Chicago-based Zavala has emerged over the past few years as one of the most instantly recognizable producers in independent hip hop. Raised on the outskirts of the Windy City, the multi-instrumentalist Zavala has been building dense beats for 15 years with a vast arsenal of vintage synths, analog effects pedals and a fluid incorporation of disparate genres.
In 2009, Zavala teamed with Pacific Northwest emcee Onry Ozzborn of Grayskul fame to form Dark Time Sunshine and release their debut EP Believeyoume, followed by 2010’s critically-heralded Vessel full-length and the tour-only Cornucopia. These moody, richly-textured releases combined the sinister with the melodic and placed Zavala firmly alongside Factor and Blue Sky Black Death in the pantheon of Fake Four Inc. production royalty. Around the same time, Fieldwerk Recordings, a Chicago label co-founded by Zavala, put out the vinyl-only split LP Canciones Modernas. This joint effort with PNS of the Molemen saw Zavala’s left-field boom bap brilliantly paired with world music. As Zavala’s name continued to grow, The Dark Time Sunshine Vessel Instrumentals were released in 2011 via Fake Four and Fieldwerk.
Dark Time Sunshine’s sophomore long player ANX would follow one year later and usher in further critical praise for its spacey psych-rap production. SYFFAL described Zavala’s beats as “OK Computer on mushrooms.” The lush, vibrant album picked up momentum as he and Onry toured the U.S. with Aesop Rock, and popular demand has once again led to a DTS full-length seeing the light of day in instrumental form. With a palette of ARP, SCI, Korg and Oberheim, Zavala splices layer uponlayer of meticulously-crafted synths with gut-punching drum breaks on ANXtrumentals.
The surreal art of Michael Scheel, who designed the album artwork, was running through Zavala’s mind as he diagrammed the 14-track record. His contemplative soundscapes on ANXtrumentals contain traces of everything from jazz to progressive rock to pop. As one half of Dark Time Sunshine, Zavala has toured extensively with the likes of Aesop Rock, Sole and the Skyrider Band, Pigeon John, AWOL One and DJ Abilities.