Ziúr – ATØ (4 stars)

Ziúr – ATØ

Berlin-based artist's second album is full of tension, contrasts and heavy themes

ATØ – the somewhat cryptic title of Berlin-based producer Ziúr's second album – is actually a simple description of what this work is. ATØ is an acronym which stands for 'The Alliance to Take Over the World', which Ziúr plans to do with an album which she describes as 'a network of intersectional support, a network of mesh to help us through these dark times'. With her second release, Ziúr is covering a lot of heavy themes, and this music is appropriately maximal and extremity-reaching.

As with her debut full-length record, 2017's U Feel Anything?, ATØ is based on the idea of contrasts. Nothing can be harsh without the existence of its antithetical softness, and the tracklist explores this dialectic: the chaotic agitation and trip hop beats of 'It's Complicated' are immediately followed by the cavernous synths and spectral, almost child-like vocal of 'I Vanish'; the deep, acoustic drum groove and unsettling wails of 'Life Sick' precede chirpy marimba and collaborator Samantha Urbani's FKA Twigs-esque pop vocal on 'All Lessons Unlearned'. Alarm sounds blare above thrashing, militaristic dhol drums, and dense walls of sound are pierced by haunting melodic lines, in deconstructed club music that is clearly influenced by the avant-garde industrial and noise music Berlin's history is steeped in.

At times the incessant agitation of ATØ is exhausting, and even the moments of space, such as guest vocalist Ash B's response to betrayal on 'F.O.E (Friendship Over Ego)', are restless and on edge. But this unrelenting tension reflects Ziúr's frustration with the turbulent state of the world right now, and her will to use music as a force for change. This is an alarm bell, a call to arms, and in the producer's own words, 'the record is not here to please, but to disrupt and to connect us in solidarity'.

Out Fri 15 Nov on Planet Mu.

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