Seattle rapper Juzo’s new EP Anima 01 was sent to me not long after its release, and was described in the press release as an ‘ambient and cyberpunk-inspired project’ with lyrical topics ‘about finding hope amidst the desolate nature of addiction and depression’. As it turns out, these descriptions couldn’t be any more on the money.
A quick glance at the tracklist here reveals that every song has at least one guest vocalist, and while this may initially seem like a strange decision the artist’s focus on collaboration actually results in nothing but incredible music. There is significant musical diversity to be found here too, with opener ‘Ghost in My Shell’ and heavenly duet ‘Fvith’ being the major outliers from a vocal perspective. The rest of Anima 01’s songs are colossal cyber-trap bangers, and on every track here the EP’s eerie, futuristic aesthetic can be felt. Juzo is an extremely talented vocalist who more than proves his worth as a singer on the aforementioned opening cut, his lonely, robotic vocals threatening to be swallowed by the looming darkness of the production.
On ‘SIBYL’, the rapper engages in less obvious pop-culture plundering, basing his lyrics on the anime Pyscho Pass. Juzo and guest rapper Rhomar Jhessy speak on isolation and painful childhood memories, as well as questioning one’s religious beliefs (a prominent theme throughout the remaining four tracks). In ‘The Void’, Juzo states that ‘sin has inhabited’ and that he’s ‘fighting these Baphomets’. Clearly, the rapper’s struggle with his morality is at its strongest on this track, and upon the arrival of Thomas Iannucci’s heavily religious guest verse these themes are highlighted stronger than ever.
As the EP races towards its finale, Juzo continues to mix religious symbolism with video game lore: ‘Adam and Eve in my blood, mind from the grave like the Flood’. On ‘Fvith’ and ‘Jehovah’, the Seattle artist finally stands up to his inner demons and on the latter track continuously screams a refrain of ‘had enough, back out of my sins I done had enough, someone tell the devil better back it up’. This song is the heaviest and most intense song on the project, so it’s only apt that it serves as the epic closer. By the end of the track, Juzo has reignited his relationship with God and has decided to move forward with a more dedicated approach to his faith. While I can’t personally relate, many will be able to and I wholeheartedly applaud Juzo for executing this concept so effortlessly in a musical form.
Whether you’re religiously-inclined or not, Anima 01 is a stellar release. Packed with nerdy lyrical references and a vocal cameo from Hatsune Miku (yes, really), this under 15 minute release is a conceptually riveting and technically marvellous release.
Listen to the project in full below.
Follow Juzo on Twitter here.
– Chris (@108seraph)