Astralwerks released ZHU’s third studio album, DREAMLAND 2021, in (unsurprisingly) 2021 amid the disruption caused by the pandemic. While he recorded the album at home in the USA, lockdown didn’t prevent the GRAMMY®-nominated artist from enlisting a vast cast of guests, including pristine pop singer Yuna, R&B experimentalist Tinashe and sleek house producer Channel Tres, among others. With all these collaborators in tow, DREAMLAND 2021 feels like a manifestation of the communal feeling of the dance floor, the warmth of a night dancing with your closest friends.
View the visualisers that were created for each of the album’s 12 tracks HERE.
Holiday Records was enlisted to press this iconic double-LP album on solid orange vinyl, straight for export to the USA. Buy the vinyl and other merch through ZHU's website HERE.
Highlights from DREAMLAND 2021 include “Distant Lights,” which builds toward reckless, ecstatic abandon. In the final moments, ZHU murmurs a few lines that serve as something of a mission statement for the LP: “I don’t believe that music, dancing, the freedom of expression will be suppressed for much longer. They can’t—that’s against human nature.” The tracks that follow build on this idea, in both the primal spirit of the instrumentals and the desperate yearning of the vocals, which come from ZHU and his collaborators.
On “Yours” feat. Arctic Lake, ZHU’s pensive keyboards shift to a simmering rhythm as he trades vocals with the UK alt-pop artist Arctic Lake, evoking the uneasy tension between love in the moment and the aching for love everlasting.
View the official video for “Yours” HERE. The elegant “Sky Is Crying” feat. Yuna, which has amassed nearly 9 million global streams on Spotify lone since its release in late March 2021, won praise from Billboard, which observed, “Zhu has always been a vessel for the dark and surreal, and… ‘Sky Is Crying’ meets an age of hope and despair with somber groove.” His 2020 collaboration with Tinashe, “ONLY,” was hailed by Stereogum as a “dark electronic pop track built
around reverberating keyboard arpeggios and an increasingly frenetic thump.” Dancing Astronaut said, “‘ONLY’ is a blend of ominous undertones with an alluring edge.”
“DREAMLAND 2021 is about looking forward and creating a version of the future we want to exist in,” ZHU explains.