From the onset, ZHU has been amongst the most inventive crowd in electronic music. His penchant for prickly beats and dingy sound design, yet euphoria-inducing tracks were a breath of fresh air in the drop-obsessed dance world of ZHU’s emergence. Since then, he has become a must-see act for not only dance aficionados, but to anyone that wants to feel poignant energy, full of connection to something universal, yet personal to the beholder. After a nearly seven month hiatus, we can feel that energy and connectivity once again as ZHU makes his triumphant return with “ONLY” featuring the songstress, Tinashe.
The release debuted last night as a part of ZHU’s streamed performance on Luminosity’s Twitch channel, which was in celebration of the recently announced creative partnership between the two. You can learn more about that here. In a similar vein, “ONLY” celebrates and marks his official debut as a Universal’s Astralwerks signee, as well as, his continued ascension from underground, unknown producer to a global tidal wave, boundless and influential.
From the click of play, the titillating trademark ZHU sounds fill the airwaves. A groove-forward guitar progression opens the sonic voyage, similar in style and emotional-pull to the opening of “In The Morning”. It soon breaks into ZHU’s vocodered vocal that sets the hook, reeling listeners into the fervor. Once there, the ravenous and crusading beat surges into the depths of your soul, creating the need to move and groove, all before we’re exposed to the sultry Tinashe vocal.
The inclusion of Tinashe’s vocals is nothing short of marvelous. Unlike a lot of dance records that feature a well-known act, her role is less in your face and more about playing the specialized role of femme fatale. The vocals create an air of mystery and allure that culminates in a feeling of insatiable desirability. It’s magical and is a feeling you’ll want to come back to over and over.
One aspect that may be missed is how ZHU’s and Tinashe’s vocals interplay. Each vocal section juxtaposes each other, toying between light and dark, loneliness and connectivity, quiet and frenetic. It’s brilliant writing and highlights the prodigious talent between both artists.
The release of “ONLY” also brought us a music video that complements the music with perfection. Directed by Jack Murgatroyd, whose past work includes Coldplay, Flume, ODESZA, and ZHU’s “Came For The Low“, he explores the feelings and ideas of isolation, turmoil, and apprehension, all things we’ve dealt with during the on-going lockdowns brought upon by COVID-19. It features ZHU voyeuristically watching himself out the window and several scenes that cut to Tinashe dancing alone with lights flashing, illuminating the setting. Jack’s exemplary directing creates raw, bristly emotions that convey the tension of “ONLY” along with our own personal struggles during the pandemic. It may be early, but his work deserves to be a frontrunner for the Grammy Award for Best Music Video.
To experience “ONLY” continue scrolling or follow the link here for the music video or the link here to choose your streaming site. You can also catch ZHU performing live tonight at 8:30 pm PT during EDC Las Vegas Virtual Rave-A-Thon, which is streaming at the link here.