“Broken Hearted City” is the debut album from ZANTi – Derek Forbes and Anni Hogan.
If you were alive and paying attention to music in the 80s, the name Derek Forbes should cast your mind back to the heyday of Simple Minds, when his bass lines dominated the charts and the airwaves.
Anni Hogan, is a successful solo artist, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist who has recorded with the likes of Nick Cave, Wolfgang Flor from Kraftwerk, Lydia Lunch, and Richard Strange (Doctors Of Madness) to name but a few – she is also a renowned producer and has been responsible for adding magic to recordings by Marc Almond, amongst others.
Together, as ZANTi, they’ve carefully crafted an album that is really quite stunning.
All of the instruments are played between them, as well as being almost entirely self-produced.
I don’t want to give too much away, because I think it’s an album worth discovering for yourself, but purely to cast some light on what to expect :
“Scream Machine” launches the listener into a mechanical / experimental track, sung by Forbes, which is reminiscent of very early Simple Minds, but don’t judge from the opener because what unfolds beyond, is something else entirely.
“Lonesome” completely softens that initial blow, and also introduces us to Anni’s vocals, alongside Forbes – soulful and in harmony.
“Will You Be Mine”, I believe, would have had David Bowie turning it up in his car. It’s like an industrial James Bond theme, but very definitely a love song, with Forbes providing lead electric guitar as well as vocals.
“Head Sounds” harks once again to Forbes Simple Minds / Propaganda roots, but with Anni at the fore vocally, it maintains it’s identity as something completely new and fresh.
“Planet Sweet” is a duet, of sorts, which could have been written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It’s simply got that sun drenched bop along appeal.
“Broken Hearted City” is essentially a vocal and piano track – but it’s a powerful performance from Derek Forbes, which has left everyone I’ve played it to so far, with a tear in their eye.
“Paris Vortex” welcomes Anni back to the mic. Her voice is timeless, and whilst the track is modern in it’s production, there’s something about it which evokes the warmth, and class, of 1950s Monroe era Hollywood movies.
“Universe Of Love” is a beautiful, slow building duet, which leaves you wishing that there was at least one more track ... as it fades out “Where do you go?“, May I suggest you head to the nearest platform from which to get yourself a copy.
The musicianship throughout this ZANTi album, is brilliant. I was grabbed by the guitar ‘noodling’ on more than one occasion. Nothing is over played, or over done. It just all fits.
There’s no way to dispute the influence that Forbes has in whatever he works on, and I wouldn’t want him to completely let go of his roots in Simple Minds / Propaganda, but together with Anni, they really have created something special which is a definite departure from everything that’s gone before.
The biggest surprise for me was Forbes vocals. He isn’t renowned for being a front man or lead vocalist, but on hearing “Broken Hearted City”, one wonders why he hasn’t stepped up to the mic before now.
Last year he released an album called “ECHOES” which consisted of his own reworkings of Simple Minds classics, but even that didn’t prepare me for what he delivers through this ZANTi album.
I know I say some cheesy things and I’m struggling to refrain from giving you another cringe stroke, but they are vanilla infused, velvet coated tones.
I’ve played the album a dozen times now, and on each listen through I hear something different – little infills, voices, sound effects – in places it’s quite sparse, in others it is cleverly layered to add something you’re not expecting.
The production is fantastic.
It’s lyrically intriguing too, and quite eclectic in it’s subject matter ; from Cowboys, to the passing of loved ones, with a trip around the universe inbetween ... it’s almost Bill Nelson’esque at times.
Whilst I am tempted to try and place it within the brackets of soundscape, and electronica, neither of those genres really do it justice.
If you need some loose comparisons to the overall sound of this record, think Goldfrapp, Fiat Lux, a stripped down BeBop Deluxe ; Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra?
If we did star ratings I would give it 4.5 out of a possible 5.
It isn’t perfect, and actually it pains to me to say that, because it’s almost perfect – but for their first outing as ZANTi , “Broken Hearted City” has set the bar high, and knowing Forbes I should imagine a second album will leap over it.
Set for release to the masses in June, we’ll keep you posted.
Also – stay tuned for our interview with Derek Forbes.
For more on ZANTi, head along to https://zantimusic.co.uk/
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