Inclusivity can be a hard sell in music. If you’re not careful, it can easily be seen as a simple ploy to garner sympathy or pander to some common emotional denominator. But when done right, it can draw the listener into a complete and fully formed world of often communal ideas and feelings. In the case of singer-songwriter Chris Zurich, this campfire mentality comes all too easily. Drawing from his hardcore music upbringing — and being inspired by soul artists like Stevie Wonder and Cody Chesnutt — Zurich began to understand that melody and intense emotion catharsis need not be mutually exclusive. Studying with a former opera star, he realized that a vocal soulfulness paired with leagues of energetic rhythms could bring out the same sense of closure and release that the loudest hardcore bands always aimed for, and that soul artists always had in spades. The sense of unbound collusion between genres is hallmark of his music and can be found in almost every song on his forthcoming self-released debut record, Black Ink (out October 15th).
For out latest glimpse into Black Ink, Zurich has given us the intimate and pensive “Nothing Around Me,” which details the collapse of a relationship between him and a former bandmate. With an opening line like “nothing around me’s the same,” you can pretty much guarantee that it was a painful break. Wrapping occasional flashes of synths and shimmering guitars around his hesitant vocals, the track paints a heartbreaking portrait of misunderstanding and regret. There is a sense of cautious optimism — brought out by a brass outro — that the whole situation might possibly be okay somewhere down the line, but right now it just seems too close to feel anything but pain. But Zurich instills these emotions with a fragility and hard-won validity that keeps the song from ever feeling too maudlin or overly sentimental.
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the latest single, “Nothing Around Us,” from Chris Zurich’s upcoming debut record, Black Ink.
Also be sure to check out the video for “Nothing Around Me” below, which finds Zurich being slowly overwhelmed by a dark amorphous liquid — the titular black ink possibly. Between shots of Zurich’s expressive face and the slowly spreading darkness (perhaps a primitive defense mechanism), the visuals give a good idea of the visual representation of the collapse of that friendship, where deep-seated emotions and reflexive actions act as blinders to everything else around them. The stark visuals pair well with the plaintive and subtle synths, chiming guitars, and the almost tangible sense of desperation which fills his voice.