Electronic Producer Ziúr Conjures an Unsettling Utopia on ‘Antifate’

As we wobble out of a nightmarish pandemic, Ziúr’s Antifate might be the soundtrack to our awkward efforts to wipe the cobwebs from our wings.

7 May 2021

Berlin-based DJ and producer Ziúr’s club sets and mixes are known for jumping genres, making extreme shifts in tempo, and in general, challenging club participants and listeners alike to follow her decisions and abandon preconceived logic or expectations. A 2019 set at Mexico City’s Boiler Room began with a groan before draping a layer of fuzzed-out, monolithic noise over the crowd, something that morphed and shifted subtly before she snuck in radical, footwork-like sounds from South Africa’s Okzharp & Manthe Ribane or the percussive trance of Uganda’s Nihiloxica. A mix she dropped on Dazed followed the spasms of Djin with a Brittany Spears ballad. Doing this interrupts the expected, fucks with parties, and deflects boredom. Not surprisingly, her own records are tough to pigeonhole as well. And that’s as it should be.

Antifate is hardly a club record. While it shares a track-to-track unpredictability with 2019’s ATØ, it drops that album’s guest vocalists. Songs find slightly more common ground due to pulse too, which is often an elephantine trudge, almost like something designed for a club full of folks too busy feeling the effects of muscle relaxers to bother with dancing. “Sister Lava”, for example, is held together by an echoing swish, as a flute darts in and out and occasional bass throbs and warped, twangy guitar-esque curlicues vie for attention. It’s almost comically strange but rhythmically vibrant.

The all-too-brief “Aid Is What It Is” is also sluggish, stumbling over a dub-y bass line as sounds seemingly being torn at their sonic seams pop in and out violently. “Orange Cream Drip” cushions an ominous synth line that wouldn’t be out of place on an old Banco de Gaia record, strange underwater squiggles, and other odd incidental whooshes on a bed of bass and what sounds like a ride cymbal.

The record gets its title from a reference to a mythical utopia conjured up by medieval peasants, where houses are made of cake. The place was a necessary escapist fantasy then, and make-believe appears to be at the heart of Antifate. The grooves are right there, but because the top layers mutate or appear at unexpected intervals, the music is open to whatever the listener brings. It’s as if Ziúr has allowed us to fill in the spaces with what we hear in our heads, sounds that we perceive as being present on the album, even if they’re not. As some of us are fortunate enough to wobble out of a nightmarish pandemic, Antifate might be the soundtrack to our awkward efforts to wipe the cobwebs from our wings.

RATING 7 / 10