I am not going to pretend to know this band. I have seen the name for years, but in a context at which my small mind most likely did not flinch. When terms like “pop” or “synth” are combined, I tend to move forward. Relapse releasing this intrigues me. Additional terms like “post-rock” help further my interest. The Fulci spelling of Zombi helps. And the John Carpenter influence seals the deal. And my more open mind in 2015 aids the situation. As does Zombi doing a split with a favorite, Maserati in 2009.
So, what is Zombi, musically? Steve Moore and AE Patera are the creators, members, artists. They began dropping records in 2001 and have five full lengths under their belt, along with three or four eps. Zombi dropped these early recordings, without a label, on CD in 2001. This release is a collection of those tracks, which are rather unavailable. Their following albums on Relapse (three of them) and Temporary Residence Limited have their own legacy. But these tracks are coveted. Discogs describes these songs – each track simply named “Sequence 1”, “Sequence 2” etc – as “power electronic”. Egad. That would normally make me run.
The sound is definitely evoking cinematic greats like David Cronenburg, Michael Mann, and of course, John Carpenter. “Sequence 1” is extremely enticing to me; which I attribute to the live and raucous drums. If you enjoy any type of house or beats or fusion or the like, these snappy, funk-driven drums under elongated notes of thick synth smears should get you stoked. The third layer of simpler, but poignant high piano notes adds a distinct energy. By “Sequence 4” they start to delve into odder arrangements and a more jarring, chaotic approach – but all constrained by rhythm. Again, I never got into industrial. My acceptance of even Godflesh is only five years old. Godflesh’s relatable qualities are Broaderick’s expression of the stark depression reflected from Birmingham, through heavy desolate and thick riffs. Zombi has a galactic, exploratory feel; just extremely dark. Michael Mann’s “Manhunter” mixed with Suicide is repeating in my head.
These are not songs one immediately gets. The sections are part of a larger tapestry. Being focused with headphones strapped on will set the mood. Letting go of preconceived notions and expectations would spark an additional advantage to appreciating this music. “Sequence5” relies on a drum machine, but wind noises and vast notes lend it texture. The track blends directly into “Seqence 6” with drum machine hi-hat eighth notes building anticipation over a pulsating bass beat. Multiple notes and sweeping synths play here, giving a confusing, hallucinatory feel. And I’m sober as a stone. I can imagine what your favorite intoxicant might add to the experience (not saying it needs it…).
Genre terms of “pop-synth” may be applied, but I would object. There is no sense of pop hooks or peppy dance beats here; as opposed to their 2006’s Surface to Air. The construction is subversive. The elongated synth and mock robot pulses let feeling and questions resonate as you move into the next movement. The mechanisms are not looped or left to swindle your musical prowess. The music is engaging and confrontational. This is superb for soundtrack work, but clearly can stand on its own, and be heard without visual accompaniment.
It’s weird, it’s eerie. Pretty cool. The horror fans should appreciate this. (Hutch)