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Kin Za Za: Crazy Beautiful
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
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They are called the paradigmatic, mythological, Ambient-World, pop duo. Ambient- classical music if you will. With a touch of trip-hop, electro-celtic sensibility, and a full wave from the groove of Europe's moonlit Nordic boat pulling out of a fantasy-kissed harbor.

Yes, Kin Za Za will make a poet of you.

"The River"
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'A romance-filled cosmic dream - sometimes elevating, sometimes soothing and nostalgic... classically composed, very texturised, unobtrusive sub bass, sampled and live drums!'

That is how they explain their world to those strangers unfortunate enough not to have experienced the incredible 39 minutes which is Kin Za Za's new & debut master craft. 'Number One in Shambala,' they explain, 'is an album-story/album-vision. It takes us into the minds of holy strangers trapped in grotesque events that depict the illusion of knowledge and the unreality of feelings. The path of this journey is marked by extreme romanticism, extreme nostalgia, extreme wonder, extreme death and extreme subtle humour.'

RealAudio: "Mid Knight"
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She (singer Jozeyeland) has the bold majesty of a Taylor Dane and the power and overdubbing patience of a Freddie Mercury. And the appreciation of an audio-art connoisseur. And the European beauty in her vocals of an artist on the (Nordic) North Side label. Jozey explains: 'Our harmonies are very special in the sense that they allow us to experiment with multiple layers of sound endlessly without making our songs sound crowded and complex. Moreover, in the same time this approach gives our music those extra dimensions, which make people discover new things every time they listen to the album.'

"When You Arrive"
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He (composer Dimitri Soukonnov) weaves a complex otherworld around the diva's worth with more than the skill of a major motion picture composer, calling upon all that classic and manmade audio options can give. And then some. Functioning as their producer Dimitri shows himself as more than an electrical artist. He creates soft melodies that might not seem possible to a mind of wires and monitors. The softness of Number One in Shambala is more than an adventure in sound. It is beauteous.

There isn't a person alive who cannot be captured by the pristine sound of 'When You Arrive,' one of the richest vocal performances on the disc, and a gorgeous arrangement for voice. Thank vocal arranger Jozeyeland for that. As the elegantly attired cd case explains, she takes care of everything vocal while partner Dimitri takes on the remaining sound: guitars, piano, synthesizers, loop construction and bass.

The only big drawback to being taken in by musical genius - and surely this artistically pop duo Must be labeled as such - is that when the sole product is too short, it makes us sad until the next release arrive. How long will that be?

And yet, there is something about this 12-road/track journey that makes the traveling at least double the 39 minutes here. Maybe because the music is so detailed, you can lose yourself in the sound quite, quite easily. Time does not stop, but it does bend.

RealAudio: "Spirit That Left"
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How they capture this magic on stage is beyond me. To point to Queen again, there are some bands who make the studio their realm. This is one of the few who brilliantly accomplish it.

One of the finest songs is 'Mirror,' which fully illustrates their vastness in their own surreally romantic style:


Lights have moved
through my eyes

And time and time again
Again and again
joining us together...
It will slip away when you...
If you...

Thoughts have moved
Through your smile
thoughts have moved
through your smile
Space has moved
through your thoughts
Life has moved
through your hands

Kin Za Za are a foreign film - but only foreign to the USA. They look deeper into the meanings of words and music to assemble works of art that are far more subtle in their third dimensions than the usual Britney Spears push buttons. At times their explanations may sound like the relevant facts to an exhibit of bricks at the Museum of Modern Art, but there is truth beneath the seeming craziness.

For instance, when asked what the band name means, they came up with this: 'The name Kin Za Za is a fruit of imagination. It is an invented word. When one does not know how to name something - one calls it Kin Za Za.' Of course they did go on to admit that 'the name is also distantly derived from an old absurdist, cult film-comedy Kin DZA DZA.'

Of course the disclaimer on the cd tells us we shouldn't get Too serious here: 'Spirituality without humor is like sex without a partner...' You never see REM laughing at their own pretense!

RealAudio: "Elation"
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And also: 'In one of the ancient Siberian Shaman cultures, ZA ZA also stood for YIN and YANG. In general, ZA ZA symbolized pagan representation of the entire celestial phenomenon; there was no differentiation between opposites, the two existed simultaneously.'

And yet the two who are Kin Za Za are no opposites. Unless opposites attract. They attracted in November of 1998 when vocalist and instrumentalist sought out to assemble Number One in Shambala. But just what/where is Shambala? Kin Za Za explain that it is 'a place where perfect beings live and are guiding the evolution of humankind. Shambalans acquire such powers as clairvoyance, the ability to disappear at will and above all, have the ability to hear music like no one else.'

But for all their individuality, there are moments when Kin Za Za obviously know how the other half sound. The voice inflections of 'Somewhere' are more current than you might expect in the wake of all the other elegance. Of course the music sets this track apart from usual radio friendly fodder.

Somewhere out there...

There is a house
a river swollen
Look all around
not a soul
not a sound
Giving in...

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So what's next for the eclectic twosome? Look for a DVD out soon containing videos made for Number One in Shambala. Says Dimitri: 'It's done but I don't think we're going to release it before summer 2003. It has 15 videos, a documentary, a short feature film and a brand new single. Kin Za Za's next album should be released some time in January/February 2004. We're already filming a feature film which will accompany the album. We don't have a title yet. It might come out as a trilogy (3 CD set) with three separate titles. Meantime, we're playing our acoustic songs on the radio as a duo (voice and guitar) and we're preparing for the summer 2003 tour here in Quebec and possibly Canada. We're going to have a one hour special here on Music Plus TV and another special on PBS.'

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