zenxienz, as he is known, is a producer from Los Angeles who has had a wild couple of years recently. Born Cameron Williamson, this experimental electronica powerhouse began dealing with a heavy bout of depression in 2015, split from his long-time band in 2016 and has released two EPs and four singles under his solo project since August, not to mention his debut full-length, Mind Sigh. That’s a lot of changes for one artist in less than two years’ time. Take one listen to “On Fire”, the first single off of Mind Sigh, however, and it will become apparent that the facts of zenxienz’s journey only just scratch the surface.
“On Fire”, and indeed every track on Mind Sigh fuses jazz, psychedelia, experimental IDM and even hip hop to create what sounds like a freeform sound storm. To wit: zenxienz attributes his recovery from mental illness and the ability to write music again to his use of psychedelics and psychedelic therapy. It’s unclear whether the chaotic yet beautiful sounds zenxienz creates are the result of the therapies or an expression of what came out of his depression once the therapies were applied, but the result is simply glorious.
Psychedelia can most assuredly be detected in “On Fire”. However, jazz, experimental hip hop and experimental electronica can all be heard as well, with the emphasis on “experimental”. There seems to be no set structure; beats hang in midair, synths rise and fall, trippy samples swirl around the listener. It might be easiest to advise said listener not to seek any kind of conventional composition here. There are a number of traceable styles, but all those styles are based on improvisation, randomness and organized chaos. Jazz? Yes, but it’s Miles Davis-style fusion. Hip hop? Definitely, but it’s more on the Hudson Mohawke end of things than Dr. Dre. Electronica? You bet, but EDM is not the type to look for. Think more Tangerine Dream-esque sonic experiments.
“On Fire” represents an amazing musical as well as mental journey for an artist who went from the depths of depression to writing and producing Dadaist masterpieces in the space of 18 months. zenxienz is now a champion for alternative therapies like psychedelics to treat mental illness, and if nothing else he says his music is an expression of this. “On Fire” is one small vignette view of his journey. There are ten more on Mind Sigh, available to stream or buy on his Bandcamp page.
Written by Layla Marino
Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science