[sic] Magazine

Mister Lies – Mowgli

It was hard not to have your head turned by the gently persuasive downbeat clicks and late-night pulses of “I Walk”, so too the mournful R&B pitch-shifts of “Cleam” – two standout releases from Chicago-based producer Mister Lies last year. A good taste of what was to come from Nick Zanca , Mowgli is his first long-playing adventure and it largely follows suit.

At his best, Zanca plays make-do-and-mend glitch against retro house, bottomed-out synth against chop-shop R&B – all of which feature in the disorientating “Dionysian”. Similarly busy, “Lupine” is prefaced and closed by an evocative field-capture loop, settling down at its centre into propulsive electronica where lights stream past and hard edges blur. More straightforward still, “Align” combines dirty, squiggly bounce with windblown vocals and mutilated keys. Expect to find the latter of these on most high-fashion curator’s playlists in the very near future.

Those same tousled tastemakers however may be left scratching their heads if they spend too much time with Mowgli . For, perhaps belying his art-school background, Zanca’s abstract opener is altogether more ambient until its roaring synth finale. His pretty, sax-cameo closer is also more at home in sample-strewn minimalism. And, after its poetic monologue intro, “Canaan” too is much less showy – an exercise that, like the similarly vibed “Ludlow”, is happy to exist on a meagre diet of comedown beats and chill synth rushes.

So to the elephant in Mowgli ‘s front room – the impressive “Hounded”. Featuring lush guest vocals from Exitmusic ‘s Aleksa Palladino , who ranges from chilly vibrations to outright howling, Zanca’s mournful beat-scape is undeniably given extra dimension and identity by her presence. Whether his future lies in such collaborations (it’s far from his first) or even ghost-writing projects for others is uncertain, but this successful foray may well prove a tipping point for such shadowy production duties. Whatever his next step turns out to be, Mowgli is a solid opening statement from Zanca. Let’s hope it’s not long until we get to sink our teeth into his main argument.

Advised downloads: “Hounded” and “Dionysian”.

~Mowgli is out now on Lefse .~

Mister Lies @ bandcamp