Having been stuck inside and deprived of virtually all worldly pleasures for the majority of the year, artists (along with pretty much everyone) have been pushing the limits of their escapism, and discovering new ways to expand their now limited world. However, for Zoe Wardlaw and John Mannion, and their project ZoZo, the world has always been a bit too small, too confined. For the last 4+ years, in New York and now in the Mojave Desert, the experimental electronica duo has been delving into other realms and dimensions, through media and performance almost too frenetic for human eyes and ears. Their video for “Faceshuttle,” the first single off their forthcoming debut EP entitled, Simulations of Self, is an all-consuming, near-sensory-overload barrage of glitching synthetic tones and breakneck beats, while the images on the screen churn and collage and sequence past at unthinkable speeds.
Visuals, directed by Bayley Sweitzer (in conjunction with ZoZo), open to a tranquil group meditation that takes a rather disquieting turn. One of the participants, eyes open and rolling to the back of his head, begins chanting grotesquely in tongues. A bright white opening appears in his forehead, and, as the camera draws nearer, we can see figures inside—it’s ZoZo! Before we even realize what might be going on, we’re hurled into a black hole, an immediately overwhelming and unrelenting assault on the senses. Unearthly high synths squeal in crazed, yet pinpointed directions, as a whirlwind of drums kicks the legs out from under you, so frantic they are. It’s as though an alarm has gone off during a riot in some alien prison, and the foot-traffic is just beyond comprehension. Zoe Wardlaw’s affected vocals are almost soothing, the closest thing to human we have amid this absolute sonic mindfuck. It probably takes multiple listens simply to establish the structure of things, but it’s more than worth it. Underneath the bedlam of it all, it’s quite catchy.
The video itself is a brouhaha of light and collage and sequence, which only compliments and enhances the track. It’s as though a thousand kaleidoscopes have been broken open, and we are using their shards as contact lenses. There’s so much going on, we are bound to miss something; or rather, we are bound to pick up something new the next time we watch or listen. Like the meditators at the video’s beginning, we can feel our minds expand. The tangible mixes indiscernible with the intangible, only appearing for milliseconds before strobing to something else. Wardlaw sways and dances among it all, her steadfast gaze never breaking with the camera, even when there’s hundreds of her head spiraling out. It’s perhaps the only constant in the video.
Simulations of Self is out January 14th, 2021.