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Rinzen tells a stunning hero’s tale through ‘Forbidden City’ [EP Review + Interview]

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Pressing “play” on a Rinzen production can be equated to stepping into a different universe. From the first hit of percussion to the closing note, the LA-based artist effortlessly lures listeners into his domain and traps them there with distinctively brooding, cinematic soundscapes.

Creative to his core, Rinzen’s purpose as an artist is to venture beyond the realm of dance music. “From an early stage of the project, I realized I wanted to create entire worlds with my tracks. Almost like building a landscape or environment and then telling a story within it,” he explains. Furthermore, his overarching vision involves creating these worlds with a mélange of mediums combined into a single plane.

“I think there are enough artists making purely club music out there — and there’s nothing wrong with that. I see Rinzen as my opportunity to try and make something different: to integrate all my interests such as writing, poetry, film, and music into one creative pursuit.”

Forbidden City marks the first step toward manifesting his artistic purpose. Landing on Mau5trap, the trilogy tells a hero’s tale discovering a secret temple and facing multiple trials within, “the conquering of which leads to a new sense of self-knowledge.”

It begins with its title track, which courses through beds of dramatic, sweeping orchestral elements and a distinctive bass-line. A sense of longing takes over the beginning, before the piece picks up pace to become bolder and adventurous in nature. Indeed, it is the entrance to the “Forbidden City.”

“The title track best exemplifies the overall tone of the EP. It hints at feelings of awe and reverence, yet also features more ominous undertones.”

“Belly of the Beast” brings forth the next chapter of the saga, where the listener, or protagonist, faces their true test. Tension fills the air as roaring synthesizers belt out a menacing melody that is pierced by flutters of keyboard and crisp high hats. If there’s one thing Rinzen does well, it’s certainly conveying a message by clever sonic manipulation.

Finally, Forbidden City closes with the powerful “Triumph of the Human Spirit.” The “beast” has been conquered, and victory is communicated by way of pungent kicks and a soaring breakdown. Yet, a sense of darkness lingers within the piece’s confines, signifying with stark cello accents that the protagonist will never forget what they had overcome.

“Triumph of the Human Spirit” was interestingly enough a triumph for Rinzen himself. He explains how it was the toughest track he had to wrangle with on the EP, and that “it took a marathon 50-hour struggle (over the course of a few days) to complete it.” The finished product ties Forbidden City up in a tidy fashion.

“I’m hugely inspired by Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey,’ which is basically the concept that there is one singular narrative which all our stories and myths are telling. I wanted the tracks, and the track order, to follow this framework.”

Despite the closure of one chapter, however, this is merely the beginning of Rinzen’s story. “If all goes according to plan, he says, “these worlds that I’m creating will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, I plan to bring these worlds on tour and accompany them with film.”

May his own hero’s journey bring success and enlightenment.

Rinzen

Photo credit: Michael Drummond

If we’re not mistaken, Rinzen means “sudden awakening.” What are some awakenings you’ve gone through as an artist?

From an early stage of the project, I realized I wanted to create entire worlds with my tracks. Almost like building a landscape or environment and then telling a story within it.

I think there are enough artists making purely club music out there — and there’s nothing wrong with that. I see Rinzen as my opportunity to try and make something different: to integrate all my interests such as writing, poetry, film, and music into one creative pursuit.

Give us the background story/inspiration behind each song on your Forbidden City EP. Also, get into why you grouped these songs in the way that you did. Is there an overarching story you’re looking to communicate?

“Belly of the Beast” was the first song I ever wrote on my Moog. I finished it right after travelling in Japan, with the beautiful, mystic scenery of Kyoto fresh in my mind.

“Forbidden City,” the title track, best exemplifies the overall tone of the EP. It hints at feelings of awe and reverence, yet also features more ominous undertones.

I wanted a big climactic finish to the EP, and thus “Triumph of the Human Spirit” came about. It was the hardest track to finish. It took a marathon 50-hour struggle (over the course of a few days) to complete it.

I’m hugely inspired by Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey,’ which is basically the concept that there is one singular narrative which all our stories and myths are telling. I wanted the tracks, and the track order, to follow this framework. It’s the idea of being pulled out of your ordinary reality into the unknown and facing a series of trials — the conquering of which leads to a new sense of self-knowledge.

How do you go about choosing names for songs?

I’m very specific about song names, and try to attach them to a concept portrayed by the track. Most of my track names come about from concepts I’ve read about in either fiction or philosophy texts.

You used heavy orchestral elements to help convey emotions in your EP. What draws you to such classical sounds in particular?

There’s something really timeless and enduring about classical music. I find myself listening to it more and more these days. I wanted to incorporate a bit of that influence into the EP. I see it as something that will only become more prominent in my music throughout the years.

Any last thoughts/things you want to say about this EP?

Ultimately, the EP is just the first step in my vision. If all goes according to plan, these worlds that I’m creating will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, I plan to bring these worlds on tour and accompany them with film. Forbidden City is only the beginning.

 

Read More:

Monstergetdown & Rinzen devastate with techno weapon, ‘Paradox’

Rinzen crafts a poignant rework of ATTLAS’s ‘Aspen’

Rinzen provides sinister original debut, ‘Renegade,’ on mau5trap

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