Album of the Day: Dzang, “3G”

Dzang is both the recording project of Los Angeles-based musician Adam Gunther and the name of the label he runs. His compositions, and the label itself, serve multiple purposes: to make the avant-garde more accessible, while pushing the limits of pop music. On 3G, Gunther’s third LP as Dzang, the multi-instrumentalist crafts dance-indebted rap, gorgeous piano ballads, and everything in between.

Gunther uses 3G as a showcase for L.A.’s up-and-coming singers and songwriters, allowing vocalists like Maria Minerva and Olivia Kaplan to shine without obstruction. Minerva and Kaplan are featured on two songs apiece, and their voices mesh perfectly with Gunther’s slinking psychedelic romps and minimal, pop-oriented melodies. Elsewhere, on “So Young,” an alt-R&B tune with massive percussion, Gunther enlists L.A. mainstay Maxim Ludwig, whose floating hums wash in from a celestial place. Conversely, on album opener “My Name (Nana),” Gunther gets help from rapper Don Christian, who spits double-time flows over an austere dance beat and pitch-shifted vocals. This and other tracks speak to Gunther’s equally thrilling and off-kilter sonic world.

Though Dzang is a project based on collaboration, some of 3G’s strongest moments come when Gunther performs alone. “Supercomplication” is a warm, electro-shoegaze anthem, blending the astral progressions of M83 with the low-end thump of Flying Lotus’s early beat scene forays. The album’s final track, “Take You Down To,” begins with hypnotic looping before descending into free jazz. Its thumping, four-on-the-floor bass drum keeps the song rooted.

3G’s most impressive trick isn’t the album’s diversity, it’s how seamlessly this multitude of influences blend into something entirely fresh. Dzang can be tricky to grasp, but once you understand the concept, it pulls you in even further.

Will Schube

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