When Zach Gray’s (vocals and guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski’s (piano and vocals) previous project, Lotus Child ended, the duo continued onward as the Zolas, and with their latest project, the duo of Gray and Dobrzanski have continued a reputation for well-crafted, post-modern pop. Their debut effort as the Zolas, Tic Toc Tic released back in 2009 had a glitzy, cabaret sound; however, the band’s latest effort Ancient Mars released last year through Light Organ Records is a sonic departure as their sound incorporates piano, chiming guitar, swirling electronics and propulsive beats in a similar fashion to fellow Canadians, the Darcys.
The band recently released the official video for their latest single, album title track, “Ancient Mars.” The video starts with vocalist Zach Gray singing in a mournful falsetto, “I want to believe in time travel/that one day, I’ll come back to you,” as we follow a woman wandering around unknown streets with a sense of awe, and snapping pictures of sights with her iPhone. In almost every sense, she’s a relatively normal women in her 20s.
But the mournful sense behind the song is actually warranted for the video, as the video is heavily influenced by the strange, and equally mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam.
Lam, a college student from Vancouver was in Southern California on vacation, having made stops in San Diego and planning to continue to Santa Barbara when she disappeared. Two weeks later, her body was found in a cistern of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, when hotel guests began complaining about the taste and color of the water. (Interestingly, the Cecil Hotel has an infamous history – serial killers, Richard Ramirez, famously known as “the Nightstalker” and Jack Unterweger once lived there; and the hotel was known in the 50s and 60s for a number of suicides; and reportedly, “the Black Dahlia”, Elizabeth Short reportedly may have hung out there.)
In any case, the video imagines what Lam’s last few days and hours may have been, capturing the small pleasures and joys that often come from traveling and wandering alone. And although the video’s protagonist is in some way a stranger in a foreign land, it portrays her as a bright, curious and very average young woman. In her, you will likely see something of your younger self – or of yourself now, if you’re in your 20s.
But simply put it’s a gorgeous and haunting song with a gorgeous and haunting video.