Terminalia Amazonia, the new, subdued and momentous instalment of Zu, is the sound of a long, slow journey in pursuit of a moment. For the past four years the band’s members have regularly visited an undisclosed indigenous village on the Ucayali River close to the border between Peru and Brazil. They’ve immersed themselves in the local Shipibo-Conibo culture’s ancient knowledge, teachings and rituals, some of which stretch back millennia. “What you hear on Terminalia Amazonia is the integration of worlds: the ancient shamanic songs of the Shipibo-Conibo tradition and our own search for sound and frequencies,” says Massimo Pupillo. The heart of the Shipibo-Conibo culture is rooted in their spiritual, physical, and cultural relationship to the Amazonian rainforest, and Zu’s work started as a series of nightly field recordings of the culture’s ceremonial healing songs, known as Icaros.
Five minutes into this 72-minute album, the listener will sense, intuitively, where it is coming from. Its tone and pace are those of human breath, vital, vulnerable, slowly revealing a lush, humid space that is sacred to the few who have journeyed there.
Playing only vintage analogue synthesizers (EMS Synthi, OSCar, Roland System-100M, ARP 2600, Octave-Plateau Voyetra-8), Zu project dense, spectral layers of sound through damp rainforest atmosphere, weaving through sheltered gulleys and out into open glades, mottled with streaks of scattered light. Spontaneous and elaborate, grounded and transformative, the sound conveys its shamanic intent, so immersing the listeners in the present moment that their surroundings will melt away.