Rahway, New Jersey’s favorite son, J Hacha De Zola is prepping his fourth album, another collection of “urban junkyard”, a particular brand that has earned him comparisons to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Captain Beefheart. But he’s taking a quick detour via the EP Syn Illusión (without delusion). The all Spanish-language set will arrive November 16 but fans (and some who will be) can hear the titular track now.
The synth-heavy track imagines Syd Barrett having hung around Pink Floyd long enough to have sung “Comfortably Numb”, albeit in Spanish and with a lucidity and vigor that hits hard from the first note and never relents across the next four minutes. There’s something decidedly real and lived-in about De Zola‘s vocal performance: He doesn’t over-emote and yet his restraint (such as it is) actually works to accentuate the emotional impact of the lyrics.
“‘Syn Illusión’ is a bit of unrequited love thing. It’s bittersweet, but with some tinges of pain, because after all, what good is love without a little bit of pain? Lyrically, I was reading a lot of Pablo Neruda’s poetry when I wrote this. It’s so rich in dark romanticism and it really inspired the lyrical content of ‘Syn Illusión.’ Vocally, I tried to tame myself a bit by singing more like a ‘pop star’ as much as possible and less like a carnival barking raging lunatic!” he says. “When I first started making this EP, I thought, ‘What am I doing? Who the hell is going to be into this?’ There was a bit of anxiety there, but rather than to give in to my nerves, I doubled down on this pop-synth-syrupy sound and just went for it.”
As songs on the matter go, this is one that’s bound to light the way forward and inspire a legion of imitators.