Zen Breaks New Ground on “Alaye”
There’s simply not a lot out there that comes close to resembling anything you’ll hear on “Alaye”, which the artist known as Ansa GaRangDengZhen—who goes by Zen in English—dropped back in the waning months of 2020.
The cut manages to compile about five different beats, including respective drum patterns, bass sounds, and the like, in this one tune.
And, it checks in at under five minutes in length.
Moreover, there’s no English on this number. He’s likely singing in Tibetan. Nonetheless, no matter what language he uses, it seems like a fair amount of the vocals belie lyrics altogether. The artist rapidly shifts volume and pitch while summoning some truly gigantic high notes, the majority of which are on the chorus in which he enunciates the title of the song. Though it’s just one word, he prolongs this swiftly rising and falling series of notes well over 10 seconds, or so it seems.
Now granted, there aren’t a lot of artists who can mimic such flair on the mic. What then, can be said for the choice of music on this offering? Some of the foregoing drum patterns are way more than unusual. They involve ethnic sounds and rhythms that are decidedly non-Western.
Plus, there are parts where there’s a superabundance of wind instruments, some of which likely involve the flute and variations of it—of which there are many forms from which to choose. The effect of this consonance is like that of fresh mountain air welling about you, perhaps in the Swiss Alps or in some uncharted territory, which Zen regularly explores during the rest of the piece.
However, the bulk of the music consists of heavy piano chords played with a sort of poignancy. At least one of the drum patterns involves some tremendous thudding programmed in the familiar four-on-the-floor beat, which has inundated popular music for the majority of the millennium. In that respect the music is danceable, electronic, and something people are still craving.
Zen will have the opportunity to give it to them in person on August 13 when he performs at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver.