Zu – Carboniferus
I remember the day before New Years Eve I spouted: “I don’t know why, but I have a good feeling about ’09 for music”, seems so far that i’m right. Like an over excited conspiracy theorist, I’ve nashed my teeth in anticipation as new Fantomas, ISIS, Secret Chiefs 3 and Old Man Gloom albums have been announced for this year. But to truly kick the musical year off in style we have the awesome Zu, with a record that has totally exceeded my expectations!
I’ve been a bit indifferent to Zu in the past, not because of their music, I think just through lazyness. However I got a chance to see them live supporting the Secret Chiefs 3 in London last year, and was blown away! So, when this landed on the SittingNow review pile, I was pretty damn excited. Luckily, my excitment was rewarded by one of the best records i’ve heard in a long while. This, the latest of 14 (count them) albums, is clearly Zu’s best to date. I say that as one who has spent the last few months desperetly tracking down everything Zu-related that he can get his grubby little hands on. So, to the music then…
The album opens with an amazing, almost’ techno-hypnotic’, bass and drum assault only to be rudely interupted by what sounds like an insane, distorted saxophone. Time signatures are all over the place, but not out of control, which adds a restrained and sinister quality to the record. The tone remains the same throughout: dark and intense, whilst managing to stay interesting enough to suprise the listener as it lurches along like an unstopable Jazz/Doom Leviathan. Some people have complained that the band sound a little too much like Lightning Bolt, with whom they have toured; I would, however, argue that where LB suffer from repitition sometimes (perhaps a bane of their being a two-piece), Zu manage to push their sound to the outer corners of the genres they explore, and keep it really interesting.
One way in which Zu certainly do keep it interesting, is with the company they keep. On this release we are treated to Fantomas’s Mike Patton and Buzz Osbourne, amazing percussionist Alessandro ‘Pacho’ Rossi and atmospheric guitarist Ragno Favero (love that name) all adding their various spices to the overall flavour of the piece. Patton is really on form here, adding nice electronic bleeps and his trademark squeals and chamber-esque vocals. I often wish that the Patton/Zu Quartet would release an album together; this has just made that wish more intense.
There’s a lot of potentially great stuff being released in ’09, and this record is already great contender for album of the year!
Title: Zu – ‘Carboniferous’
Label: Ipecac Records/Southern (Europe)
Released: Feburary 17th 2009