Growing up in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, Jernej Zoran spent plenty of time listening to and being influenced by the greatest musicians of the day – Pink Floyd, Queen, Jeff Beck, and The Beatles to name a few. Since then, Zoran has gone on to write and record plenty of his own music – five albums and two EP’s in the last decade, in fact.
His most recent and first international release (premiering 08/20/21) is an instrumental work titled What Happens If I Press This Button?, which Zoran recorded with musicians he worked with online during lockdowns this past fall and winter. It’s a rocking, rolling, bluesy, good-time-having project that makes it quite clear that Zoran has learned quite a bit from the greats who have come before him, both as an instrumentalist and composer.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
The album opens with the title track, and What Happens If I Press This Button indeed sets the tone for the project as a whole. It’s one-half classic blues rock, and one-half classic psychedelic rock, completely full of tasty, intricate riffs, and a driving rhythm. Zoran’s “voice” as a guitarist is apparent from early on, as he speaks in well-thought-out phrases and carefully chosen melodies that show both innate talent and developed skill.
Chance Encounters is a great counter to this – a darker, more somber energy with moments of brightness throughout. With a more prominent bassline and a smattering of keys, this track has a cinematic arc, rising and falling through its dusty, southwestern-esque melodies and soaring guitar duets.
Great Wide Open is a stand-out, with an intro that feels very Americana before diving headfirst into a true blues-rock riff. Astroglider is also particularly notable for its immediately catchy opening riff; it’s got plenty of pop-rock energy with a bit of an edge.
Antares builds its foundation on piano, the alternate sonic texture a welcome addition to the album as a whole. This punchy, hard-hitting psych-rock number is unapologetically spacey, with a heavily effected guitar front-and-center all the while, delivering soaring riff after soaring riff (and featuring some particularly heavy guitar, a subtle drum interlude, and a bass solo for good measure).
We also love Swamp (Oh Yeah) for bringing in a touch of gospel vocals to the mix. Living entirely up to its name, this song embodies the word swampy, with its rich, southern rock tones and absolute twang in the guitar. This one is slow, steady, and just about as bluesy as it gets.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
Meet Me At Midnight is introduced to us by way of gentle fingerpicking-style riffs and soft percussion, slowly adding a wide array of instrumentation and sporadic rhythmic elements as it grows, feeling fuller and more complex by the measure. At its peak, this is a rock anthem guitar solo over a staccato rhythm and layers of instruments beneath it to create a warm, busy – but never chaotic – and intriguing composition. It feels very artistic in execution, perhaps bordering on experimental, but remains entirely digestible and listenable throughout – a testament to Zoran’s compositional skills, no doubt.
Vibrant, explosive, dynamic, and complex – Jernej Zoran is a master of his instrument and a wonderfully well-rounded, bold songwriter. What Happens If I Press This Button? is a brilliant collection of instrumental tracks that will undoubtedly captivate blues and rock fans alike. With his inventive compositions and storylike trajectories to his songs that have a way of feeling familiar without ever being predictable, it’s clear that Zoran has an incredible handle on his craft, and those who can appreciate this artistic, evocative kind of music will do well to mark their calendars for 8/20/2021 when this album will be released internationally.
BELOW: Listen to What Happens If I Press This Button? and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Jernej Zoran by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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