Music News

Xela Zaid

Beloved (EP)

(self-released)

Like his Christian name, Xela Zaid has taken the pretty melodies and emotional, solitary songs of the singer-songwriter and turned them inside out. The songs on his second independently released EP, Beloved, ride upon dark, acoustic guitar hooks, backed by the white noise of a transistor radio "played" by noise artist Rat Bastard. Rat's radio manipulation gives the music an eerie quality, similar to the soft hums, rumbles, and buzzes in the soundtrack of a David Lynch film. Zaid's fragile, trembling voice can barely be understood and makes for an instrument as amorphous as the radio's rumble. The EP opens with the upbeat "Satellite Car," driven by Zaid's reverberating acoustic, which sometimes sounds like a bass and guitar at once. Rat's static crackles like a howling electric wind. The ominous "How the Turnips Grow" follows. A slow ebb-and-flow noise buzzes from the radio, while two layers of Zaid's voice echo, one straight and another filtered through a megaphone, as if from some fever dream. The disc seems gripped by a dour mood, but rarely has such unfriendly music sounded so tangible and vivid.

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos (indieethos.com) if not in New Times.