Most indie labels stick to a certain uniform genre for the most part (Sub Pop, SST, ROIR, Epitaph, etc.), and Relapse is no different, as the majority of their artists are of the noise-metal variety. But a glaring exception is Zombi -- a Pittsburgh multi-instrumentalist duo comprised of members Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra. Think Rush circa their peak Moving Pictures and Signals era -- with Alex Lifeson's guitar completely erased from the proceedings -- and you're not far off from what Zombi's sophomore effort, 2006's Surface to Air, sounds like. The label describes Surface to Air as "Less an album than a moving, breathing mass of symphonic sound," and while it may sound a bit vague, they're right on with their assessment -- it's one of those releases that is meant to be listened to from beginning to end. And as a result, will take you one a heck of a synth-led journey, especially such standouts as the album-opening "Challenger," the part-Devo/part-ambient "Digitalis," and the slowly building title track. If you were to add Geddy Lee's unmistakable vocals, Surface to Air would certainly make one heck of a Rush release. Definitely a "headphone album" in the classic sense.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato