Although the String Cheese Incident are categorized as a jam band, they don't jam enough to satisfy their drummer, Michael Travis, who also leads Zilla, a trio featuring hammered dulcimer player Jamie Janover and guitarist/bassist Aaron Holstein, which might be called a "real" jam band in the sense that all they do is jam -- there are no songs, per se, and not even any preplanned structure when the bandmembers pick up their many instruments. After six live albums, the double-CD all iZ (employing a quirky capitalization to emphasize that the title is "Zilla" spelled backwards) is a debut studio album, the product of an exhaustive two-day, 16-hour spell in a recording studio, from which nearly two hours have been culled. Even though the members of Zilla are making it all up as they go along, the music is not formless. In fact, if there is a constant, it is in the rhythms, which often move at a fast clip, and over which various riffs are played. Janover's dulcimer (he also plays electric kalimba) may be the closest thing to a lead instrument, but there are also plenty of electronic blips and bloops, and the percussion sounds draw upon many exotic instruments, lending a world music impression, as the styles jump from South America to Asia to Africa. If the improvisational nature of the music doesn't do any harm to its groove, however, the lack of any planning does affect musical development. The 13 excerpts from the group's ongoing composition, ranging in length from two to 19 minutes, are more about beats and patterns than about beginnings, middles, and ends. By its very nature, Zilla's music is art for the present tense, which also means that, when it's over, there isn't much to retain.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2