407

Zu: Carboniferous

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Zu: Carboniferous In the past decade, the Rome-based power trio Zu has grown into a truly fearsome beast. Kindred spirits with extreme noise merchants like the Flying Luttenbachers, Last Exit, Lightning Bolt and Painkiller, baritone saxophonist Luca T. Mai, electric bassist Massimo Pupillo and drummer Jacopo Battaglia channel riotous improvisational freedom into a tireless DIY punk rock aesthetic that champions collaboration above insular development.

Making their high profile debut on vocalist Mike Patton's Ipecac Records, Carboniferous is the trio's fifteenth recording, preceded by a spate of releases on obscure but highly regarded independent labels. In league with their previous work, which features collaborations with Eugene Chadbourne, Mats Gustafsson, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nobukazu Takemura, Ken Vandermark and many others, this visceral set includes a number of guests, including guitarist King Buzzo (groups The Melvins and Fantomas) and two memorable appearances from Patton himself.

Cut after a yearlong tour with Patton, this is the heaviest, most focused album of the band's career. Patton's meteoric rise to fame from the ashes of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle to avant-garde crooner with composer John Zorn, Fantomas, Tomahawk and several side-projects parallels Zu's intensive work ethic and mordant sensibility. His delirious vocal acrobatics on the surreal, prog-metal mini-epic "Soulympics" and unearthly overtone singing on the atmospheric "Orc" are the album's most unorthodox performances, providing welcome respite to the session's bone-crushing intensity.

Revealing their debt to extreme metal, the surging opener "Ostia" features grinding bass figures, coruscating baritone eruptions and blistering drum fills borrowed from Slayer's own Dave Lombardo; obviously, this is not your father's jazz. Mai's forlorn baritone cries on "Axiom" may invoke the noir cinematic vibe of Ennio Morricone, but typically the trio unleashes a relentless fusillade of mechanized aural violence.

King Buzzo's sludge metal riffing on "Chthonian" lends a menacing Lovecraftian ambience, setting the mood for the majority of the album. Awash with impertinent key changes, sudden tempo shifts, pulverizing downbeats and overdriven electronic textures, it lays an ominous foundation of unresolved tension.

While the endless barrage of off-kilter time signatures, punishing rhythms and extreme volume often lacks dynamic variety upon repeated listens, when enjoyed incrementally the set possesses its share of visceral charms. Regardless of genre, the testosterone fueled Carboniferous is bound to be one of the heaviest, most uncompromising records of the year.


Track Listing: Ostia; Chthonian; Carbon; Beata Viscera; Erineys; Soulympics; Axion; Mimosa Hostilis; Obsidian; Orc.

Personnel: Luca T. Mai: baritone saxophone; Massimo Pupillo: bass; Jacopo Battaglia: drums, electronics, mellotron; Mike Patton: vocals and electronics (6, 10); King Buzzo: guitar (2); Guilio Ragno Favero: guitar (9), bass (7), sinewaves and squarewaves (10); Alessandro "Pacho" Rossi: percussion (2, 10).

Title: Carboniferous | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Ipecac Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Salt Task" CD/LP/Track Review Salt Task
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Heritage" CD/LP/Track Review Heritage
by James Nadal
Published: October 3, 2016
Read "Candy Prince" CD/LP/Track Review Candy Prince
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Malamute" CD/LP/Track Review Malamute
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.