formed with drummer Sebastian Rochford and electric bassist Ruth Goller in 2007. Paris-based Z grew up in what was then Yugoslavia, and the Balkans' dance rhythms have long been a feature of his playing. On tour in Europe, Rochford and Goller, both members of British punk-jazz iconoclast Acoustic Ladyland
, the trio became Tetraband and recorded Humus in France over three daysZ uses a lot of layered keyboardsin April 2008.
Z says Humus is "the most 'rock' album I could record." While the music mostly avoids the reiterative rhythms and licks of rock, being instead in a near constant state of transformation, it does indeed share rock's structural simplicity and high-voltage. Driven forward by Goller's bass and Rochford's full-on stick assaultsone of the incidental joys of Humus is hearing the famously nuanced, not to say whimsical, drummer get down and dirty and stay thereZ and Roseman fire off extended passages of steaming urgency practically throughout. Briefer, more peaceful sections lower the temperature from time to time.
Despite the time and care which went into the recordingRoseman added trombone arrangements to his basic tracks in New York in December 2008the album has a powerful live feel. Z's overdubbing must, however, have been extensive; while he frequently doubles up on acoustic and electric keyboards in performance, the degree of layering on Humus suggest a fair amount of post-production.
Z's acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes are backgrounded by the striking textures he creates on Fazioli and his own invention, the xenophone, a concoction of parts from various electric keyboards. Although their aesthetics are dissimilar, Z's imaginative overlays bring to mind those of the American multi-keyboardist Marco Benevento
, with Z taking the dark side and Benevento the playful.
Highlights include the Acoustic Ladyland-ish head charge "Greedy (in goods we trust)," the wild Balkan mutation "Fuzzlija," and the bittersweet "Autumn Song," the closest the album gets to a ballad. But there isn't a moment that isn't magic. An outstanding, wildly exhilarating album.
Track Listing: Natural Ground; Greedy (in goods we trust); No. 9; Empty Shell; Focus; Fuzzlija; August Song; Swamp Tune; Thirst Day.
Personnel: Bojan Zulfikarpasic: piano, Fender Rhodes, xenophone, Fazioli; Josh Roseman: trombone; Ruth Goller: bass guitar; Sebastian Rochford: drums.