Escape Velocity

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For their 2011 album, Zombi went for the full-on Krautrock/synth/rhythm attack that's always been key to their work; if it's not quite Ash Ra Tempel after some decades of metal, it's not too far off. Anthony Paterra's drumming is what comes across as the "new" side of Zombi's fusion, in contrast to Steve Moore's synth/bass work, and the drums on the opening title track have the kind of crisp, in-the-room feeling of performers who have either spent time at Electrical Studios in Chicago or dream of doing so. In contrast, the base synth loop and big, rising bursts from Moore all suggest the science fiction epic from the late '70s that never quite was, if Saturn 3 had Star Wars' velocity and Blade Runner's sense of slow dread. That blend of live-wire focus and electronic sheen has always been key to Zombi, of course, but as a summary of their approach, Escape Velocity might be one of their best and most monumental. "DE3" might encapsulate this style best of all, a nearly ten-minute song that finds a perfect sweet spot between relentless pace, danceability, and compelling atmospherics. When everything strips down to a central synth rhythm break for a few seconds before the drums herald a majestic new fanfare, it's a beautiful moment. "Shrunken Heads" is a touch more straightfoward in comparison to some of the flights of fancy elsewhere on the album; Paterra's drumming is more of a four-to-the-floor punch in a Keith Forsey way, but the song's slow, soft fade to nothing is a great way to feel the tension ratcheting up even as silence descends. Even the shortest song, "Slow Oscillations," has the kind of beautiful synth sweep and nervous drumming that suggest Carl Sagan's Cosmos as an action movie, while the concluding "Time of Troubles" could end it. Title aside, it has the kind of gentle, almost sweet feeling on the synth melody that suggests a calm resolution to whatever's been going on before.

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