Kin Za Za,
Number One in Shambala
(Sense, 2002; Narada, 2003)

If you are a fan of ambient electronica led by ethereal female vocals, then I highly recommend you check out the initial release by Kin Za Za, Number One in Shambala. This duo will take you on an eclectic journey through 12 dark wave tracks that border on new age.

Self-proclaimed aliens (of the extraterrestrial sort), Jozy and Dimitri blend acoustic guitar, orchestra instruments (such as the cello), otherworldly vocals and space-age electronics into a complex layering that will touch a lot of souls the way only special music can. To be fair, I've had some friends who have heard this CD (as I play it quite a bit) ask me "What is this crap?" while looking at me as if I've lost my mind. Either you connect with Kin Za Za or you don't. There does not seem to be much middle ground.

Where does the name Kin Za Za come from, anyway? To quote the CD liner notes, "The name Kin Za Za is a fruit of imagination. It's an invented word. When one doesn't know how to name something -- one calls it Kin Za Za. The name is also distantly derived from an old absurdist, cult film-comedy Kin DZA DZA. Moreover, it has a certain connection with Kin-Za, a Tibetan Monk of an unknown religion, who travelled north 3,000 years ago, and who was taught secret spiritual techniques by Nordic nations: both Slavs and Celts."

Kin Za Za has one of the best group websites I've run across. The band has several video samples that can be downloaded to give you a sampling of their music. The visuals seem to add something to what you will hear. Both the promotional material and the website indicate that Number One in Shambala is as much of a visual story broken up into a dozen parts as it is a musical album. As such, if you like what you hear, might I suggest you hunt down the CD/DVD since you will just as likely enjoy what you see.

Jozy's main contribution to Kin Za Za is as singer. She is also the pianist, choreographer and music/film producer. Dimitri is the composer, guitarist, filmmaker and video/audio producer. Guests on their first CD include Blair Lofgren (cello), Oleksa Lozowchuk (organ, accordion and keyboards), Nicolas Boulerice (vielle a roue) and Anna Yerno (flamenco steps).

You have probably noticed that I have not singled out any particular tracks (which I generally tend to do). All the tracks are worthy of a listen. While there are discernable differences for one who takes the time to give the album a true listen, any of the tracks will give you the flavor of what makes up Kin Za Za. My suggestion is to hit their website and watch a couple of their video samples. As I said previously, there seems to be no middle ground with this group. Number One in Shambala will either grab your attention immediately or it will repulse you.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 21 February 2004

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