CV & Jab – Zin Taylor “Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface”

My respect and admiration for the works of Christina Vantzou have been documented elsewhere, so I won’t rant in detail once more about the quality of her work. I’ll just say I was excited to hear of a new project.

On Thoughts of a Dot as it Travels a Surface, Vantzou is paired with Forma member John Also Bennett. This instrumental album is the result of visual inspiration from artist Zin Taylor, whose huge mural was the backdrop — literally and figuratively. It was mixed down from a live performance at an installation in Germany last year, and, after listening to the album frequently over the past couple weeks, I’m not disappointed.

Thoughts is much more left-field and freeform than Vantzou’s solo work and more minimal than Forma’s Physicalist Kranky debut. At first listen, the dueling-laptop setup can come across as a prone to pastiche, but things cohere as the work progresses. The album begins with some Subotnick-y blips and sampled voices on “Cactus with Vent”. Along the way we’re treated to various flavors of Vantzou’s digital output and Bennett’s more analog styles, including some of the latter’s grand piano playing echoing through Harold Budd-esque reverb algorithms.

There are ghostly wails. There are moody, meandering, looming synths. There are sampled natural sounds. Intermittently evident in Vantzou’s contributions are threads of Vangelis’s sound design and general ambience on the original Blade Runner score, a work of which Vantzou is apparently (and justifiably) enamored.

Thoughts of a Dot isn’t going to liven up your next dinner party. I find that, like much of my favorite music, this one sounds best with the lights off, late at night. The atmospheres are varied and deep, and will please patient listeners predisposed to eerie electronics — and likely creep out those who aren’t. It works as a long-form conceptual piece and is paced well, considering the experimental content. But the individual tracks stand on their own, too. Those who’ve missed Vantzou’s work since 2015’s No3 will probably treat it as a teasing and pleasing bridge to her next solo album. I know I will.

The download and physical forms are available semi-directly from the the Shelter Press label’s Bandcamp page and/or directly from the label’s own storefront. Vinyl and the like will be most available to US customers via Forced Exposure, while EU and rest-of-the-world listeners will likely find Boomkat more convenient.