Nick Zanca “Cacerolazo”

Cacerolazo is a departure for Nick Zanca in many ways; from his Mister Lies moniker and especially from the sonic fields where I’m used to finding him. Built around field recordings captured in 2013 while Zanca was at a tour stop in Turkey, he turns these cathartic and, at times, ominous captured moments into an intimate self-reflection. With each subsequent listen, the breadth of emotion in the protest recordings continually surprises me, and the way Zanca uses that to ask questions of not just himself, but all of us, is magnetic.

Cacerolazo is a style of protest that consists of a group of people making noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils to call for attention. Zanca’s Cacerolazo, then, is his way to call for attention not so much for himself, but, to what’s possible when vision and approach are unobscured and unswayed by outside influence. As Mister Lies, Zanca experienced success at a young age and, as he’s stated, a lot of decisions were made on his behalf, but with Cacerolazo a clear statement emerges. In the hushed voices and puzzle-like web of electronic tones and subterranean melodies, a kind of truce materializes.

Over the three-part A-side, a cat-and-mouse game is underway with metallic whirrs and blurred monologues rolling over an insect chorus mixed with glitch-infused melting guitar loops. It’s like a bowl of marbles zigzagging across a wood floor, with some finding surprising grooves to follow while others scatter in all directions. Zanca is a conductor, holding multitudes in space. The synthetic detritus gives way to a lonely, melodic voice on “Cacerolazo II,” guitar strings steeped in liquid steel resonating through the hollow. It’s a brief moment, but its impact lingers well after it disappears, adding a certain vulnerability as “Cacerolazo III” shifts into an ecstatic free jazz pursuit that dissolves into raw, spirited protest.

I’m continually baffled by the choices Zanca makes from one moment to the next, and I mean that as a compliment. Certain sonic aspects of the narrative lend themselves to particular paths, but he is never satisfied by any obvious choices. Instead, as on the side-long “Boy Abroad,” he finds snaking connections that veer into unmapped terrain. Innocuous conversations are colored with hints of apprehension while an electronic centrifuge bubbles in the background, gently tearing everything apart and sending the disparate elements outward. Catchy melodies are shredded and repurposed, building a stronger narrative. It’s subtle but heavy. 

Cacerolazo is an exciting new chapter for an artist that has so much to offer and say. As a kind-of-debut, it’s an album that requires patience and focus and, when given, promises to challenge expectations in ways that aren’t just thoughtful, but memorable and meaningful. Nick Zanca has already done so much in music, but Cacerolazo is proof that the best is yet to come.

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