Juzo has leveled up.
I first heard of the musician and visual artist when I reviewed his first EP, ANIMA 01, in early 2021. Since then, Juzo has clearly settled into a sound all his own with the release of his sophomore project, Dystopia 02, in September of this year.
Juzo continues to communicate with listeners in a deeply personal way in this next entry to his story. “This project stemmed from a very dark season of my life where I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness,” the musician said on Instagram. “There were many hardships and circumstances that led me to doubt my long-held beliefs, and through that birthed a foreign sense of bitterness and resentment.”
Through the narrative of Dystopia, Juzo manages to do what many Christian artists have struggled with: tell a story that includes a hopeful, redemptive ending without pretending to have found all the answers. “Lead me to you through these voids I tread / ‘Cause I know my faith has been lost in dread,” Juzo sings on the last song from the project, “Deus Ex Machina.” “I feel like nothing; searching for something.”
- The fallen / N-01R 魂
- Monster (feat. Shxrda)
- 99 But a Reverie
- Deus Ex Machina
Standout tracks for me include “The fallen / N-01R 魂” and “Monster.”
“The fallen / N-01R 魂”
This track sets the tone for the project masterfully, painting a picture of the world we’re entering almost like an audio-only short film. According to the liner notes, this track features additional vocals from a host of other indie CHH artists, from Lazarus! to Emmanuel LKD. If someone asked me which Juzo song epitomizes his style, I’d probably recommend this one.
Easily the catchiest song on Dystopia. Driving drums and bright synths combine with dark chords to mirror the lyrical content. Juzo plays a lot with using different vocal textures to shape the narrative, and a feature from Shxrda helps to that end.
To quote my past self, “Juzo’s songs are refreshingly original, masterfully crafted, and very personal. The branding and soundscaping of the album are on point.” All these details are still true, but if ANIMA was an experimental venture, Dystopia is the fruition of those experiments.
Even though Juzo’s style doesn’t quite mesh with my usual day-to-day listening habits, I like this project more with each playthrough. I believe that any listener will benefit from giving Dystopia 02 a spin.
Check out Dystopia 02 below and let us know what you think of the project! Find tracks from Juzo and more on our [FReSH PiCKS] YouTube playlist!