Portrait of Marta De Pascalis

Marta De Pascalis – Sonus Ruinae

‘No organs have been harmed in the process of making this album, only synthesizers,’ she responds a curious fan on Facebook who asked her if she used an organ on ‘Sonus Ruinae’. He could’ve been right, the organ is a very popular instrument lately. Though as for Marta De Pascalis, she sticks to her synthesiser and tape loops. Three albums already, she’s been using nothing but these tools to create a sound that resonates as a contemporary addition to the Berlin School. Building layers upon layers, she sets off to creating an ambient and hypnotic tapestry of sounds. A combination of crystal clear noises, growling basslines and endless, thin floating sounds keeping the frolicking tones together. ‘Sonus Ruinae’ feels like an hermetic dwelling during a sonic trip, swooping you entirely. ‘Arena Void’ and the filmic ‘Dust Pavilions’ soon turn into favourites. Surrounded by a two-folded title track which, not just because of the length, totally renders you into oblivion. The basis of this project were created during a residency at Worm Sound Studio, Rotterdam, in 2019. She defines the search for these sounds as very intense. An intensity you absolutely hear in the two title tracks and which extends throughout the entire album. Immensely captivating. ‘Music never ends,’ she tells a journalist. Nor do loops. Nor does listening to ‘Sonus Ruinae’. 

Marta De Pascalis – Sonus Ruinae (Morphine Records, 2020)

J. Zunz – Hibiscus

J. Zunz (Lorena Quintanilla) set out on her solo-project, but continues to move in that wonderful dream world that she has already populated, with Alberto Gonzalez, for several albums as Lorelle Meets The Obsolete. Because she sometimes feels too limited and wants to work on her ideas on her own. While she shreds her guitar in one project, as J. Zunz, it’s just her and a huge supply of electronic sounds, without losing that contemporary shoegaze sound.

The sound on “Hibiscus” is incredibly minimal and extremely fragile. Her ghostly and thin voice swirls through the songs and doesn’t really offer a firm hold. On the contrary. It adds an extra dose of fragility. ‘Hibiscus’ is like fragile, stained glass. There’s shards that hook firmly into your skin, but at the same time, you also dare to walk on them barefooted. Vocally, J. Zunz is very close to Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). Musically aswell, but the total is differently tinted because of the manipulated sounds.

Opening track ‘Y’ bridges the gap between her work with Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and as a solo artist. A scraping guitar in the background, a cheerful melody line breaks the gloom her voice is shrouded in. The earlier dropped ‘Four Women And Darkness’ tells the personal story of how her grandmother once had to hide from the soldiers as a child. In the sound, a bass echoes the fear. The constructive drama. The scream on “Jupiter”. The pounding “33:33”. Tenderness abounds on “Overtime”.

‘Hibiscus’ is a fabulous mix of shoegaze textures and dark psychedelica that is more so present in feeling rather than sound. There are a lot of contrasts in the album. Songs that sound dangerous and consist of many brutal layers. Others sweet toothed, until J. Zunz throws her voice into the mix. Songs that get the chance to fade out slowly. Others who are brutally cut short, as if their existence seems threatened. “Hibiscus” is without a doubt a rare favourite.

J. Zunz – Hibiscus (Rocket Recordings, 2020)