zNo – I

zNO - I

CD, self-released, 2010
www.zno-music.com

Simply titled “I”, this self-released debut full-length is a complex trip into the personal world of a competent and skilled French musician, Ricardo Gomes, who operates under the alias of zNo (not to be confused with the UK drum’n’bass project ZnO).
Hardly a newcomer to the French industrial scene, zNo has collaborated several relevant names (as attested by the album “AggressiVSouls”) and, judging from this album, he wouldn’t be totally out of place among the Audiotrauma collective. As a whole, zNo is a good example of what characterizes some of the more aggressive and intelligent contemporary French underground electronics, especially metal-influenced industrial (without veering into rock territory). A bass-driven layering of intense rhythms (in this particular case aided by live bass and drums) is combined with occasional voice elements (sampled or live) and melodic layers which wouldn’t be out of place in a John Carpenter movie – comparisons to acts like Sonic Area and Le Diktat may come to mind. The end result is quite effective and the listener will find “I” to contain several haunting and ear-grabbing pieces.
Nevertheless, though this is a solid release and marks zNo as an artist to discover and watch out for in the future, it would certainly benefit from a more of diversity and rhythmic variety to make it globally more engaging; a bit more raw power (possibly through the addition of more vocal elements) wouldn’t hurt either. In fact, standout tracks that come to mind are the ones that feature a marked vocal component: the psychotic ghostly voices in “Golden Cage”, the theatrical spoken word in “Something Else”, Narciss’ growling rapping in “Compress” and the quasi-ethnic feel of “Depth of Humanity”.

[7.5/10]

— Miguel de Sousa

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