Like a creepy city tour at night, this long-player will shake you up and leave you thankful for the daytime
The music of New Jersey native J Hacha De Zola stalks the periphery of society, the dark corners where slippery characters meet and down-and-outs go to drown their sorrows. His new album was recorded in the shadows of a maximum security correctional facility and an oil refinery – a perfectly haunting setting in which to bring his warped vision to life.
Musically, Escape From Fat Kat City sounds like Jim Morrison leading The Doors on a gothic carnival. There are fairground waltzes (Strange) and unhinged ballads (City Girls) and Hacha De Zola’s jazz influences are subtly apparent throughout. On Hold Tight he fully lets go, unleashing his ferocious vocals with all his might as he welcomes the end of days. An array of toy instruments help to add an extra layer of decay throughout, as if this is music made from the scraps left behind by others.
With 15 tracks the album feels slightly bloated in places. Interruptions such as Death Rap and Ice Cream And Cigarettes could be removed, but you get the sense that Hacha De Zola doesn’t want this to be a wholly comfortable listen. By the time the minimal instrumental Next Exit closes the record you can’t help but feel a moment of relief, as if the air has suddenly become lighter – escape at last.
Verdict: A dizzying journey through Hacha De Zola’s world