In an era of uncertainty and introspection, frustrations will inevitably arise. Yet there may also be the potential for change. It’s possible that the warping of time and the journey into one’s own headspace that come with altered circumstances allow a moment to render the inner voice in the service of something transformative and pure.
Indeed, Lorena Quintanilla - better known up until this point as one
half of Mexican duo ‘Lorelle Meets The Obsolete’ - has undergone just this kind of trajectory in her solo reinvention as J. Zunz ‘Hibiscus’,
her second under this name after 2017’s ‘Silente’, is the result of
a metamorphic process whereby the minimal is rendered maximal
and the personal fused with the political.
“It is hard to describe any record as they keep unfolding to me in time” says Lorena. “Now it is almost a year since I recorded it. What I know is that I wrote the album during a personal crisis inside and a political crisis outside. After being profoundly hurt by a person I trusted but also by the structures outside of me. I wrote it during sleepless nights filled with overwhelming thoughts and feelings.”
The initial vision for the J. Zunz project was for Lorena to strip her
approach down to the basics - “I remember I was reading a biography of John Cage and that book detonated something in me. The author was referring to the influence of Buddhism and meditation, and
modern artists like Sonia Delaunay, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le Parc,
Duchamp, futirism. I was very charged with ideas.”
“Lorelle is a collaboration, so every individual idea is transformed into something else. And I love that, but somehow I felt that I needed
another outlet. I just needed simplicity.”
Yet the strikingly confident and singular ‘Hibiscus’ marks a move
on sonically from earlier comfort zones in her work, into minimal
electronics, hypnotic repetition and compelling trance states, arriving
at a soundworld in which cyclical synth patterns, eerie ambient textures and cathartic vocal exhortations coalesce into a beguiling atmosphere of otherworldly intensity. Although some might hear echoes amongst these songs of the like of Angelo Badalementi’s ghostly raptures, the bleak epiphanies of Nico’s ‘Marble Index’ or Fifty Foot Hose’s spare sci-fi psychedelia, both the approach and the resulting tapestry here
are Lorena’s and hers alone.
Yet ‘Hibscus’ more than anything else is a process of alchemy -
turning a less-is-more approach into a formidable psychic assault,
and undergoing an artistic transmutation that renders compelling and
uplifting work from trying times. “I didn’t want these songs to sound
vulnerable.” Lorena reflects.”I wanted the songs to be everything
I wasn’t at that moment: strong and fearless.”