Listen To Zack Rosen
Posthumous full-length, Syzygy, captures genius of NYC artist taken before his time
Zack Rosen lived with schizophrenia, but it didn’t define who he was as an artist.
Though the illness and the medications meant to treat it took his life, dying by suicide at age 30 on May 18, 2019, Rosen refused to let schizophrenia impact his work, which can be compared to such modern pop auteurs as Beck, Jon Brion and even solo John Frusciante.
In fact, Zack, who grew up in upper Manhattan and attended Fieldston High School and Wesleyan University, was an exceptional acoustic and electric bass player and is credited on more than a dozen albums.
Zack picked up the guitar at around age 12 and was largely self-taught. He wrote instrumental music throughout his life, but he did not start writing songs until his twenties. In his last decade he wrote and recorded over three dozen songs, many of them while in the throes of his illness. He continued to perform with excellence as both a singer-songwriter (under the name Syzygy) and as an accompanist on bass until a few hours before he died. Late that afternoon he performed in a concert celebrating the end of Ramadan with a Turkish orchestra at Columbia University.
Zack’s songwriting was largely unknown outside a small circle of friends and family. He played about ten Syzygy gigs in small New York City venues, sometimes solo, sometimes with a band that included his friend Connor Grant on guitar. Connor, also a guitarist in Sean Ono Lennon’s band, The GOASTT, is himself a singer-songwriter who goes by the nom d’arte Tongues Unknown, and Zack was his regular bass player and accompanying singer.
In 2018, Zack approached Connor about producing his Syzygy project. They were deep into that project at the time of Zack’s death, leaving the record to be finished posthumously. Throughout that process, as Connor combed through Zack’s home bedroom recordings, many more songs were unearthed that no one had heard but Zack.
Now nearly four years after his untimely death, Syzygy the album will finally be available on March 24th via Ono-Lennon’s Chimera Music label.
“A truly brilliant artist,” Sean says of Rosen. “Zack’s songs are astonishing and original. He had a peculiar, poetic and playful mind.”
Profits from his music will be donated to several non-profit mental-health organizations, including Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), and Treatment Advocacy Center. To support young musicians Zack’s parents have endowed a music scholarship in Zack’s name at Wesleyan University and established the Zack Rosen Music Fund, which supports adjunct music faculty and other young musicians in and around the Wesleyan community.
Pre-order this extraordinary album, which fans of Daniel Johnston and Damon Albarn alike will no doubt enjoy, on the memorial BandCamp page set up in his honor.
AUDIO: Zack Rosen “All In Time”
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