February 8, 2024

Regular readers of my reviews will have picked up that I’m a sucker for modern Oz-based psychedelia / world music, typified by the very wunnerful Kimono Drag Queens, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard,Goat, Narla etc etc…. New to me however are the Adelaide-based psychedelic/world music sextet Sons of Zoku, who return after their 2021 debut album SÜN to deliver what I consider to be an absolute gem in its follow-up ËNDLËSS. Lyrically themed around an endless search for enlightenment but sumptuously creative and diverse on the instruments front, the band display a virtuoso exhibition of restrained rhythmic rapture, drawing you into a deliciously hypnotic psychedelic journey.

Sons Of Zöku are a self-professed hybrid tribe of Portuguese-born Ricardo Da Silva and Ica Quintela, and Australian-born Jordan Buck, Oscar Ellery, Eddie Hannemann, and Hannah Yates. 

The Sons (and Daughters?) of Zoku

The band are known for their raw, world-influenced psychedelic sound, transcending the mainstream by blending elements of rock and folk with global music traditions, folding sitar and flute melodies into distinctive vocal hooks, rhythmic chanting, and upbeat, layered percussion. Selected as “Most Popular Experimental Artist” at the South Australian Music Awards for five years running, word spread of their live sonic offerings, leading to a spot performing at WOMADelaide 2023, and appearances at a slew of other festivals across Australia. I’m reliably informed their live shows are especially spell-binding, the ensemble experimentally blending any number of instruments across a psychedelic-rock canvas, showcasing a yin/yang of unexpected dynamic changes.  

With their second studio album ËNDLËSS now released, Sons Of Zoku push further on the boundaries of dynamics and repetition, drawing listeners deeper into their cohesive yet kaleidoscopic sound. The result is a modern, manifolded experience that teems with the energy of change. According to frontman Ricardo, “The recording process was very simple, consisted with all of us stepping into our headquarters and devoting our craft into creating a soundscape that best represented each track. Individually we all came in and recorded our own layers of colours until we felt the song has opened a door to somewhere we had never been before.

The album opens with a slightly disconcerting tribal chant intro, that morphs gently into the beautifully languid single Moonlight. The band somehow effortlessly capture the essence of a star-laden night, a laid-back warm wash of flute and semi-acoustic melody that is quite hypnotic. The pace picks up halfway through with a more esoteric multi-layered percussive rhythm driving the track. Vocals aside, I’m suddenly struck by a vision of mid-period Man in their more expansive live performances. This sextet are anything but loose, mind, it’s a carefully blended mixture of (okay) slightly hippy-ish sound that works so well! I’ve seen someone else use the phrase “a hypnotic haze of colourful kaleidoscopic sounds” and its bang on.

Earth Chant is the latest single off the album, it’s an exquisitely captured production, no easy feat considering the sheer number of instruments and vocals involved – it could have been so muddy and mangled, but fear not the sound is beautifully crisp. A fascinating blend of tribal and desert-like ‘nomadic’ rhythms and percussions forms the bedrock to this little treat, complemented by choral harmonies and an insidious ear-worm of a guitar line. Like so many others, this tracks strongly reminds me of the Kimonos.

Kuhnoo feels even more pastoral, laid-back and soothing yet tantalising, we have touches of bird-song floating above another mesmeric picked melody underscored by more tribal drumming. It’s sort of 60’s-ish but timeless, given the strength of the production. Hunters sees the return of lead flute and an echoing, floating lead vocal line. Then in comes the ear-worm rhythm again, another lilting melody and I’m dreamily lost in the vibe….and stone cold sober, honest!

O Saber could be Native American in its vocals and rhythms, albeit with a more complex percussion line and again that dreamy, mesmerising guitar line – so simple, so clean, so soothing.They just have a n uncanny knack for taking a myriad sounds and genres and creating something genuinely unique. This one has a stanza of pure Japanese, then in comes the latest single Yumi which simultaneously features a 70’s disco vibe, brass backing and their very own tribal percussion, followed by Indian tabla and pipes; and wah-wah guitar before ending with a brief burst of brass! It’s an absolutely stunning, triumphant blend, for me the strongest track in a strong set.

Lonesome brings us back down into a sort of Pink Floyd relaxed pastoral vibe, very simple and semi-acoustic, very pleasant. Flute comes gently back in halfway through, I can’t quite pin down who else it reminds me off, but I’m not trying too hard, the music is too soporific for that! Maybe “Solid Air” period John Martyn?

And we’re suddenly into the last track Nu Poeme. This one is back to a more electric sound, very dreamy, very Kimonos. It builds in what you might call a more conventional rock arrangement, but I’d be careful with that word around this lot! Again the mix of so many different instruments could be a recipe for disaster but the sound-mix captures the lot in a triumph to the back-room guys – my hat off to the lot of them! See the video below for what could be a distinctly darker side to the track; I’ve not seen the lyrics, I’m going to have to invest further!

Sons of Zoku are:
Ricardo Da Silva – Vocals, Guitar
Ica Quintela – Vocals, Flute, Keys, Percussion
Jordan Buck – Bass
Oscar Ellery – Sitar, Guitars
Eddie Hannemann – Drums
Hannah Yates – Vocals

Special Guests: Lovepreet Singh (Tabla); Paul Ellery (Saxophone

This is a simply lovely collection of gentle, almost folksy psychedelia, the band exhibiting their talent for creating mood music that sucks you into a rich, sumptuous but exquisitely crafted psychedelic journey – sat back and enjoy!