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El Paso-based artist Ziemba shares 'Set in Ice' and 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'

El Paso-based artist, Ziemba – a moniker for songwriter, producer, vocalist and pianist, René Kladzyk – is today sharing a duo of singles, "Set in Ice" and a cover of the holiday favorite, "I'll Be Home For Christmas," the latter of which arrives with a technicolor video directed by Kladzyk. These two tracks follow on the heels of last month's release, "Fear" (tipped at Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Under the Radar, Beats Per Minute and more) arriving as another installment of Kladzyk's forthcoming album, Unsubtle Magic which is due out next Friday, December 10 via Sister Polygon Records. Alongside the new music, Ziemba is also sharing the tracklisting and album artwork.

The holiday season is a horrible time to be grieving. Family gatherings and omnipresent nostalgia can amplify a loved one’s absence, becoming constant reminders of what is lost. René is acutely aware of that feeling. After Kladzyk’s father suffered a stroke in December 2019 and died on January 2, 2020, Christmas associations were radically and permanently transformed. Unsubtle Magic navigates the holiday season through the lens of grief; journeying “a year and a day” from the initial loss through the following Christmas, a grim anniversary.

"Set in Ice" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" provide two crucial cornerstones to the record. The former is a reinterpretation of a song that her father wrote in December 1974 while he worked as a touring musician under the moniker Aurel Roy and the latter is a campy post-punk take on the Christmas classic, "inspired by Cristina’s ZE records releases and the saccharine assault on the senses of a stocking full of candy." Moody synth and twinkling guitar coalesce for "Set in Ice" while a full horn section, provided by Dan Godwin (Gauche, Beauty Pill), is at the center of the festive cover.

Listen to "Set in Ice" HERE When discussing "Set in Ice," René explains: "He [my father] wrote hundreds of songs during his 12-year music career, but when my mom got pregnant he quit music entirely and got a 9 to 5 job at an automobile manufacturing factory in rural Michigan. Growing up, he seldom talked about that chapter of his life -- as a kid I was always curious about it and would try to pry stories out of him. He mostly would just say he didn’t remember, or that it felt like another life. But when I started working as a touring musician he was so proud of me, something I think is a rarity for parents of broke musicians. He would comment on how difficult what I was doing was, and started to share more stories from that time in his life with me. Beyond being his kid, we formed a new bond around our shared trials as working musicians. He was a trusted (and sometimes brutal) advisor and a constant cheerleader. After he died, his songs and lyric notebooks became an important gateway for me to continue expanding my relationship with him. His version of "Set in Ice" was an unadorned piano ballad, but I reimagined it as a driving song, picturing him at the wheel on long solo road trips. It has an endless quality to it that I identify with: “get up every morning just to sing these songs.” Covering his songs feels like a form of magic, a way to bring him back for just a moment, or to catch a glimpse of a version of him I never knew in this life." "I'll Be Home For Christmas" arrives with a tongue-in-cheek visual accompaniment which finds Kladzyk playing the role of a cranky Christmas tree being decorated. "All the wonders of Christmas await “in my dreams,” a place I cannot access in waking life," explains René. "I had a great time hand-sewing my Christmas tree gown for the video and being spun via a lazy susan wrapped in fishing line that I stood atop as the string was slowly pulled." Unsubtle Magic arrives as the latest installment of Kladzyk's Ziemba project following previous albums: True Romantic (2020), Ardis (2019) and Hope Is Never (2016) that found support at Pitchfork, i-D, Paste Magazine, FADER, Stereogum, Vogue, Bandcamp Daily and more. In “unfortunate pandemic style,” this is the first Ziemba album where Kladzyk never stepped foot in a recording studio: all vocals, synths and piano were recorded at her house in El Paso. Full band tracking happened remotely, with Kladzyk virtually attending sessions. Players include previous Ziemba collaborators: Dan Godwin performs bass, drums and full horn sections; he also mixed and co-produced the record. Jay Heiselmann (Grooms, Roya) contributed guitars, Chris Gaskell played bass, longtime collaborator, Elizabeth LoPiccolo played flute and Megan Gould (Lou Reed, David Byrne, Philip Glass) alongside Liam O'Brien (Lizzie No) provided strings.

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