July 16th, 2017 | Album reviews

Dzang Records

On 3G—an aptly chillwave-era tech reference—film score composer Adam Gunther’s vignettes read like an internal monologue, characteristically cinematic yet eerily personal. Gunther’s third release under the name Dzang, 3G is a day-in-the-mind ride-along with a composer whose antecedents include house, trip-hop, R&B, soulful jazz and krautrock. Guest vocalists like Maria Minerva, Olivia Kaplan and Maxim Ludwig appear as memories, ghosts, the voices in his head, or as the external forces that make it nearly impossible to be alone in one’s own silence. DonChristian’s voice opens the album like a sunbeam through a prism, harmonized daybreak on an optimistic Dzang canvas. The second track “C’mon” finds Maria Minerva pleading listlessly, “You say that we’re done, that you’re moving on … now baby, c’mon,” a breakup track that shifts the momentum as quickly as breakup memories can cloud a sunny morning. It’s snap mood changes like this that paint a vivid picture of the maelstrom of the 21st century’s emotional day to day. Nothing is ever too somber nor celebratory, but each track is subtly infused with a touch of zeitgeist-y malaise. Unexpected saxophone solos, jazz drums, and electric pianos join synthesized textures in the unified mission of conjuring to life the world within Dzang’s pacific coast daydreams and haunted worries. The piano elegance of “Top Heavy” takes a serious approach to glam, quickly followed by “Whachu Do,” in which the pitch-shifted nagging question, “Whachu do with your life?” pulses on repeat over a pensive beat. Gunther employs repetition throughout the album both lyrically and musically to evoke the sense of both momentum and stasis—while Olivia Kaplan chants “I know you’re in love with me” on the album’s first single, she doesn’t change her tone or delivery, and there develops an intensity that swells until the listener is convinced and converted.

—Christina Gubala