Zone Out

“Andalucían Intro” comes at you from what feels like an unimaginable distance. Through the initial faint, airy vocals of Ashley Bundang, you can tell Transience is going to be an exercise in unparalleled precision. Sporadic bass drum beats approach the track, but any expectation for the sound to grow is met with an almost immediate cut-off. This decisiveness permeates every crack of the album, and you can tell the Australian duo are methodically placing one feet ahead of the other. What unfurls before you is enchanting to say the least.

A trend that continues through most tracks on Transience, “Inside” is bled into by the previous track. Whatever has been growing is now becoming denser with the delicate strike of each key. One final gasp gives you the push you need to make it through an oppressing weight to venture into a glowing pop world. It’s so immediate that can turn around to still see the darkness you escaped. The thickness is thrust back upon the landscape though as an Afrobeat inspired cadence to the rhythm section beckons in “All for Snow.” Bundang’s voice appears like a guiding light to usher you along while simultaneously suggesting inner reflection as it is now “time to think about what you’ve done.”

One of the most fearless tracks on the LP is “Breakdown,” an ethereal proclamation of reclaiming one’s power, identity, and individuality. The ever unlikable “they” aim to do a lot of things to keep Bundang from her true self, but she and bandmate Dove Bailey aren’t going to live for anyone other than themselves. Speaking of which, Bailey’s presence cannot be understated, especially on the high wire synth act that is “Had it Coming.” The production couples trench digging bass lines with a folktronic structure in the chords that finds just the right temperature for the world Zone Out inhabit. This is an environment where cracks begin to form in the ground as a cautionary tale of self-shaming and victim blaming is masterfully approached. A harrowing feat to undertake, but this only further illuminates the fearlessness from the two.

You’re eventually met with a sputtering, addictive solar flare of minimal instrumentation on “Cruzcampo” that has you feeling more optimistic about the outcome. But again, one step at a time. “I Can Tell” picks up the beat in a way that turns into a coy chase of potential connection. The connection dissolves as Bundang attempts to put some pieces of a memory together before shrugging and deciding it’s time to move on. An “a-ha! Oh yeah, you!” moment occurs, but she just isn’t interested anymore.

Clearly the second half of the album has the duo holding their collective heads high with a newfound confidence. Even on the delicate blossoming of “Too Much” this is tangible. Moving with the slightest twitches and movements from a marionette master’s hand, a bold apology comes with self-awareness and understanding of shortcomings, which requires quite a bit of strength to say the least. Then with that said, the apology is torn up because it’s really too late to take anything back. Ending on a subdued note, “The Cadiz Outro” lifts you into an otherworldly realm. Chains are hurled from the body, and Zone Out are left soaring free of gravity.

Truly atmospheric in every sense of the word, Transience is available now from Deaf Ambitions. Joey Smith