Written by Jack Andrew Cribb
I think ZHU’s usage of each track from this EP as a composite name for the project says a little something about Stardustexhalemarrakechdreams. While seemingly disparate, the textures and themes of the project actually come through as a unified whole, while simultaneously retaining their individuality.
Originally anonymous, ZHU, the Chinese-American electronic musician is well-known for the diverse range of sounds he incorporates into his work. Stardustexhalemarrakechdreams is no different from this. It comes after the enigmatic producer dropped remixes of Migos’ Bad And Boujee, Gorillaz’ Andromeda, and Portugal. The Man’s Feel It Still, suprising fans after his relatively quiet period of tinkering with the music of others, and is the first extended project since 2016’s Generationwhy.
Stardustexhalemarrakechdreams starts as how you’d imagine it, with the track Stardust. It’s relatively laid-back as intros go, lyrically simplistic, and with a smoothly layered nighttime-starry-skied house that ZHU does so well. It’s incredibly clean, and when listened through good headphones, almost a revelation. It isn’t ZHU’s strongest work by far, but it is nice to listen to, and a strong intro to the four-track EP.
Next up is Exhale, which shows ZHU experimenting a little more, opening with a dramatic string score which is embossed by a driving bass. It’s quite enigmatic and motivating, relying on a definitively more trap-based sound than Stardust. This is a track which would work well in a club, late night, strobe lights popping.
The third track is in my opinion the most sonically interesting, as while harbouring the classic electronic sounds of a well-versed producer, we are also given an eastern-inspired groovy guitar melody, evidently working with the name of the track Chasing Marrakech. It’s compelling hip-hop, with distinctly Berber-inspired additions, such as the guitar, and lyrics explicitly referencing the track’s namesake ‘Baby, baby, you wanna run with me/ to Marrakech? To Marrakech?’
The final track is a collaboration with NERO, an industrial bass banger that really gets your heart-rate accelerating. It’s simplistic construction is it’s strength, relying on the pounding bass and a ghostly backdrop of strings and synths to punch through it’s 4:28 runtime.
Even though Stardustexhalemarrakechdreams is only a four track EP, it uses it’s short length to cram in four individual sounding songs that represent four different genres of electronic music. Will the EP itself be defying genres, or opening them up to speculation? No, but it does offer stellar examples of said genres, and for something as short as an EP, that is all we can ask for. ZHU’s distinguished producing is well worth a listen to.