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ZAN releases their stunning debut album 'NAZ' and a new video

ZAN

“The name ‘Naz’ has many meanings for me.” says ZAN.

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“It loosely translates to ‘Pride’ in my mother tongue, and this album as a journey towards self-acceptance and liberation,

“It is the name of my matriarchs, as my aunties have names which end in ‘-naz’,

“It is my mother’s name,

“…. and my name backwards!”  ZAN said of the name they selected for their debut album.

Pakastani Australian musician Zain Aslam Awan got heaps of praise for their previous singles Salafi Secrets and Tu, which mix beautiful vocals, electronic beats and world music elements. Now after spending some time away from the spotlight creating new music, they’ve returned with a stunning debut album.

After studying at the WA Academy of Performing Arts and releasing some acclaimed singles ZAN spent time living overseas, before returning to live in Maarm/Melbourne and then their current home on Ngunnawal country in Canberra.

NAZ is a collection of songs written over three years, and I am so thrilled to be releasing it alongside a stunning video for The Fall, directed by Hamish MacGregor and produced by Pork Store Productions!” ZAN said of their new output.

NAZ | ZAN | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The album was released on Friday, and it contains ten stunningly beautiful songs which are decidedly queer.  Throughout the album there’s a delicious combination of intriguing beats, odd sounds and stunning vocals.

It’s a record solidly rooted in a modern RnB sound, but with enough elements to make it unique and distinctive. The production is flawless and the vocals glide and soar like an eagle.

Following a short opening Lost, which sees the singer repeatedly declaring that they were lost but now they’re found, the single The Fall is the first full song offered. With lines about not changing, and not running, the song bursts into a falsetto declaration of potential love. The captivating song slowly builds in intensity and power.

Let Me Know launches the listener into a swirling mix of beats and ascending vocals, while things slow down for 8000 Years – a spiritual song that flies along with glistening harmonic sounds and a beat that ticks like the seconds hand of your watch.

Thumping beats introduce Lover, alongside an odd assortment of quirky electronic sounds, but the song takes a sudden change when it hits the chorus, cranking up the dance vibes and dropping in a sharp vocal. The song just keeps building with intensity over its three and half minutes of pop-perfection.

ZAN 

On Purple they sing about a lost lover and the desire to “fuck the pain away” against a backdrop of competing sounds which create a dense and alluring soundscape. Multi-layered vocals combine with a range of sounds.

Fans of ZAN would be familiar with their debut song Salafi Secrets and it’s great that both this and Tu are included in the album slotting in perfectly along the newer tracks. Even though it’s been several years that this song has been in our playlist – it still hits the spot.

Assemble is one of the album’s faster paced tracks, featuring strong backing vocals, alongside ZAN showing off the diversity in their own voice. Here they sing about a problematic relationship and their hope to “cross the line”, drawing comparisons between physical border and emotional barriers.

Sung in Urdu-Hindi Tu remains one of the most gorgeous songs, drawing in ZAN’s cultural background, but successfully combining it with sleek electronica and layered vocals.

Closing track Take It All wraps up the journey, an ode to how people react to declarations of sexuality, an affirming and uplifting message ringing through the lyrics. By the time the closing moments of the track come you’ve been lifted on a mix of sounds that elevate your mood and enliven your being.

2022 has delivered some cracking albums, and this one can be added to the list.

ZAN

NAZ by ZAN is available now. 

Graeme Watson 


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