The latest cassette from the enigmatic duo Zizia (astrologer Amber Wolfe and natural scientist Jarrod Fowler) is intentionally ambiguous just from its presentation. No information presented within the tape itself, its neon green case covers a blurry photo of the Zizia flower and an intricately printed abstract image on the cassette shell, without a single bit of text included on either. A quick search online finds a website that offers details, listings of insects, plants, and artists that serve only to confound more than clarify. The self-identified concept of anti-musicology is apparent, however, and results in a complex and diverse suite of two lengthy noise works.
Split into two 18-minute segments, each covering half of the tape, the first immediately explodes with an intense blast of noise that quickly recedes to allow sustained tones and metallic rattling to fade in. Wolfe and Fowler utilize consistent sonic building blocks throughout, but layer them in what seems to be superficially sounds like chaotic and erratic structures, but extremely complex. Digital stuttering and metallic pinging noises appear throughout, the use of cymbals being the only easily identifiable element from the list provided via the release's website. Noise surges and drops, with insect and field recordings cast atop murky textures.
The second side does not differ too significantly from the first from the onset. Opening with a similar violent noise burst, but one that lingers a bit longer and takes on some monstrous qualities as opposed to the tonality that appeared rather quickly in the first half. Overall, there is more of a noise crunch to the piece, and one that is a bit more grounded compared to the first half. With more consistency, but by no means static, the noise and complicated layering once again builds to the end.
Nuanced compositional structures and thematic approaches aside, Genera is a fascinating tape of noise that obviously has depth to it, but functions well purely on its own sound. The details Wolfe and Fowler share via the online "guide" add in appreciating the complexity of the sounds provided on Genera, but even taking it in as purely text-free cassette tape is extremely engaging. It is a microcosm of sounds guided by an abstract, but structured approach to composition makes perfect sense coming from a scientist and an astrologer, and it works beautifully.