Tony Zapien-7 Finger Bird Deity

Tony Zapien
7 Finger Bird Deity
ZAPNOW Records

7 Finger Bird Deity is the first solo album by Tony Z with a production focus and is described as a “trip hop” inspired album that features various guest vocalists including Jenni Potts and Matt Goodwin (from The Bad Tenants). Available since the end of July, the album is released by ZAPNOW Records, which is a collective of artists based in Bellingham, Seattle and Los Angeles. The group focuses on primarily hip hop but also ventures into a plethora of genres from dubstep to metal to electronic focused tunes. Tony is the founder of the collective and consequently had a wide assortment of talented friends to reach out to for contributions to the album.

At first, 7 Finger Bird Deity feels rather confusing. Each track sounds different and finding commonality between them is difficult. The album is definitely well crafted and sound quality is crisp. But the focus is what was difficult to initially determine. To gain some understanding, I reached out to the source of all things trendy-cool: Urban Dictionary. And immediately clarity was gained!

Trip hop:  “A blend of electronica and down-tempo hip-hop, urban and ethereal, street and ambience. Thought provoking, sensual, and deep. Often features string section and/or brass section. Can be either instrumental or with female vocals. Occasionally with rap. trancy and smooth. Often jazzy. Sometimes features turntablism / scratching. It’s head nodding music.”

This genre description gives the ideal umbrella for the album. Tony Z encompasses all of the elements that are described. But a lack of general stylistic uniformity between tracks should be acknowledged and accepted. The album starts off purely instrumental with “86 Times 2”. As delicate vocals intermingle with steady beats, the album continues decidedly in a softer direction. “Meaningless Trinkets” is undoubtedly my favorite on the album. It feels refreshingly comprehensive, with strong male vocals supported by consistent piano and bass. That track also marks a shift in the mood of the album, as a more intense focus starts taking over. It reaches a peak with the final track, “7 Finger Bird Deity”. Listeners are left with an unusual and unexpected surge of energy, as dubstep, rap and metal are combined to end things with a definite bang.