If you’re into Balam Acab, I would like to steer you towards the company of Hectic Zeniths, “the work of bedroom producer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Morgan Prince. Nearly three years in the making, the densely layered project builds around original piano compositions with an atmospheric collage of chopped and pitched dollar-bin vinyl samples, live instrumentation, synths, and haunting vocals. Featuring violinist Patrick Bailey, guitarist Dave Cohen, and The Yetti on drums.” ‘Hectic Zeniths’ is an anagram for the German word ‘Zeitschtichten,’ meaning “Layers of Time.” The artist has previously released a free EP and an array of hip hop and electronic remixes under the name ‘amplifya’. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he is currently teaching high school math (A high school teacher making music and serving his community? Now that’s mad respect right there) in Philadelphia, PA.
If you swing over to the bandcamp, you’ll only be privy to only three songs off the latest EP (Lucky for me, the perks of writing about music gives you the ability to receive extra songs as a sign of goodwill).
Now the comparison to Balam Acab immediately establishes the musical foundations of Hectic Zenith, namely the emphasis on the instrumentals, layered with a mumbled voiceover every now and then. So what it is it about Hectic Zenith that like Balam Acab, separates itself from the music you would hear in some uptight office workplace? It revolves entirely around the mood and tone that the music takes, often times elevating in tension and emotion in one moment, only to settle in a calm demeanor the next. Such technique is seen in the song “curtain” and “then and now” showcaseing the pitfalls of merely pidgen holing the song into the category of Balam Acab territory only. Balam Acab’s songs usually have an extremely slow pace, while Hectic Zenith actually builds into a crescendo at various points of the song. Allow me to talk about my runaway favorite song off the work “I Might Drown”. Dramatic but at the same time it allows for a sense of reflection upon listening. The beauty of top notch piano work.
After finishing my first listen of the EP, my biggest question about this (and perhaps the subject to a Tell All Thursday interview sometime?) is the time it took for the work to be produced, refined, and deemed worthy enough for release. I would love to know what factors made this timeline so long (new musical influences, personal life putting music on hold, etc.) With a work like this, I can’t help but feel that the album is an extremely personal narrative of Hectic Zenith…only without the words. Perhaps that’s the finest quality of this music, it allows the listener to work with the material given and express in their own words about the story. The very structure of the songs seems to support such a conjecture, seeing how there isn’t a consistent / overriding tone throughout the music. You’ll have instances of dark, brooding sound in the beginnings of “then and now”, only for it to shift into a quiet embrace in the middle of the song (about a minute and thirty seconds into the song). Just as you’re about to settle into this nice, relaxed mood, the tension in the song re-enters, making you forget that there was ever that brief interlude. However, the crazy thing is, if you listen carefully enough, you can catch the subtle shifts in the music that anticipate the transition. Talk about musical sophistication.
I wouldn’t say that the music is exactly jubilant, and it’s Hectic Zenith is not the easiest sound to get into right away, but once you settle in…the musicality demonstrated is pure bliss. Hetic Zenith demands the listener not to just passively take in the music (at least not at first), but to actively engage with the music to move with every rise and fall. It’s challenging and sometimes exhausting, but maybe that’s the draw of Hectic Zenith all along. The power that is given to the audience to express within the music, now that’s beautiful. Took me awhile, but count me in as a fan.
Release date: January 10 2012 [Bandcamp]