Melbournian Zulya’s new electronic project is called Starship Z. Known primarily for her Children of the Underground ensemble, which offers an exotic amalgamation of Russian roots cabaret and theatrical jazz lullabies, Starship Z is quite a departure, Born in the Tatarstan-Udmurtia region of Central Russia, she sings in her unique dialect over some incredible retro futuristic electronics. The album, Kosmostan is a science fiction concept album, produced by Dutch producer OMFO, best known for having a couple of tracks on the Borat soundtrack that Sacha Baron Cohen lifted from his Trans Balkan Express (Essay Recordings) album. Whilst OMFO has collaborated with the likes of AtomTM (who incidentally has remixed a Starship Z track), he has predominantly worked with Kazakhstan artists as well as numerous other artists in central Asia. His music is curiously synthetic yet highly idiosyncratic, often operating somewhere between a nostalgia for the 80’s synth sound and a plugged in fourth world, all within a vaguely pop, or vaguely cabaret realm.
What’s so curious is that the music has this ill-defined familiarity. It’s simultaneously reassuring and alien, these dubbed out electronic soundscapes that blur the worlds of electro pop, traditional folk music, and cosmic Iron Curtain jazz albeit with a dancey edge. It’s a strange mix that periodically brings to mind the likes of Broadcast or Stereolab, though it’s Zulya’s remarkable and distinctive highly melodic vocals that take everything to another level. What’s s fascinating is that she isn’t afraid to add a dreaminess to her vocals with layers of reverb or even a spot of overt auto tune which comes across like a light vocodered effect – adding a kind of 70’s space age quality.
This is very a unique collaboration offering some truly otherworldly music. Feel very confident you’ve never heard anything like this before.