Following one of the most traumatic periods of her life which also led to one of her most artistically prolific, Alison Lewis is back as her solo alter-ego Zoe Zanias to present ‘Chrysalis’.

As the title of the album suggests, ‘Chrysalis’ is a rebirth. Her emotional catharsis to music is ever present, but there is also an emergent avant-pop sensibility providing hope, despite the dark times that the world finds itself with a new Cold War and environmental catastrophe looming.

Alison Lewis made her name as a member of the acclaimed minimal synth duo LINEA ASPERA with Ryan Ambridge. While they delivered an excellent comeback album ‘LPII’ in 2020, her focus has since been as ZANIAS with the most recent album ‘Unearthed’ emerging in 2021.

‘Chrysalis’ was seeded by a number of unfortunate events in Lewis’ life but using her own music as therapy, she has weaved a cocoon of hope from the despair. Song topics include the human condition, burnout, disillusionment, bereavement and the toxicity of capitalism. Written and recorded between her adopted home of Berlin and the rainforest of Queensland in Australia, despite the various foods for thought, this is the possibly the most accessible ZANIAS album yet.

The excellent ‘Simulation’ opens and is a bittersweet ode to Berlin where “This city is a fable, nowhere else to go. This city has enabled us all and it’s breaking my soul”. Despite the introspection as expressed by a hauntingly contralto vocal, the backdrop glistens. Capturing “a broken reality” where “everything’s shattering”, a joyful escapist euphoria counters those feelings.

The swaying avant pop of ‘Metrics’ is beat-centric, ghostly yet danceable with a catchy buzz. Meanwhile if Madonna had more gothic tendencies around her ‘Bedroom Stories’ period, the dark and ethereal ‘Burial’ might have been the end result. Its lush synth strings and voiced-derived layers points towards the “Global Pop” of PRAISE but is much deeper.

With glorious arpeggios and lush synth strings, ‘Lovelife’ is wonderfully trance, bolstered with bass guitar by live bandmate Laura Bailey aka NEU-ROMANCER while an array of pitch-shifted voice samples act as an abstract lead vocal before the actual one kicks in. With ominous tones reminiscent of THE CURE’s ‘A Forest’, ‘Closing’ uses a number of interesting vocal treatments which provide intensity over the snappy rhythmics.

In a departure, ‘Teatree’ features virtual strums and could be considered an eerie ZANIAS folk ballad while also taking a more sedate approach, ‘Departure’ projects a more atmospheric tone with rung textures and a white noise backbone. To close, the ‘Chrysalis’ title song goes for a full acoustic intro before beats and electronics make their presence felt as our heroine emerges from her sheltered state into her next stage of growth.

Evocative and captivating, ‘Chrysalis’ is the best Zoe Zanias long player to date. Alison Lewis remains independent and true to her art while providing a new found immersive immediacy that will help her music reach a wider audience. That balance is no easy feat to achieve but with some new approaches, she has managed it.

‘Chrysalis’ is released by Fleisch as a limited edition black/blue or blue/green vinyl LP, CD + digital release, available direct from

Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Hidrico Rubens
1st May 2023