Accidental Records (label)
13 March 2020 (released)
The latest of these far-out wunderkind’s to emerge is the brilliantly mad Zilla With Her Eyes Shut. Her self-titled debut full-length is replete with chopped up pieces that evoke cubist and surrealist images yet retain an irresistible catchiness. The classically-trained pianist was born and raised in Paris before making the move to London at 18 to fully dive into the world of avant-garde pop. A fortuitous meeting with innovative producer and Accidental Records label head Matthew Herbert (Herbert, Dr. Rockit, Radio Boy, Wish Mountain) gave Zilla the perfect conduit for her ultra-modern offbeat pop. Herbert’s style revolves around manipulating found sounds so the music, even though it’s hacked up and manipulated, retains an organic feel. A digital program can never fully recreate the natural motion of an object doing what it does in a physical space.
A coarse ripping synth, sickly horns, prickly congas, and movie trailer accents build a woozy anticipation kicking off ‘Get Ready’. Zilla enters with style, savvy and intrigue, adding vocal layers like coats of paint. The song’s endorphin rush begs to start a loud live set. Herbert’s production is stellar, subtle and seamless. Fascinating on its own but never taking the spotlight from Zilla’s entrancing vocals. ‘Sleepwalker’ settles us into the album with a restless reggae offbeat. Herbert keeps the beat sparse, just spoons and serpentine synths. The single oozes with Zilla’s slinky personality.
The songs get more and more twisted as we go. ‘Little Things’ bangs with a bombastic beat. Zilla’s voice is warped as if being drawn into quicksand. ‘Cut Me Boy’s hacked up vocal pieces and bleeps and bloops make for a very glitchy backdrop, supporting her middle-eastern melody. Zilla lays down infectious earworms while Herbert creates a swirling, ever-changing landscape. The single ‘Rainbows’ is light and playful with production like a bouncy castle. Zilla’s airy coo floats weightlessly amid stuttering tubular bells. The album wraps with the sing-song nursery rhyme cadence of the densely layered ‘Whisper, Whisper’ and the ode to her hometown, ‘Paris’. The music intimates the repetitive clacking of the Metro while Zilla skips between English and French, showcasing her impressive vocal prowess.
Zilla With Her Eyes Shut is a staggeringly superb debut. Herbert’s production nears the scope and inventiveness of Amon Tobin, particularly his Two Fingers project. And Zilla…Zilla is the perfect vessel for this avant-garde pastiche. Alluring, electrifying, and enigmatic.