Track x Track: Fractures - Shift

Track x Track: Fractures - Shift

Naarm/Melbourne-based songwriter & producer takes us through his album variegated electronic compositions

For over a decade Melbourne-based Mark Zito has been sculpting electronic sounds as Fractures, covering everything from leftfield pop to more stomping club vibes, always with an emphasis on the emotional and the melodic. After dropping a string of dope singles, his second album Shift is now out to the world, a record that sees him building on his signature sounds, while also pushing boundaries and exploring a wide range of styles with a consistent palette.

From poppy vocal deep house to driving techy flavours, soaring breakbeats, 80s electro influences, downtempo beats and more, Shift does just what the title says - shifts between different styles in a cohesive manner, with Zito's ethereal vocals tying it all together across his lush & layered compositions.

Speaking on his new album, Zito says “Shift represents change for me … Each song is the result of different individual influences, artists that overlapped with my sensibilities, and of me exploring different approaches to electronic music. The whole album represents the progress of that journey of learning that I’m still on.“

To dive even deeper into the record, Zito was kind enough to take us through it track by track - listen and get to know!

BURNT

Working as a musician, up until a certain point I seemed to have things right themselves without my doing. They wouldn’t fall into place per se, but any wrinkle would smooth out somehow until for whatever reason they didn’t. I felt a disconnect from what I was doing, and I didn’t know why, the chorus kind of encapsulates all of that, wanting to go back when things were better.

The production came from a throwaway idea that was probably the first proper foray into purely electronic music I’d made. I’d started featuring on other people’s music for the first time, Lane 8 being one of them and it inadvertently introduced me to a subgenre of electronic music I hadn’t really encountered. So I guess what I’m saying is this is my best impersonation of Lane 8.

DO NOTHING

Continuing on a theme, I’m looking forward from a point of perceived helplessness at two alternate endings. One with what I envision as the right outcome and one with something less than that, and the overwhelming feeling that I’m being drawn towards the latter. Feeling like I’m not being heard, and that I should be. Like there are things I deserve that aren’t being realised and hoping, maybe pointlessly, that something will intervene. That something might hear me. There’s not a heap of subtlety to it.

This song, or at least the instrumental side of it, presented a challenge. I’d laid out chords, beat, sounds, and a vocal but something wasn’t sitting right. So I farmed it out. Simon Lam came in and stripped it for parts really. Taking the sounds and making them better, made it groove harder, giving the song direction where there was very little. Basically the only collaborative effort on the album but something I’m looking to do more of because it’s one of my favourites on the album.

MAYBE LATER ON

A change of pace. This is about a relationship not being what it was. Could be romantic, could be a friendship. Something is being held back and there’s an unease, neither wanting to broach the uncomfortability of the situation or the tension that’s hanging over it. The relationship persists despite it, staggering on through the unease and the disconnect, and it hurts to know there was a time it was something good.

This is probably as close to a pure ‘pop’ song as I produced. I think I needed to clear it out of my system from the last few releases before I delved into slightly less radio-friendly territory. There was an emphasis on it being simultaneously clean and dirty at the same time. Having hooks but making them removed from the usual fare I dish up - that’s where the murkiness of the chorus comes in.

MEDIUM

Trying to describe the moments where a connection is made. Being drawn to someone and wanting to know if they feel the same seemingly irresistible pull, hoping they do. There’s not much else to it, I just wanted to convey the feeling and the setting through the production of almost being submerged in the feeling and the environment, the formant shifted vocal being a huge part of that. This was the first song of the album where I had tried another approach to vocal treatment than just presenting my voice cleanly and clearly like I usually would. This ended up permeating the album on the whole, almost feeling like another character and opening up a whole other world of moods I could explore. So I did.

CONNECT

This is about a memory that won’t fade and a connection that meant more to one than the other. Somehow everything seems poignant, little reminders dogging whoever this is. A feeling they can’t shake even though it was never meant to be.

This one basically was born around an instagram drummer I pinched a pattern off. It’s in there somewhere in the background during the chorus, and I worked backwards building the track from there. I wanted to lift the BPM beyond the 120 range to make things a bit more frenetic. I still wanted it to be pretty though. You know me. And yearning. All the usual bits, I am who I am.

STRANGERS

Strangers is about introversion, and introverts, and that I am one, and trying my best to assure myself that it’s okay to want to be on my own every now and then. Or all the time. It kind of turned into an anthem of sorts in the way I wrote the chorus. A catch cry type thing for the disconnected.

I won’t pretend the production on this one is anything beyond me trying to muscle in on Rufus Du Sol’s territory. Crisp and brash sounds. Was an experiment that I enjoyed but not a sound I’ll persevere with. Just a nice little treat.

LAST

A fun song, about having fun, and then the fun turning into something more serious. That was my brief to myself. A one night thing basically leading to something more. I tried to get into the mindset of someone who has actually had a one night stand. It was a nice journey to go on in my mind, and my mind only.

I dug into the 90s house vibes for this one, wanted to make something sunny to counter the heavy gear I usually roll out. Piano stabs, bouncy shuffle, nice bass groove. All the parts. Just want to make people move with this one

SECRET

This is basically how I imagined how a pop format song might sound if Burial had something to do with it. Dark and heavy, messed up vocals, and kind of otherworldly thematically. Truth be told this is about being on mushrooms and how expansive it can be, how everything is heightened during, and missing that feeling when it subsides. I tried my best to convey the sensations that come from it and how your perspective is shifted entirely, in a literal and figurative sense. Things seem more distant, colours react differently, lights bloom. Everything is somehow magnified and you feel weightless and it feels like the first time every time. I love it. Everything is new and strange but beautiful.

BEREFT

This is a linear narrative which I don’t do much of. Two people’s paths crossing, an intense, brief courtship. Maybe they’ve got other places they could be, other people they should be with, but they end up with each other and then they part ways. Nice while it lasted type of thing. Hard not to be romantic about something like that, and get swept up in it, and maybe confuse it for something it wasn’t.

The music kind of echoes the ebbs and flows of the brief exchange, the strings were a challenge but I wanted it to be sweeping, and nothing sells emotional weight like strings. Definitely influenced by Kiasmos, Olafur Arnalds, et al. on this one. Organic sounds, desk taps, pen click clacks, piano. I think I needed a break from the world of synthesisers for a song, so I gifted myself this one.

TACT

I often forget how much I enjoy instrumentals. Listening to them namely, so I went head first into writing one without much in the way of ideas as to how it would or should sound. I just knew it had to maintain interest without a vocal for the entirety, a challenge for me as I’m a little sing song boy. I probably more visualised where this was hit hardest, rather than visualising what it could represent, or the imagery it could provoke.

The song’s closing, I just saw people heaving, and powerful lights from the third person perspective at the back of whatever this place was. It’s kind of joyful despite the darkness. Like a weird unity.

I don’t know who I was drawing from for this one, maybe a true original of mine, but I’m sure there’s a few people I could point to if I thought about it. Max Cooper rings a bell. More in the way he makes things evolve - I wanted the automation and the builds and the little textural moments to complement the synth motifs I was building throughout without overshadowing it, slowly and patiently building, then taking away, then doing the same until an ultimate climax.

TURN/ROSE

This song has two phases. It enters in the midst of a realisation, or at least the acknowledgment of an imminent breakdown and the elements that lead to it. Cracks that start to appear, turn into chasms, pushing people further apart until it’s untenable. As the rupture reaches its peak, the song kind of pauses for air and enters the new phase. Call it the aftermath. Everything can be seen in clarity, removed from the encapsulating emotions that fuel heartbreak and dissonance and that can colour the perspective of it. Seeing that even though it was ultimately doomed, there was good in it.

It was worthwhile and the connection was genuine despite its conclusion. I liked the idea of kind of tacking on an epilogue to the usual break up song, because like most people I’m capable of harbouring resentment over the acute moments, as opposed to taking a look from further back. This song was in fact two separate ideas I pieced together - the name is the give away there, and that’s where the concept of the lyrics was conceived on the back of. I liked the imperfection of the sounds, everything kind of warbling away, covered in dust. And the duel crescendos, both totally different moods, both kind of sonic signposts of the narrative.

Sometimes I’m clever.

          - Mark Zito (Fractures), June 2023

Fractures Shift Artwork

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