The years with Relapse have seen Zombi rise from the fog of obscurity by way of touring and side & solo projects — add to that a fan base that continues to swell with every beat and undulation. The ranks consist of film score freaks and enthusiasts of synthesizer icons Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Moroder, and the unwavering torchbearers of all things
Goblin and George A. Romero. Zombi — Two Guys From Pittsburgh, Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra — keep the faith with their fifth full CD, Escape Velocity.
Zombi's 2009 release Spirit Animal introduced guitars to the duo's synths-bass-drums formula. Not this time: Escape Velocity revisits the threshold crossed from Cosmos to Surface To Air. The five new compositions occupy a ledge on an unmapped precipice that overlooks territory familiar yet turbulent and strange. The synthetic palette is grander than ever and free of sonic dribblings and other ephemera of the sort that marred electronic albums in the late '80s and early '90s. The crisp sequences signal the past triumphs of Tangerine Dream, Moroder, Klaus Schulze, and Robert Schroeder. The absence of Moore's bass guitar is conspicuous but not unwarranted; his DSI, Moog and Prophet synths provide the kind of low end that sends ripples across the Atlantic.
The percussive mantra of "Escape Velocity" recalls the days when Klaus Schulze's side-length sequencer epics were graced with real drums. Unlike Schulze, Paterra's never put down his sticks: the fills and perfectly-dropped flams buttress Steve Moore's Reichian chords to effect a most foreboding air. With a rapidly-percolating sequence, judicious drumming punctuated by blistering fills, and a circular lead melody to round out the template, the three minutes of "Slow Oscillations" is the culmination of instrumental rock. It's a sure bet Moore and Paterra are one of a handful of modern acts that knows how to do this sort of thing without drawing outside the lines.
"Shrunken Heads" is the line in the middle of the road, a sweet ode to Berlin School. Those familiar with Moore's solo disc The Henge, Robert Schroeder's Driftin' and the soundtrack work of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth will know the path. Delay-effected bass sequences, eighth-note kicks and quarter-note snares are elements integral to the Teutonic style — for nonconverts, it falls under the category of "you-either-get-it-or-you-don't." While not ambient in nature, "Heads" has a most hypnotic feel. On that note, the nine frenetic minutes of "DE3" court the Moroder mindset with much fervor, a pursuit which can be explored further on Paterra's recent Majeure project titled Timespan.
"Time Of Troubles" is an adventurous choice for album closer. The most downbeat of the five compositions, it's a dirgelike salvo with phoenix-fire mojo akin to Tangerine Dream's masterful "Beach Theme" from their classic score for Thief. The square wave melodic pattern curbs any whim for an additional right-hand complement. However, like a five-pointed star where all points are equidistant relative to one another, the circular nature of Escape Velocity dictates that the tracks can be listened to in any order. This tactic is not as easy to pull off as it sounds. "DE3" and "Shrunken Heads" would make sterling bookends, too.
Escape Velocity is another impressive work by the Two Guys From Pittsburgh. It's remarkable that this vein has yet to be tapped by Horrorwood.
STEVE MOORE: ARP Solus, Crumar Orchestrator, DSI Prophet 08, Elka Rhapsody, Korg Polysix, Moog Little Phatty, SCI Pro-One, Drum Programming on MFB 502 Drumcomputer and Drumtraks
A.E. PATERRA: Drums and Percussion, DSI Mono Evolver, Korg 700, Moog Source
1. Escape Velocity (7:10)
2. Slow Oscillations (2:51)
3. Shrunken Heads (8:22)
4. DE3 (9:02)
5. Time Of Troubles (5:38)
Total Time – 33:03