J. Zunz conquers times of crisis through dark, experimental electronics on Hibiscus | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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J. Zunz conquers times of crisis through dark, experimental electronics on Hibiscus

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J. Zunz is the solo project of Lorena Quintanilla, best known from Mexican electronic-infused psych duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolete. Her new album, Hibiscus, was born out of a period of personal and political crisis, but while darkness and anxiety permeate its tracks, it also offers hope with a cinematic sense of wonderment that lightens its heaviest moments. Moody opener “Y” pairs crawling keyboard melodies and sinister layers of fuzz, while Quintanilla’s singing builds from a whisper into a resolute declaration about leaving a broken relationship behind. The following track, “Four Women & Darkness,” swirls into a grey, foggy expanse where only shadows are visible on the horizon, capturing the trepidation that can come with moving forward after cutting off the past—even when you know it’s the right move. The album’s pacing adds to its tense feel. “Overtime” shimmers quietly as it bridges into “America is a Continent,” which opens with ominous pulsating beats and gasping vocals that dissolve into a murky sea of percussive chugs and elongated, fun-house-mirror bent notes. Hibiscus has plenty of entrancing experimentation and exploratory atmospheres, but it’s most memorable at its most bold and climactic: “33:33,” written shortly after Quintanilla’s 33rd birthday and Mexico’s 2018 presidential election, opens with a simple electronic melody and dainty processed vocals before it dives into a noisy, intense Krautrock journey; It leaves the impression enough resistance and resolution will help you find your way through the murkiest of unknown waters.   v

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