The story goes that Damian Lazarus, enigmatic head of one of underground music’s most successful imprints – Crosstown Rebels – found himself meeting with a shaman in Tulum, site of an ancient Mayan city back in January. Under the instruction of the shaman, he threw his arms up to the moon in order to draw energy from the universe. The result was an overwhelming spiritual experience, as Damian says, “I was locked into this electric force field”. This convinced him to plan an event that could plug thousands of others into that same raw and powerful vibe.
Thus December 21st not only marks the end of a 25,625-year-long cycle and the end of the Mesoamerican calendar, culminating in galactic alignment and bringing about a perfect moment for universal renaissance, it also marks the Day Zero festival in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. A 24 hour event celebrating Mayan culture and electronic music, with artists such as Massive Attack, T.E.E.D and Jamie Jones joining Lazarus and a plethora of the Crosstown rosta.
In preparation for this, Lazarus has curated the Day Zero album, which assembles thirteen unheard tracks from Rebels past and present into a cohesive package inspired by the Mayan spirit. Although there is a faint drop of irony in capitalising on a supposedly deeply spiritual event with a commercial venture, however if you sidestep all of the cosmic back-story what you’re left with is an album of solid, uniquely atmospheric and in some cases, downright beautiful songs.
Crosstown veteran Pier Bucci opens proceedings with the wonderfully eclectic, melodically dense “Mayas” before handing over to the restrained, slow burning “Prophecy” from Quenum, which flawlessly weaves wind instruments and chants over lush, constantly evolving pads to effectively nail the spirit of the album.
Arguably, the contributions to the album that are the strongest are, at their core, the most formulaic. Francesca Lambardo’s “Cosmic Dancer”, for example, is not just a fantastic assimilation of atmospheres and understated percussion, it’s a great dancefloor record. If you’re likely to hear any of this album played out, it’ll undoubtedly be this track you hear and remember.
Elsewhere, contributions from Mathew Jonson, Fur Coat and Jay Haze playfully intertwine organic flourishes with often bruising electronic beats, occasionally to great effect, whilst Mike Shannon, Metrika and Eduardo Castillo deliver more laid back cuts. Closing moments from Thugfucker & Shaun Reeves and Acid Pauli & Nu in particular stand out as having best harmoniously paired ethereal, otherworldly soundscapes with a backdrop of familiar but unrecognisable synths and percussion, finishing the album on a high.
Day Zero is best approached as a concept album. It daringly treads the boards between dance music and electronica, sometimes leaving the album as a whole confused. Its thirteen contributors, however, all seemed to have reveled in the challenge of fusing the Mayan spirit and electronic music, creating a refreshingly unique LP that is certainly not without charm. Whilst we can’t vouch for its cosmic properties, we can confirm it makes a splendid soundtrack for the dawn of a new day.
Damian Lazarus – Day Zero (Sound Of The Mayan Spirit) – Download Below
01. Pier Bucci – Mayas
02. Quenum – The Prophecy
03. Mathew Jonson- In Seach of a New Planet with Oxygen
04. Metrika – Jeel, k’eex
05. Francesca Lombardo – Cosmic Dancer
06. Fur Coat – Greed, Insanity
07. Fosky & BOg – Chestionabil
08. Jay Haze – 2012
09. Eduardo Castillo – Ahometa Kuyaxi
10. Navid Izadi ft. KMLN – Kurandero
11. Mike Shannon – Sunrise
12. Thugfucker & Shaun Reeves – Timewave Zero