Sunday, November 11, 2007

Zs and Zu

So I spent this October primarily listening to just these two bands, Zs and Zu. Both are tirelessly described as Avant-Rock or Avant-jazz or Avant-jazz-rock or some such combination around the internets. But I've found they fit in nicely with the bands covered here. They are entirely unrelated, but are very much similar to one another. Both are very much drenched in the saxophone, both are terribly innovative and make for a very refreshing listen. One's from New York, one's from Rome.


Buck (2007)

Brooklyn, NY

Gilgongo Records

In addition to releasing a new album Arms on Planaria records this year, Zs have also released Buck, a compilation of two live sets. I'm still waiting on Arms, so I can not vouch for it, but I have listened extensively to the Karate Bump EP and Zs, the 2003 self-titled. Both of these releases are excellent examples of what the band is capable of, and parts of both are featured in Buck, which is why it deserves a special highlighting here.

Part of what most allured me to Zs initially was the rhythms they create by lightly blowing into the reeds. That a band would accent this nearly inaudible effect and put it into the forefront of their sound was very exciting to me. But that it works so well in the live recording is what really blew me away. The tracks are all very complicated, have no obvious patterns, are by no means brief, and somehow are all performed flawlessly. Website. Myspace


Igneo (2002)

Rome, Italy

Frenetic Records

You could probably compare Zu to the Gorge Trio in the sense that they're a trio that's 'gone collaborative' over the years in pursuit of forever pushing the barriers their sound. I've heard a handful of these collaborations that are readily available here in the US, but it is the earlier Igneo, that is most easily found this side of the Atlantic, and seems to be the most popular of their releases. Igneo finds the group as it began, a three-piece of sax, bass, and drums, and special guests Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop and Fred Lomberg-Holm. They all play part to an intelligent, heavy, clamorous mess. Website.Myspace.

For 2007 Zu is operating under another moniker, Black Engine. This is a collaboration with Eraldo Bercocchi. The album Klu Klux Klowns is likely to be one of my favorites of the year. You can order the CD at this great site- Wallace Records. Listen to 4 tracks here or at the official website.

Black Engine - Ku Klux Klowns Zs - Arms

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