Relentless Beats

Album Review: ZHU – ‘RINGOS DESERT PT. 1’

The ever-elusive Chinese-American DJ and producer known as ZHU has always had a flair for the dramatic. That rings especially true in his most recent release, the much-anticipated EP, RINGOS DESERT PT. 1. The seven-track EP is the first installment of a two-part series, a project ZHU has clearly poured his heart and soul into. Each track fits within the overall theme of “endless desert,” and each one conveys a new emotion that such an environment would invoke. Check out the album below.

The album starts with a fitting southwestern feel in “Stormy Love, NM.” (Feat. JOY.) Right off the bat, we are transported into an old western film setting, as the sounds of screeching hawks and rattling rattlesnakes accompany a solo guitar. The track builds into a beat you’ll want to bop your head to, as JOY’s vocals complement ZHU’s idiosyncratic vocal style.

“Still Want U” featuring Karnaval Blues, is a jazzy, soulful track about a regrettable breakup. The lyrics are emotional – “I should be so hurt cause your rejection is so obvious / And I feel stupid and I cry and I cry and I cry and I cry / But then I tell myself it will be okay but it’s not true / I still want you.” In a place of solitude, like the desert, one develops an ability to let go of inhibitions and become vulnerable, as ZHU so demonstrates in this track.

Those who witnessed ZHU’s surprise set at Coachella might recognize “Desert Woman,” one of the unreleased tracks he played during his set. The track is taunting and eerie, as it builds atop a voice chanting “Desert. Woman.” Like with many of ZHU’s songs, the track transitions halfway through as ZHU’s silky vocals take over and lead into a guitar solo.

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“Provocateur” is a track that stands out on the album, with its sultry, techno sounds and artistic transitions from start to finish. “Burn Babylon” (feat. Keznamdi & Daniel Wilson), is an interesting one on the album as well, blending elements of reggaetón and techno – a unique mix indeed, but of course it works for ZHU.

The EP ends on an eerie note and a bit of a cliffhanger with “Save Me.” The album closes with the lyrics “I wanna run away from myself. I wanna run away from it all. The storm is too strong. Swallow me. Save me.” We are left wondering if these cries for help will be answered. I guess we will have to wait for Part 2 to find out.

RINGOS DESERT PT. 1 is a thoughtful and creatively crafted project. As listeners, we are taken on a journey, swept away to a vast, dusty desert where there are no boundaries or expectations. On top of the theatrical album release, ZHU has announced his upcoming official tour, which will involve bringing two-and-a-half tons of sand with him to each stop. It’s an interesting touch as he continuously builds upon this theme of the endless desert and we are dying to know what ZHU’s got in store for us.

Catch ZHU on his epic Dune Tour 2018 as he makes his way to Arizona this fall. He’ll be stopping at the Van Buren in Phoenix on September 16, and then at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson on October 23. This is one you won’t want to miss.

Connect with Zhu: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

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