Joao Ceser - BRZ (EP Review)


Being able to find value in the regular is a precious gift. Poets need this skill, not just to help them give meaning to nature but to life. Someone who knows this is Italian producer Joao Ceser. It's easy to envision the Brianza-based producer sitting in his studio at the foot of the Alps, crafting mixes with composure and an unhurried appreciation of the world and sounds around him. 

"There is no need to travel an infinite long distance to find beauty and peace, and that's why I'm grateful for living here, in Brianza," Ceser says in the press release for BRZ, the final EP in his .brz trilogy. Though not all of us can live in the idyllic Italian countryside, Ceser brings a sense of his environment to his mixes, built upon judiciously simple percussion, uplifting melodies that repeat hypnotically, and lofty electronic experiments which always land on their feet. Released on the ever-reliable 51Beats label, the three tracks spin by with gentle vigour. Suppose you're travelling through the Italian countryside, and you catch a glimpse of the sunrise over the alps; that sense of connection to something more significant is found in Ceser's music. The music reaches out for meaning, sees it, and then explodes in colour. I usually don't like to get poetic in my reviews, but here it's necessary. There is a sense of poetry in Ceser's mix of utility and economy. Let's call it poetronic. 

The hazy opening track "039" runs for just two and a half minutes, but its time is used wisely, pulsating with phased bass, a simple piano line, and sparkly decoration. The title track is an accessible fare that sees simple elements brought together with precision, albeit glued with one of the wonkiest synths you'll likely hear all year. Nevertheless, this disoriented play is always within bounds. On "MB", Ceser's synth work is controlled, laboriously crafted and fascinatingly composed. The eight-minute-plus track teases release for its first three and a half minutes, building with ever-warping arpeggios, dynamically unreliable percussion, and a foreboding lead synth line before effortlessly segueing into ultra-danceability. This transition is done twice, though the second iteration is darker, adding a complex layer of emotion. It feels like a trick. What at first appears to be clever but innocuous techno develops with rich shades into an impressive mood that follows you around after it's finished.    

BRZ by Joao Ceser is built on a foundation of repetition. However, the repetitive elements, the drum loops and clockwork sequences, can be interpreted as a statement on appreciating the ordinary; stop anticipating the future, and embrace what's already around you. Just like you don't need to be in paradise to see the sunrise, you don't need to be in Brianza to listen to Joao Ceser.