Alexis Georgopoulos' various solo releases under the name Arp have hopscotched between genres ranging from minimalist synthesizer meditations to fuzz-soaked Krautrock to Eno-esque art pop. Released in 2018, Zebra is yet another stylistic shift, this time exploring a sort of lush, cosmic Fourth World chamber jazz informed by '80s Japanese pop production and light synth-boogie. The pieces are generally sophisticated, weaving strands of melodies throughout complex polyrhythms, yet there's enough space so that they always feel like they're levitating. The percussion seems to consist of more marimbas than standard drum kits, and most of the album's otherworldly textures and melodies are played on electronic instruments including Mellotron and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), as well as tape-delay effects. It all produces a curious effect -- there's something slightly alien about it, but it's also accessible enough to seem familiar and soothing. The album's most melodic moments, such as the sunny Balearic daze of "Fluorescences," make perfect soundtracks for daydreaming at the beach. Then there are headier exercises such as "Folding Water," which threads synth bass notes through echo-enhanced tribal drums, or the sideways rhythm and quasar synths of "Moving Target." The ensemble stretches out on the lovely, unrestrained jazz piece "Reading a Wave," where drums, piano, and nimble bass trickle in while various analog synths swirl and shimmer. "Fiji" is the album's playful finale, with a simple chord shifting from side to side over a splashy bongo rhythm while spacy synth tones bubble over. As unconventional as it is relaxing, Zebra is perhaps Arp's most inviting sound-world yet.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson