Zu are a strange band. They are the type of band that could almost only fit on Ipecac because they love the abnormal. They are discordant and noisy and beautiful and also Italian. Noted, that last one doesn't have much bearing on the music just a nice note. The band has a long history of upsetting audiences throughout Europe and making their way over here from time to time to shake tings up. The part that lets the band step out from beyond is their instrumentation. Namely they are a three piece consisting of drums, bass and saxophone. Now in the confines of a traditional jazz band this would be normal, and almost expected. This is not traditional and only points to having touches of jazz.
The drums throughout are steady and act as a strangely timed anchor to each song. The drums move at their own pace and giving any Dillinger aping band a huge middle finger. they are expressely timed to the heart of a junkie taking a speedball up and down swinging and swaying but managing to keep it all intact throughout the album. The bass moves like a metal guitar heavily distorted and almost acting as a rhythm guitarist would. This holds down the fort so as to let the other instruments go on their own pathways. Everything seems to come back to this overdriven beast making the most of each of it's parts. At times this can become almost comically overpowering. It's strength relies on how in your face it is. Finally we come to the leader of sorts, the sax. This instrument is almost the singer of the triad floating at times, screeching at others. It always sits on top of the mix making itself known beyond all else.
Something that happened I assume from working with Ipecac is guest spots. All of these guests make sense in their own way. they each add a special character to their song. The main two that stick out are King Buzzo of The Melvins making his guitar heard and playing a strange discordant and certainly abnormal duet with the sax. The other is label head and lynchpin of most weird musical activities Mike Patton. Patton makes it known by making noises with his mouth and if you haven't heard him do it yet, it's well interesting. This is not a complaint as there is nothing particularly normal about what Zu does regardless.
Everything from production to packaging has the Ipecac stamp. All release from Ipecac carry a certain attention to detail that you couldn't get from most labels distributed by a major. The artwork is pale but not plain on a heavy glassy card stock digipak. The liners are printed meticulously inside, since there isn't anything in the way of lyrics each bit of the recording is typed clearly and boldly.
If you are looking for something well beyond the range of normalcy or just want something to scare your neighbors with get this. It is beyond interesting and clearly well played. This is something for the horror lover in each as it remains unsettling and amazing each time it is played.
9.2 / 10
Alison Chesley (aka Helen Money) is mostly known for her excellent collaborations with a myriad of diverse artists, including Bob Mould, Mono, Russian Circles and Agalloch. A classical cellist herself ...
I have to admit, I chose to review this album with little knowledge of the band, based solely on the strength of their single, “La Mano De Lucifer,” from their ...
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