The Italian avant-garde trio Zu has deftly slid in and out of various different musical genres over the course of their ten plus years in existence. Their music has been called everything from math rock, to punk and jazzcore and everything in between. The band which consists of bassist Massimo Pupillo, drummer Jacopo Battaglia and saxophonist Luca T Mai has toured or collaborated with a diverse number of musicians over the years such as The Melvins, Ruins, Mike Patton and Einsturzende Neubauten. Fellow avant-garde composer John Zorn has also publically gone on record praising their efforts.
The Way of the Animal Powers is spruced up re-issue of their original 2005 CD release which is now out of print. American experimental label Public Guilt has expertly handled this impressive new re-issue (which includes an absolutely stellar looking 180 gram, gatefold vinyl edition as well) by calling in famed sound architect James Plotkin to remaster this eccentric collection of music.
On this recording the trio is complimented by the addition of Chicago based jazz / improv musician Fred Lomberg-Holm on cello. The sound is primarily driven by the meaty sounding bottom end of Pupillo's bass, Battaglia's all over the map, ever shifting drum patterns and Mai's squonking sax playing. Holm's fluid and at times frantic cello work definitely adds another dimension or layer to the bands already dense wall of sound on tracks like "Shape Shifting", "A Fortress against Shadows" and the explosive "Things Fall Apart", another composition to predominantly feature more of Mai's blistering sax.
The attack is punishing and yet restrained throughout, and there is also a feeling of darkness lurking about. The music on several occasions comes dangerously close to the boiling point, and yet it never erupts into a full blown dissonant assault, which is a good thing. Think of it as controlled chaos designed to push and pull the listener in different directions, forcing them to hang on to the edge of their seat for the entire duration of this recording, which unfortunately only clocks in at just under thirty minutes.
The Way of the Animal Powers is simply a marvelous and eclectic collection of music from what has to be one of the most talented outfits operating in experimental, improvised music today. If you like music that is a little left of center then by all means snag this one up pronto!
1) Tom Araya is Our Elvis
2) Anatomy of a Lost Battle
3) Shape Shifting
4) The Aftermath
5) Things Fall Apart
6) The Witch Herbalist of the Remote Town
7) Farewell to the Species
8) A Fortress against Shadows
9) Every Seagull Knows