Album Review: The Zero Experience | Zero-B1
As we are getting closer to the long-awaited summer of ’22, people in Greece are dressed lightly, the beaches are full every weekend and the Sanctum is opening its doors to music that is brighter than what we’re used to. Today we’ll get deeper into Zero-B1’s fresh release The Zero Experience, a beautifully balanced mix between jazz and afrobeat. The surprising combo lawyer/musician caught the Sanctum’s attention immediately for one can only wonder how a persona of this kind produces music and what might it sound like. Let’s get right into it!
The artist gives his opening track the title ‘Obianuju’, a name coming from the lgbo people, an Ethnic group in Nigeria. As stated by Zero-B1, the name is given to a child born in the midst of abundance. The track is just as rich, a true celebration of the plenty expressed through both the music video and the instrumental. ‘Obianuju’ makes for an uplifting blend of jazz and soul where festive hit-hats, cords and trumpets are only a small sample of the rich, fertile soil this album is built on. The artist is offering lots of space for his breezy instrumentals to bloom while adding his vocal flavours gradually as the track progresses. And then we get the slow-burning ‘Pray’, a multi-layered treasure to discover. Dorain Arielle is rapping over an intriguing mix of subtle afrobeats and ethereal backing vocals while Zero-B1 speaks about juju and voodoo as integral parts of the African culture/tradition. The artist exorcizes a dark lineage of ideas through his laid back approach in ‘Pray’ both musically and performance-wise. A soft power against deeply rooted beliefs that feels comforting and somehow liberating.
The following ‘Be Who U Wanna Be’ is an adorable, angelic jam reminding us of our worth and responsibility to honour our uniqueness and dignity. You must be who you wanna be, Not what others want to see, Not who they think you should be. Dorian Arielle sounds like a close, caring friend rather than a recorded voice and the track is a real medicine against self-doubt. An answer to the human fears connecting us all. And then we are introduced with the heavenly vocals of Grace Daniels over exotic cords and mumbling bass, in a space of primitive energy. An ode to simpler times when nature was thriving, untouched by the greed of humanity. The theme of ‘Long Time Ago’ fits the organic music of Zero-B1 like a glove, for both come from a primordial place of purity. And the outcome is magical. The nostalgic ‘Wetin I do?’ feat. the seductive Ava Athalia is a heart-melting piece, sweet like chocolate, about love’s contradictions: You love me and you hate me, You fix me and you break me, You kiss me then you make me cry. Athalia’s voice feels like velvet and so does the smooth, beguiling bass setting the foundation for this love song to stand out. Truly alluring.
‘The Bandits’ leads the second half of the album that addresses some fragile, socio-political subjects among others. It speaks about the recent deadly attack by armed bandits on the Kaduna bound train from Abuja, capital of Nigeria. Here we have a clever mix of media, consisted of a survivor’s interview as well as a vocal sample of a senator lamenting to the house of representatives of the dire position Nigeria is in. The way Zero-B1 manages to -in a way- heal those dark events through a female murmuring vocal, almost like a wordless prayer, is only divine. Like a mother that always finds a way to protect and purify. The concept is expanded in ‘Who Gave the Order’ referring to the political scene being dominated by unfitting leaders and the hope for change. It's a vision for a better future created by younger generations, away from the old patterns we grew up in. That’s the dream of every human, every country after all. To have leading faces that care for the people, especially through times of crisis, wars, pandemics. ‘One Day’ is closing the album as a beautiful smile, a confident promise for a changed world, unlike the present, corrupted one. I just want you to know it won’t be the same, but we’ve got far to go to turn the page. As this hopeful articulation enters the ears, it immediately feels heart-warming like the sunrays of May, offering a sense of security to our soul. I couldn’t imagine a better closure for an album as honest, deep and optimistic as The Zero Experience. And it all comes full circle with ‘Obianuju’ getting an extended edit for the ones who did not get enough of this joyful opening celebration.
In a nutshell, The Zero Experience offers a full 25-minute shelter for our hearts to rest, for our bodies to move and shake off the fears and worries of everyday life. Even the most painful moments of this journey are approached gently without breaking the peaceful mood that best describes this body of work. Zero-B1and his three divine deities celebrate humanity and the world as it should be, in a state of love, respect and gratefulness. This is the music we need now and forever, but even more at this point in history. And it's about time Pandora closes her f*cking jar of disasters. Until next time!
Enjoy ‘The Zero Experience’ here: