Zoon - Oil Pastel/Dope Sick feat. Cadence Weapon
Fluent rhymes are embedded in a beguiling soundscape.
By Kerry Doole
Zoon - Oil Pastel/Dope Sick feat. Cadence Weapon (Paper Bag Records): Zoon (or Zoongide’ewin) is the creation of Indigenous rock artist Daniel Monkman, who made a real splash with his 2020 debut album Bleached Wavves, one shortlisted for the 2021 Polaris Music Prize.
A brand new Zoon EP, Big Pharma, was released on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, and the timing was no accident, given its potent message. In a label bio, Monkman notes that “Big Pharma is about me trying to bring awareness about the pharmaceutical industry and their lies. I talk about how they destroyed my community of Selkirk, Manitoba and many more small towns and cities.
"A whole generation completely changed in just a matter of five years, Families torn apart and loved ones lost to addiction and overdoses. Our treaty card ensures that our medical insurance is covered but a lot of the time the only medication that’s available for free is the stuff that's the most addictive. I found this alarming and made me connect the dots linked to an underlying form of genocide happening right under our noses.”
The EP's first single, Astum, featured another noted Indigenous artist, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and the new single Oil Pastel/Dope Sick makes use of the talent of hip-hop poet Cadence Weapon. By coincidence, Cadence Weapon beat out Zoon by winning the 2021 Polaris Prize, but there are clearly no hard feelings.
Oil Pastel/Dope Sick begins with orchestral swells of sound, and then Cadence Weapon's fluent rhymes are embedded in the soundscape, to a gently hypnotic effect. This makes for a nice change from the cliched staccato beats of so much hip-hop and reaffirms Monkman's sense of adventure.
The core of Zoon's sound is a fusion of elements from Shoegaze (My Bloody Valentine is a key influence) and Monkman's Ojibway heritage and upbringing. This unique hybrid possesses real potency, one best experienced live (Zoon totally impressed this scribe with its performance at the Due West Festival in Toronto earlier this month).
His debut album Bleached Wavves (which was shortlisted for the 2021 Polaris Music Prize) is an autobiographical journey. A testament to Daniel's patience and perseverance, along with his ability to reverse engineer with minimal gear (his guitar and a digital delay pedal)
Additionally, Zoon recently collaborated with Apple Music to record an Apple Music Home Session entirely in Dolby Atmos (and mixed by labelmate Jonathan Kawchuk). This exclusive EP includes stripped-down versions of two tracks off Zoon's acclaimed 2020 album Bleached Wavves as well as a dreamy cover of Sooner by My Morning Jacket.
Zoon played Calgary's Sled Island yesterday and has shows at The Great Hall in Toronto, supporting Fucked Up, July 6 & 7, then festival shows in Yellowknife and Sudbury, plus gigs in Montreal, Mont Louis, and Gaspe. Check itinerary here
Publicity: Julie Booth, Freshly Pressed (Canada)
Kip Kouri, Tell Your Friends PR (US)