Shrouded in a cloud of mystery in the early days of his career, Zhu wanted to focus any and all attention on his music, not his image. In an age where superstar knob-twirlers and button-pushers dominated the ever-growing EDM scene, he wanted his music to speak for itself. And so without much fanfare, he quietly started dropping songs on the Internet -- dubbed the Genesis Series -- and let the buzz build by itself. Starting in September 2015, he released a song a week, each one featuring an inspired guest spot from all corners of the musical world. Among them, U.K. dance duo AlunaGeorge, DJ A-Trak, Ohio rap crew Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Treme brass bandman Trombone Shorty, Skrillex, and the newly solo alt-R&B crooner, Daniel Johns, formerly of Silverchair. The tracks were collected into one EP and, indicative of the exciting roster of talent, the songs are some of the more interesting and thrilling jams to be found in the 2015 electronic scene. Insular, intelligent, and addictively catchy, there are no gigantic drops here or played-out house rave-ups. There are, however, guitar solos and sax breakdowns to keep things interesting. Taking notes from '90s house and a little trip-hop, Zhu crafts deft pop songs disguised as EDM -- much like contemporaries Disclosure -- nailing the combination of eccentric guest and clever production. Neither Zhu nor his friends get lost in the other's vibe and each track sounds like an organic product of an exciting collaboration among artists. From the throb of "Automatic" to the foot-shuffling jam of "Hold Up, Wait a Minute," the Genesis Series is evidence that dropping singles and short-players may be a sustainable option for artists who want to get their music out there without worrying about album leaks or lag time between releases. This EP is an enticing start.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung