While Alexsander Vinter has already touched on a countless range of styles through his music, he delves into yet another unexplored area in his latest full length release. A man seemingly on a quest to comprehend the entire musical universe, Savant reaches into the politics, conflict, history, and alien mythology of Middle Eastern culture, incorporating heavy Hebrew and Arabic influences with his wildly imaginative dance music, and breathing life into his latest creation, ZION.
As far as full length albums go, Savant certainly stands behind the extended format, and builds a deep story from start to finish. It’s rare to take in such vivid imagery without the help of lyrics, especially in the realm of dance music, and I couldn’t help myself hearing ZION as more film score than album my first time through. If you’re someone who appreciates a collection of music as one whole piece, you should know that that’s exactly what this is, and it’s the best way to experience it. Let’s be honest though… not everyone has the time or patience to listen to 16 tracks beginning to end, so for the sake of the masses (and to keep myself from writing a book), I’ll break down a few of the songs I’ve already latched onto.
Let’s start with Nazareth. If I had to explain ZION in a single track, here you go! You won’t miss the outside influences here, as Savant uses a close recreation of the Rhaita (variation of an oboe) layered over a pan flute, and what sounds to be an Oud, working in his typical fashion. That is, of course, ripping out a melody that might be considered complex solo material elsewhere. I deserve some sort of props if I nailed that instrument combo… Just sayin.
Next? A softer number by the name of Outcasts, which seems to waiver outside the album theme a little, perhaps on purpose. I love it nonetheless. Drums reminiscent of Aphex Twin‘s masterpiece Flim take the spotlight at times here, while peaceful tones radiate from the piano and bass lines. Summed up, this song is a pleasant excuse to give your ears a rest from the abrasive Savanty madness we’re all here for.
That brings me to my third pick of the bunch, Mecca. Rough translation: Abrasive Savanty madness. If you’ve been following the lead up to ZION`s release, this one has been available for a few weeks already, but I can’t not include it. It is the face melting, baby punching, back-flipping off the roof, dance floor destroyer of the album. Opening with catchy Arabic vocals draped over a rolling snare line, Mecca builds into a brutal drop, highlighted by that delightful brand of bass distortion between “shit, this still sounds flat” and “my speakers are on fire now”. You know dat sweet spot.
Honorable mentions: Desert Eagle (makes you feel like a super hero), Arrival (“unlocking my car” noise used as percussion = boss), Apocalypse (that funky synth just slays me)
Final thoughts? I thoroughly enjoyed this album. Like I mentioned (along with many North Americans) I am fairly uneducated in the realm of Middle Eastern music, yet found this to be an intriguing blend of very different musical worlds that managed to compliment one another. I already had a great respect for Savant‘s talent and willingness to experiment… but bump it up another notch.