Born out of an underground Buenos Aires party and first launched in 2008, ZZK Records has spent more than a decade at the forefront of Latin American music, carving out space for artists putting a futuristic (and often electronic) spin on classic rhythms and folklore traditions. Along the way, the label spread across the globe and helped launch a few stars—Nicola Cruz, Chancha Vía Circuito, La Yegros and Son Rompe Pera among them—but ZZK’s search for new artists, sounds and perspectives is never complete.
ZZK Sound Vol. 4 brings together a fresh crop of talent from across Latin America, along with a pair of choice selections from veteran acts Maga Bo (Brazil) and Tremor (Argentina). Compiled by ZZK co-founder DJ Nim—the label’s original A&R (and Chancha Vía Circuito’s older brother), he’d actually taken a five-year hiatus from the project prior to 2020—the compilation’s origins can be traced back to the early days of the pandemic. As the world went into lockdown, he put out a call for submissions, and within three months, he’d received more than 1000 tracks. Nim literally listened to them all, whittling the pile down to his 11 favorites, and after hearing his selections, Grant C. Dull—another ZZK co-founder, who runs the label’s day-to-day operations—couldn’t believe his ears. Nim had done it again. There were no notes, and no changes to the tracklist. ZZK Sound Vol. 4 was quickly put into production.
While previous ZZK Sound compilations were primarily focused on the club, Vol. 4 follows a deeper, more introspective path. It’s not an ambient record—no ZZK release would be complete without drums—but the hypnotic rhythms here are far more concerned with the collective unconscious than the dancefloor. Opening with spellbinding tracks from Pawkarmayta and QOQEQA—both hailing from Perú—the compilation immediately exudes a sort of ritual magic, calling upon both African and indigenous musical traditions while tapping into modern electronic music and a uniquely Latin sense of mysticism. Sebuky, a native Ecuadorian currently stationed in Barcelona, adds a bit more low-end heft to the proceedings, and that percussive weight continues through the similarly transportive contributions of Mangle (Colombia), Cruzloma (Ecuador) and Selvagia (Perú/Argentina via México).
Elsewhere, Yoyoyo transforms the cueca music of his native Chile, Akilin enlists American rapper Bomani Armah to help him explore Afro-Venezuelan traditions and Maga Bo’s “Cadê Zé”—the first Brazilian track to ever appear on a ZZK release—is a bass-loaded (albeit undeniably spiritual) banger. Galo Vermelho (Argentina) delivers a polyrhythmic lesson in digital folklore, following in the footsteps of Buenos Aires outfit Tremor—one of the first acts ever signed to ZZK—who close out the compilation with a rousing bit of almost Lynchian revelry.
At this point, few music fans need to be sold on the appeal of Latin music, but ZZK, which has been operating in this sphere since long before the genre became the “next big thing,” is dedicated to the idea that the potency of these sounds extends well beyond the pop charts. Hopping between continents and recontextualizing rhythmic lineages that date back centuries, ZZK Sound Vol. 4 is both an arresting snapshot of Latin America’s electronic avant garde and a thrilling preview of its next wave.