‘Showcasing sophisticated songwriting and ridiculously catchy hooks, it will be in your head for days.’
Intro to Zaska
Ireland based Zaska is more than an artist. He’s an artist on a mission to showcase how music can and does bring people together. Starting up back in 2011, and joining
with the musical talents of more than 50 other musicians since, 2019 sees him release his first album. Yes, the road has been long, but as he freely admits in his interview with Listen to Discover, it’s important to enjoy the ride. Taken from the appropriately titled ‘It Takes A Village’ (out 1st Feb), his latest single ‘It’s Ridiculous’ demonstrates the incredible level of musicality we can expect to hear from an album that features more than 25 musicians. Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with Zaska.
Instantly setting the sense of coolness that runs throughout the track, the use of falling brass captures the whole atmosphere in seconds. This, paired with accented, chugging guitar chords, picked bass and drum kit makes you want to strut down the street 70’s style. Honestly. It’s quite the achievement. Especially given the brevity of the introduction. However, incase this wasn’t enough, the breathy-edged yet confident projection within Louise Gaffney’s vocal brings an added layer of sophistication.
Having generated such a sensational sound within mere moments of the track starting, a sense of simplicity comes to the fore. In no ways a negative, in fact quite the opposite, the noticeably metronomic backing gives us the perfect balance of appropriate momentum and little distraction. This however doesn’t equally a lack of interest. Is it simple? Yes. But in being so, it allows for the lyrics to come through clearly. Is it effective? Most definitely.
Moving through the initial parts of the track, it’s safe to say, especially on a first listen, that you may not think much is changing. And in someways you would be right. However, the subtlety of the developments that do occur is what gives this impression. Drawing on techniques such as rhythmic transference – with existing ideas being passed around the kit – and stepwise harmonic progressions within the accompaniment, you suddenly realise how much the track is changing.
Proving this further, as we head through the pre-chorus and the chorus itself, it quickly becomes even more of a songwriting showcase. Wonderfully emulating the forthcoming lyrics, the now more sustained brass lines tease us with the melodic content of the vocal while simultaneously setting up a call and response. Genius. As for chorus, the musical treats lie in the seamless extensions of the previous harmonic progressions which, underneath the tonally increasing title lyrics, generate an apt, ridiculously catchy vocal hook. Trust me, it will be in your head for days after.
With the track to this point centring around sub-genres of jazz, the mid-point sees the influences broadening further. Increasingly creating a highly organised, yet free-sounding musical montage, gentle nods to funk and soul become much more blatant. Unapologetic even. Like earlier, they most definitely start subtly. A couple of notes here. A couple of notes there. However, moving through, greater dominance appears.
Turning the musical whispers into shamelessly stylish shouts, elements such as the wah-affected guitar lines and dreamy whirly organ chords, feel like they completely belong. And as for the ever-developing brass counter melodies and delicate bell tones? Well they just make a ridiculously great track sound even better.