Hibiscus is the strikingly confident and singular second album from J.Zunz, the solo reinvention of Lorena Quintanilla – better known up until this point as one half of Mexican duo ‘Lorelle Meets The Obsolete.’ Upcoming on Rocket Recordings on the 21st August across all formats, the album is preceded today by the lead single “Y” and a powerful video inspired by the artwork of Helena Almeida. More on this below. Hibiscus is available to preorder on ltd edition ‘Exotic Swirl’ vinyl via the Rocket shop from 9am on Friday (3rd July) – to coincide with the Bandcamp ‘No Fee’ day.
Hibiscus marks a move on sonically from earlier comfort zones in Lorena’s work (check, Silente from 2017) into minimal electronics, hypnotic repetition and compelling trance states, arriving at a soundworld in which cyclical synth patterns, eerie ambient textures and cathartic vocal exhortations coalesce into a beguiling atmosphere of otherworldly intensity. Although some might hear echoes amongst these songs of the like of Angelo Badalementi’s ghostly raptures, the bleak epiphanies of Nico’s Marble Index or Fifty Foot Hose’s spare sci-fi psychedelia, both the approach and the resulting tapestry here are Lorena’s and hers alone.
“It is hard to describe any record as they keep unfolding to me in time” says Lorena. “Now it is almost a year since I recorded it. What I know is that I wrote the album during a personal crisis inside and a political crisis outside. After being profoundly hurt by a person I trusted but also by the structures outside of me. I wrote it during sleepless nights filled with overwhelming thoughts and feelings.”
Hibiscus is the result of a metamorphic process whereby the minimal is rendered maximal and the personal fused with the political. This is apparent on the video for the lead single “Y” about which Lorena comments, “The video was inspired by the artwork of the great Helena Almeida. It is about giving movement to some of her photographs and maybe imagine a story in between them. Abstract enough to give space to any interpretation. Sometimes it is necessary to make a video about violence because looking at it directly is unbearable. We make metaphors of violence because nobody wants to accept that every day we make a woman suffer.”
The initial vision for the J. Zunz project was for Lorena to strip her approach down to the basics – “I remember I was reading a biography of John Cage and that book detonated something in me. The author was referring to the influence of Buddhism and meditation, and modern artists like Sonia Delaunay, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le Parc, Duchamp, futurism. I was very charged with ideas.”
Hibiscus more than anything else is a process of alchemy – turning a less-is-more approach into a formidable psychic assault, and undergoing an artistic transmutation that renders compelling and uplifting work from trying times. “I didn’t want these songs to sound vulnerable.” Lorena reflects. ”I wanted the songs to be everything I wasn’t at that moment: strong and fearless.”
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