movement form, one that embraces kitsch, syrupy expressions, unabashed emotions, and everything else that was once shunned as uncool. As a recent semi-viral toot suggested, “the best first step to changing the world into a better place is to just stop making fun of people or yourself”. This philosophy of radical acceptance extends beyond artworks and single use partnerships, while support networks built by artists flourish into exciting collaborations like Ziúr’s Eyeroll. As the Berlin producer recently discussed in an interview for The Wire, “if we’re careful with each other’s needs and embrace our differences, we’re stronger than we could ever be on our own”.

Although the title of Ziúr’s new LP might suggest a return to irony, her eye roll is anything but ironic. Instead, the album directs an angry sneer towards the dehumanising, conservative trends present in society. Her music is sincere in both sound and philosophy, born out of a need to connect following months and years of isolation. Across the eleven cuts on the record, she is joined – both physically and artistically – by a cast of musicians and friends in the creation of an utterly captivating composition of sounds. Compared to her previous solo release (2021’s Antifate), Eyeroll is organic and expansive, woven around the bouncy sounds of struck, scratched, and stretched rototoms, mutated voices, squiggly trumpet noises, and the ambient sounds of Ziúr’s flat in Berlin. The resulting music is restlessly rhythmic and capable of growing into a multitude of textural and structural directions.

On the opening ‘Eyeroll’, Elvin Brandhi’s voice contorts into an elastic, half-broken snarl left to clash against boinging drum rolls, creaking floorboards, and stabs of white static. “I roll the shittiest cigarette,” she hisses, over and over, until humour disappears into rage. Abdullah Miniawy’s melismatic fragments and trumpet licks then bless ‘Malikan’ with a sinister spiritual experience. His phrases float over the rhythmic backdrop that breathes in and out, each cycle ever more dynamic. Meanwhile, Iceboy Violet delivers a crawling barrage of crunched up raps on ‘Move On’, his flow elongated and biting as he inflects against vibrating effects: “please make skin out of this plastic”.

After Juliana Huxtable uses ‘99 Favor Taste’ to muse on “mollusk squishy wishy” – one of two brief, surreal intermissions along with Ledef’s ‘Partygoodtime’ – Brandhi comes to power again via one of the album’s highlights, ‘Nontrivial Differential’. Her voice is mercurial, shifting from melodic, Björk-like inflections in high registers to gnarly rasps, while pushing against undulating brass flutter and springy beats. When Brandhi’s fury later escapes through a proper punk scream on ‘Cut Cut Quote’, her delivery and wicked, demon-like poise remind of the atmosphere and productions she employed on Villaelvin’s 2020 album Headroof, but with an even more intense aura.

Precipitating tom hits, Miniawy’s solemn spoken word, and James Ginzburg’s synth contributions make ‘If The City Burns I Will Not Run’ into a shiver-inducing manifesto, before Ziúr uses the final two cuts to tone things down a notch. ‘Hasty Revisionism’ is a glistening piece of string-led, chilled out hyper pop, while ‘Lacrymaturity’ fills its Sun Araw-adjacent desert soundscape with effigies of ambient Americana and twangy rock. As counterintuitive as it may seem, it’s a perfect ending for the album, a calming dénouement at dawn after a night of endless energy.