Review Summary: The luscious textures of this piece, from the same mind that created the soundtrack to Machinarium, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Floex, the nom-de-plume of Tomáš Dvořák, is a writer sans pen and a painter sans brush. The compositions take you on a journey through lush sonic landscapes. Each note feels like playful canvas-strokes of a Monet leaving lasting impressions upon the listener. Much like the art movement itself Floex bends the conventions of music to his advantage juxtaposing jabs at jazz, eclectic electronics and classic music into a melting pot of melancholy marvel. Some music manages to tell a tale without the benefit of words. Floex achieves this with apparent ease on Zorya. The album is mostly instrumental but also feature some tracks with guest vocalists worked beautifully to fit into the arrangements.
Zorya begins with Ursa Major, a wistful piano-driven song carried to tremendous heights when it reaches its climatic ending and soaring synths pushes a hopeful, ascending melody towards the heavens. It employs a fractured beat with lo-fi cracks and reverberated sonar pulses that gradually builds momentum as the song staggers on. Ursa Major showcases Floex’ ability to produce a pretty piece that evokes emotion by inviting the listener along with him in his dynamic storytelling. After the listener is caught drifting among the clouds, the album picks up speed with Casanova. Jazzy brass solos dance above an upbeat 5/4 rhythm carried by pulsating and arpeggiated synths. When the peak is reached the song releases some tension only to end with a chaotic charge of noise and aggressive percussion leading into the mellow, contemplative piece that is, somewhat ironically, called Blow Up. It serves as an amiably timed break between Casanova and the somewhat similar-in-sound, art-pop chapter that is Precious Creature featuring guest vocalist James Rone crooning in a delicate tenor.
The listener is then introduced to a groovy number called Forget-me-not that employs soothing piano, brass and synths moving from a plucky partition into a free-flowing flush of swells before descending in a mélange of swaying female voices. This track is another highlight of the album and displays an impressive array of dynamics throughout its almost seven minutes long progression. Floex does not halt the momentum keeping it apace on the equally notable Veronika’s Dream, a beat-oriented jazzy track clothed in supple strings, nimble synth plucks and a gorgeous piano melody. As with the majority of the songs on Zorya the strength of these tracks lie in their vibrant variations of ebb and flow, to and fro. Just when a song seems to settle into a groove or set of movements, Floex fluidly stirs up the mix with new passages and instrumentation keeping the songs interesting while not compromising their basic intents and without it feeling forced.
Perlin Noise, a dark dreamscape, segues neatly into the glitchy yet-not-as-impressive Petr Parlao before moving on to the hauntingly beautiful Nel Blu. It starts off faint as a whisper, gradually allowing the lavish synths to widen and breath under the soothing voice of Musetta delivering a hypnotic performance in Italian. This song is another great example of Floex ability to remain accessible without yielding his ability to work with plush sounds to construct clever compositions.
The journey is almost over and Mecholup encapsulates this with a melancholic melody moving on into a pulsating drone, and finally, seduced into a nostalgic cello solo over an ambient cloak as the song slowly abandons its pace. Zorya ends with a naked piano piece called Zorya Polunochaya that appropriately marks the end of this adventure.
This album is an astounding piece of work that will find the listener unraveling more elements within each track with each listen while still being accessible from the first go. I would recommend this to all fans of music as I believe it is a great testament to creativity, beauty and skillful execution. It is not perfect as some tracks are a bit weaker than others, but overall not far from it. Allow Floex to invite you into his world of Zorya and be bedazzled.