Zu | Carboniferous

Ipecac (2009)
By MATT PARISH  |  February 9, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars
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Zu — an instrumental outfit formed in Rome in 1999 — were destined to be on Mike Patton's Ipecac label. The trio (drums, bass, saxophone) have built their underground reputation on filleting genres into scraps of hi-fi metal, like the Flying Luttenbachers spliced with Tool. They toured as a quartet with Patton himself last year, and the result is this teeth-clenchingly regimented collection (Patton even takes schizo vocal turns in a couple of spots).

Zu borrow the bass-pedal crunch from Lightning Bolt and the churning percussion of latter-day Sepultura in "Chthonian," a seven-minute-long pummeling of unresolved key changes and sketchy downbeats. The disparate riff-based writing can be too heavy on cue cards and too light on connecting the ideas, but it's that same friction that makes the band worth listening to.

"Axion" conjures mossy fire dances with loose, droning bass textures like wobbling tentacles dangling from the canopy of a rain forest; then a film-noir sax steps up and takes over like something from Morricone's iffy '80s soundtrack work. I might have advised them against it — fortunately, I can't tell who's in charge here.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Rome, Mike Patton, Mike Patton,  More more >
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