Music of the Modern White
(2009, Social Registry)
RIYL = Extra Life, Aufgehoben, Kingdom Shore
Zs is one of those bands that I’ve always heard about being whispered about as musical revolutionaries. Along with this idea was a semi-obscure mythology that I’m not so sure that I didn’t fabricate myself. Either way, the New York underground’s experimental music scene has to culminate with reference to this insatiably glorious troupe of free jazz noise pranksters. My first introduction to the crew was last year’s The Hard EP. With a single track clocking in at past fifteen minutes, Zs provided a schizophrenic/OCD composition that was the epitome of its name sake. It was simply a difficult listen. On Music of the Modern White I'm not even going to begin to pretend that Zs has somehow turned the corner toward accessibility, but for my dollar this is what educated free jazz/noise is all about. First off, Zs has cut their tracks into pop sized lengths for easier digestion. Secondly, well, the guys just kill it on every track. I don’t know what it is and if it is totally justified, but there is something about Zs’s approach to composing mind bending sound experiments that sounds classically informed. I can’t really put my finger on it, but Music of the Modern White feels like adept musicians creating beautiful ugliness at will rather than amateurish teenagers attempting to make a scary sounds tape for Halloween with whatever is lying around the house. Perhaps a part of this is the instrumentation. With (at various points) heavy handed, well recorded drums, brass (I’m thinking a saxophone) bleating and what sounds like soaring violins, Zs sound like a group of orchestral jazz expatriates. However, don’t let this provoke any thoughts of elitism in your little heads. With screeching electric guitars and handclaps, Zs bring everything full circle. There is legitimate punk rock n’ roll buried in the aesthetic of theses pieces. There are only six tracks on the album leaving things relatively short, but not without giving you full satisfaction at the completion. I think if there was much more audio destruction lingering in these tracks people might begin to suffer slight amounts of brain damage. However, just for the record, I wouldn’t mind. Super freakin' awesome!
Zs on MySpace