Zhu on Unknown Sundays 2023

“Some of us don’t even know the limitations of our own prejudice.” This is how Zhu (Steven Zhu) speaks of the state of the music listening public and even the people creating/editing music. Mr. Zhu is a secret weapon that hit the production/dance/electronic scene in 2014, and at first listen to the brand new album Generationwhy you know there is a talented, instrumentalist and producer that refuses to be locked into genre black and white issues. His soul-like vocals, horny accompaniments, electronica effects, ever changing synthesizer and piano virtuosity, and sparky alternative approach to real guitar and background dynamics have created a solid body of–well– unknown work within our picky, radio driven, musical hemisphere.

Obviously, no one creates from a vacuum, and there are certain chances to collaborate and respects one pays, and Zhu has an infinite space to draw from. His work with Skrillex on “Working It” winds up as a bonus on the new album (first released on an EP called Genesis Series), and it absolutely showcases a hint of the prospects and possibilities–and his musical spine bending flex. The music of electronica doesn’t always fascinate, as it sometimes can feel and sound more beat driven and computerized.  Zhu is real, fresh and exciting on all levels. It comes directly from the talent of the creator and the instruments and is fed fantastically into final production with a care that reminds me of well aged wine before it is sent for retail consumption.

For a first record, in a genre with endless possibilities of reaching out–touching all kinds of musical gaps and exacting revenge on musical prejudice, Zhu has landed on solid musical ground that should bring a large fan base. Not only of dance/electronica, but of soul/R&B, alternative, pop adult contemporary and jazz (collaboration with Trombone Shorty). Hell, if he lets that guitar work take over, there’s an entire rock community that could benefit from his tinkerings like Skrillex did for a hint with Korn.

Harkening to the first time I heard bands like The New Deal, Thievery Corporation, Daft Punk and Zero 7, I realize a much better musical accomplishment, a creative fever, and an overwhelming need to dance (like that moment in the movie, Begin Again, where James Corden’s character withholds his party guests from dancing–even though the beat/music is infectious). Give Zhu and Generationwhy the opportunity and attention it deserves, as he is going to be doing more amazing work–even if he remains anonymously orchestrating it all from his cool brand and prospective.

In the words of one of the bands above “You better get a pair of headphone, and get’em cranked up!” Or better yet..go old school…and hit that stereo and let it flow through your entire house. You’ll be part of Generationwhy in no time.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Zhu Albums in my collection:  Dreamland (2021) Generationwhy (2016)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on July 31, 2016, and I was really looking into a digging the EDM scene, but I wanted something more tangible in the creative environment, having more attachment to musical sculpting, even some vocal arrangements that had mood and emotion.  In comes Zhu with all kinds of interesting arrangements, moods and emotions.  The only problem in this environment as a whole is that it seems to be singles driven.  Albums do not get made that often.  It’s probably due to the monetary value of what they do versus selling an album.  When you can spin and drop and please the dance-masses at high end resorts and clubs, it’s hard to be creatively conscious of the need to drop an album, although one is coming this year and it will be recorded in a Cathedral (I guess his organ won’t be small – shout out to Prince – Batman).   – Mark Kuligowski  [September 3rd 2023]

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