Essential New Music: Zaïmph’s “Rhizomatic Gaze”

You shouldn’t make a double LP if you aren’t ready to stretch a bit. Marcia Bassett of Zaïmph (ex-Un, Hototogisu, Double Leopards) not only stretches, she puts her arms around a multitude of sonic spaces that do not sound the same but have complementary effects when drawn together. Rhizomatic Gaze includes zonked drones, claustrophobic collages, anxiety-laden repetition studies and haunting synthscapes.

Individually they generate vivid sensate experiences that point attention away from her tools (squelching electronics, curdled guitars, effects-fried vocals) and toward states of altered consciousness. “Two In One,” for example, sinks into a near-paralyzed dream state, while “Inside The Space” floats like a hot-air balloon over the misty imaginary jungle vistas. Bassett’s other projects have often portrayed or induced abandon, but not Rhizomatic Gaze. She’s in absolute control throughout, navigating through the music’s moods like the shaman-in-chief of a vision quest.

—Bill Meyer