017 - Z1
Z1 (AKA Zander One) first registered on my radar through an excellently curated youtube channel by a mysterious figure posting under the name ‘DayOff’. I checked out some more of his work and was enamoured with his deep immersive sound. There’s an old school lo-fi quality to his productions that call to reference early-era Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, and like those great artists before him it’s the attention to detail of his productions that makes Z1’s work feel so full.
Z1 is the alias of Akron, Ohio resident Joe Maas, a classically trained guitar player who developed a passion for production whilst recording and editing his own guitar samples. Jo describes his work as being informed by the contrasting environment of his surroundings, the rust-belt urban decay of Akron against the beautiful forests and lakes in the region. It’s a contrast that seeps into his work as beautiful melodies slip out from distorted ambient underworlds with euphoric effect.
For his Métron Musik Mixtape Joe has put together a collection of his own productions including new, unreleased and old material, showing his diverse sonic palette with a primary focus on ambient electronica, breaks and techno. If you love the mix then be sure to check out his releases here.
I chatted with Joe about his mix and what's coming up in 2016.
JH: Hi Joe, thanks again for putting a mix together for us, it’s a remarkably beautiful collection of tracks. Can you tell us a bit about the work you featured?
JM: I went with a pretty good mix of some of my favorite tunes that have been on releases since 2014 as well as some recent jams and unreleased remixes of older work. More importantly, I wanted to mix together an ethereal set of tracks. Lately, making mixes and playing live has been as big of a passion of mine as songwriting.
JH: You’re a classically trained guitar player and it was cool to hear some guitar work in the mix - how has that education informed your production style?
JM: I've found myself moving away from composing tracks in strict musical form over time. That said, I have seen that guitar players tend to have a certain way of producing electronic tracks in terms of layering melodies (I've spoken with Coppice Halifax over this, as our backgrounds are very similar). The best thing I retained (other than the guitar playing itself) is developing a musical ear. I would definitely recommend any newcomers to production in picking up some basic theory.
JH: I love the sonic textures in your tracks, and there seems to be a significant nod towards one of my all time favourite releases - Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. I’ve always felt that record was so unique and timeless sounding is it a record that has influenced your sound?
JM: Funny you mention that, it was this record that actually inspired me to take up electronic music production in the first place. Definitely one of my all time favorites. Richard's approach to music was (and still remains) one of the most innovative we've ever heard. His ambient work is definitely my favourite in the genre!
JH: What can we expect in terms of plans going forward, do you have any new releases on the way?
JM: There's a bunch of stuff in the works! I have an ambient/downtempo release in the works that will be my next full length (one such song is in the mix). There's also a lofi/ambient dub techno release that is being wrapped up which will have a few new tunes and some remixes. My ZODIAC project is branching me out into more of the beat scene (in the tradition of J Dilla and the like), which I have always been into, but until recently never a part of. Besides that, I recently started a shoegaze band with some of my friends. It's definitely a different direction from other projects I have worked on, but I feel that the vibes will mesh will with people who have enjoyed my previous works.
JH: We always ask whether you can recommend a handful of releases that we may have missed that you think are worth checking out?
JM: Knxwledge - Klouds
For anyone who enjoys the likes of Flying Lotus, Knxwledge will be an instant favorite. He's extremely prolific too, and I think this LP captures his essence quite well for the uninitiated.
Bibio - Fi
There's really no going wrong with Bibio, and I think his latest full length is a great entry point. Some of the most beautiful instrumentation put together in recent memory.
Makoto & A Sides - Aquarian Dreams
For fans of melodic and atmospheric drum and bass, this release does a great job of blending great melody with breakbeat rhythms. Very accessible for someone looking to try some dnb!
Vinyl Williams & Chaz Bundick - Trance Zen Dental Spa
I've been into post-rock and shoegaze as long as I can remember at this point. This is a EP has a great blend of both, and adds in some catchy vocal parts in the last 3 songs.
Curtis Mayfield - Curtis
Thought I would throw an old classic on here. 60s soul and jazz have always been a huge influence on me.
Lone - Galaxy Garden
I'm not even sure how to describe Lone's music, other than colorful and otherworldly. He has a clear mastery of synths and sound design.
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
On the other end of the spectrum, this album is the pinnacle of 90s sample-heavy downtempo. The influence from this album is still clear.
JH: Some top records in there for sure, the last three are stone cold classics. Thanks for your time Joe, looking forward to hearing your new works.
Radio 92 - Humidity
The original artwork below was created for this mix by Jack Hardwicke.