Release Date: Feb 26, 2013
Record label: Lefse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
Some weeks before the release of Mowgli, 20-year-old Nick Zanca appeared to have a sort of minor freakout over social media, pre-emptively decrying criticism of the record before anyone even had the chance to listen. Fraught with a volatile mix of insecurity and an upstart’s elevated pride, the since-deleted note seemed a natural side-effect of his accelerated case of growing up in public. After all, a little more than a year ago, the college student / bedroom producer dubbed Mister Lies was hardly a blip on the radar.
After breaking out in early 2012 with a pair of buzzed-over EPs, 20-year-old Chicago-based producer Nick Zanca sequestered himself in his family's Vermont lake cottage to record his debut full-length. That seclusion can be heard and felt in the record's dark rhythms and muffled vocals, which give off a persistent air of loneliness. Mowgli is a record defined by its striking, downbeat atmosphere.
Entirely created in his dorm room at the age of 19, the debut Mister Lies album is a dreamy, instrumental electronic album that ties together ethereal field recordings with hip-hop beats and ambient techno. It's apparent that Nick Zanca is still learning to utilize his laptop, but there's a lot of promise here. Though the material is heavily sequenced, the young producer has a knack for arranging, and is determined to march to his own beat, even if that means his music has more in common with '90s downtempo acts than with recent dubstep phenoms.
At a glance, there doesn't appear to be anything terribly original about Chicago's Mister Lies. Surfacing in 2012, the project followed just about every unwritten rule in the up-and-coming, home-schooled electronic producer playbook. The Hidden Neighbors EP-- a seductive, downtempo affair informed by strains of subterranean, laptop-engineered music from the UK-- was released under a cloak of anonymity.
Just as Justin Vernon retreated to a cabin in Wisconsin for his debut LP as Bon Iver, Chicago-based Nick Zanca made his way up to his family’s cabin in Vermont to record Mowgli, his first LP under the name Mister Lies. While the bearded dude isolating himself in the woods to record an album of tender folk songs is a reasonably obvious concept, the cabin approach to electronic production might seem a little off. But after a few listens to Mowgli, the impact of his self-imposed quarantine becomes apparent, Zanca willfully playing the square peg to the genre conventions’ round hole.