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Zombi: Escape Velocity

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

Tracklist:

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

Added: June 28th 2011
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
Score:
Related Link: ZOMBI.us
Hits: 4445
Language: english

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Zombi: Escape Velocity
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-28 10:10:38
My Score:

With 2009's Spirit Animal, Zombi moved away from their original synth and bass roots in favor of a more fleshed-out and symphonic prog rock sound. Escape Velocity proves that this newfound style was no more than a mere experiment, seeing that this album sounds very much like their older material. If you're a fan of rhythmically-busy progressive electronic music with dense textures and an energetic prog-rock feel, Escape Velocity is certainly something you'll want to investigate further. I find the album a tad too repetitive and unvaried, but it's certainly an acquired taste. Fans of prog rock focused heavily on ambience will find plenty to love here for sure.

The music on Escape Velocity sounds like it could have come straight out of the seventies. Zombi is obviously very fond of early progressive electronic music (Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Klaus Schulze) as well as psychedelic prog rock like Hawkwind or Pink Floyd. Vintage synths, ambient song structures, and lush arrangements all characterize this observation. Zombi is a duo and plays completely instrumental music relying (on this album, at least) mainly on digital instrumentation. There may be a lack of a "human touch", so to speak, but that droning meditative atmosphere is probably what will make this release so appealing to most listeners. I personally crave music that is a bit busier and less repetitive - most of the songs here only consist of one or two main ideas, and slowly build into a climax at the end of the piece. Zombi does a superb job at making these songs as powerful as possible, though, and I find myself enjoying the entire album. I would've liked some more variation in the arrangements, but considering the album is only a mere 33 minutes, Escape Velocity never feels monotonous or anything like that.

Escape Velocity is a high-quality product with memorable songs, a terrific vintage-sounding production, and great ambience. Fans of Zombi that were scared away by the full-on prog arrangements of their previous album should find plenty to love on Escape Velocity. This release is a bit too short and repetitive for me to consider it excellent, but it's still a very solid effort worthy of 3.5 stars. Fans of energetic progressive electronic music should definitely give this one a spin.



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