An elephant’s strength, hidden behind a calm and gracious demeanor, is revealed only when absolutely necessary. That’s exactly the case with a recent high-octane release from Chicago bass producer ZLEN, demonstrating an exciting glimpse into this up-and-comer’s underlying ferocity.

Called Elephants, this two-track EP quickly gains momentum just seconds into the opening track “Talk.” It proves itself to be much more than just talk after a staccatoed build up releases into an energetic and highly varied sequence of quick, synth-heavy phrases. The use of prominent low-end wubs to break this kinetic inertia exhibits an evolution of ZLEN’s style established in earlier compositions like “SHiFT” from last year’s “goin in blind” EP.

The EP’s second song, “Come To Baby,” repurposes the opening track’s leftover intensity into a muffled but crescendoing intro. The drop sinks deep with purposeful drum design, much deeper than its predecessor but echoing themes in synth sound and staccatoed articulation. A double-time drum break halfway into the track hints at a massive second drop — itself unveiled to be a certified neck-breaker from top to bottom.

When a producer puts as much ingenuity into a second drop as they did the first, it shows both an awareness of song structure as well as a desire to keep their audience engaged in every moment. We’re not surprised to see these traits in a promising mind like ZLEN, who this past February opened for EPROM and TRUTH at Chicago’s The Mansion, but it’s always refreshing and important to note. Elephants exposes his underlying power, and has us eagerly awaiting the next release.


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