O Chão do Parque
Zé Menos

O Chão do Parque is a full-length album dreamed-up by the portuguese composer, rapper and mixing engineer Zé Menos. The record is an exceedingly personal art work reflecting on growth, education and life cycles as witnessed by the leaves of a Liquidâmbar in his park. 

The music’s intimate quality goes down to the technicals – the album being fully conceived by himself, from composition and writing, down to production, mixing and mastering. I’d say I definitely have a penchant for music works with this authorship quality. Despite my respect for the powerhouse that the creative/production cycle of a song can be, I deeply feel like there is a very performative aspect to pouring one’s artistry into every aspect of a work’s production – the results tend to have a grandeur that really affirms recorded music as an artform, rather than a supporting act to gigs.

Its physical form is a small precious book that features beautiful artwork by multidisciplinary artist Teresa Arega and a single Liquidâmbar leaf.

  • Production Assistance
  • Released 2019
  • Released through Biruta Records
The nerdy parts:

It wouldn’t make sense for me to take much credit for the record’s production at all. Despite that, doing production assistance or co-production for this work was special enough to warrant writing about it. I feel like co-production is caring enough to listen and enter someone else’s dream without bringing much of yourself into it. It’s not imposing ideas onto the work, but being willing to embark in someone else’s journey and imagination. Assisting someone in the production of a track means that bringing the honesty and perspective an author can’t have.

Put simply, the work meant going through all the music in its various phases of development, finding clarity on the intention and providing careful foresight on which ideas haven’t been translated into the work yet.

If you listen to his previous records, Zé’s rap background is clear. O Chão do Parque (The Park’s Ground) contains the series of moments in which he began to transcend genre tropes and bringing identity and artistic practice into the music. Mar Morto is my favorite track precisely for that reason. When I first listened to it, it was a complete break from anything he had ever done before. It was a special moment for the album. At the time we were regularily meeting in this coffee place in Porto that lets you sit sideways, facing the street, and watching people going about. We’d usually stay until late and have large dinner in this lovely restaurant. One of those days he showed up with the laptop and played me that track. That was probably the point at which I understood it was going to be a step up in terms of composition.

There is a two year long email thread where we discussed a lot of core issues of the record and how to release it. It was ecstatic to later witness how many of the dreamy and somewhat naive things we wrote about played out. For example, Zé was at the time very concerned about controlling the first contact a listener has with a piece of music. So at of the process, the release took place in a cinema room — people sat there and spent time with nothing but the record and some very minimal shots of the Park it narrates.

O Chão do Parque