5.6.20 by Tony Lien
Modal Zork is the sole moniker of Jojo Nanez – weirdo synth extraordinaire. His work, if you are so far unfamiliar, is highly-defined and concept driven – his various releases documenting alien worlds and their colorful denizens through the expert utilization of hardware synths and effect-drenched vocals. And I don’t just mean that in a metaphorical sense; the punchy, aggressive stabs that Nanez teases out of his keyboards often enough sound more like unnameable, otherworldly instruments altogether (something I think synth designers/manufacturers wish more of their customers would attempt to accomplish) – while his nearly indiscernible vocals emulate zany, extra-terrestrial lifeforms hell-bent on spreading the stories of their people via hyperactive rhythms/sound waves.
“Klug Borp” is Nanez’s latest interstellar excursion – available on tape via Texas label Pecan Crazy. Compared to his previous releases, the composition is next-level (I wrote this particular sentence when I was listening to the song “Zweep”). The track lengths range from thirty seconds to three minutes as per usual, but the overall production work/presentation is fully realized – artful layering, thoughtful dynamics, wide ranges of emotion (see “Plasmx_XRF”) abound. The album even wraps up with a Muppets cover (digital only) – a conclusion that no one would ever expect yet one that acts as a perfect representation of where Nanez comes from aesthetically and nostalgically (his music, to me, is an innocently-twisted ode to childhood sprinkled with a seasoned, fine-tuned sense of what makes left-field experimentation accessible to the limited masses who are willing to take the plunge).
When are The Residents going to reach out and ask him to fake his own death and join the squad? Who knows. Regardless, I’d say he’s well on his way to earning his place in the higher echelons of the outsider canon – where only the most passionate and persistent thrive both by releasing music prolifically and wearing their wheel bearings out multiple times a year due to excessive travel.
Yes, for a good while now he has been on what seems to be an endless tour (he cares deeply for live performance – check out his rad stage setup/getup here). When all of this quarantine business went down, he ended up in San Marcos, Texas – where he will remain until the coast is clear enough to move on. You can support him during these strange times by purchasing his work on his personal Bandcamp if you feel so inclined.