There are no frills on Zoé Zoe's Church EP. There are no leftfield curveballs, ambitious bendings of genre, or avant-garde experimentations—and that's certainly not to the record's detriment. Rather than attempting to create a daring new sound or spearhead a micro-movement, the elusive Lithuanian producer born Mantas Stonkus has achieved a more modest (but no less demanding) accomplishment: he has crafted an expertly tailored bundle of deep-house tunes on what appears to be his first official release as Zoé Zoe.
His outstanding work has not gone unnoticed. Most notably, the titular track was featured on the recent DJ-Kicks mix by house phenom Maya Jane Coles, where it was placed alongside cuts by venerated artists like Claro Intelecto and Virgo Four. "Church" is a big-room house bomb with a lot of flash and intensity packed into its blazing cord stabs and booming, garage-leaning drums and bass. The cramped mix gives way to a wobbly refrain built around a woozy melody and pitched vocals that sound like they're being played in reverse, which pits the hard-hitting 130-bpm percussion against moments that seem to be moving in slow motion. In the end, the song's fierce, charging vigor is matched only by its precision.
Outside of the EP's centerpiece, Stonkus' work remains airtight. "Hollow" is a more eerie, quieter take on the sounds he tackled on "Church," with wavering synths and softer, shuffling garage percussion. The record's final track, "October," employs similarly dizzy synth pads and breathy percussion while Markus assembles a tiny melody beneath layers of soaring cords, pulsing kicks, and foggy vocals, but the song's tempered mood and attention to minute loveliness keeps the proceedings from going stale. It's a fine example of why the Church EP stands out—not because its sounds are entirely novel, nor because it makes strides down some less-traveled musical paths, but due to its mastery of established sounds and forms. None of Zoé Zoe's tricks are new, but they are certainly well executed.