Zoos of Berlin


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In case you were wondering, art rock is not dead -- it's alive and well and living in Detroit, going under the name Zoos of Berlin. This Motor City foursome is one of the few rock bands from the area that appears to have drawn more influence from the electronic stylings of the likes of Carl Craig and Derrick May than the neo-garage attack of the White Stripes or the Dirtbombs; at very least, Zoos of Berlin share the electronic pioneers' love of Krautrock and Brian Eno, reflected in the cool surfaces and steady pulse of their music. Zoos of Berlin's first full-length album, Taxis, finds the group -- Trevor Naud on guitar and vocals, Daniel Clark on bass and vocals, Will Yates on keyboards, and Collin Dupuis on drums -- using an organic approach to conjure up an atmosphere their forefathers created with synthesizers (a process that usually works the other way around), and the results bring a greater warmth and gravity to the music, with the crash of the percussion on "Countess Lessons" and the roar of the guitar on "Water Town" helping music that might otherwise seem robotic move and sweat, not unlike human beings. If the vocals sometimes seem a bit more mannered than they need to be, at the very least, they match the refined tone of the musicians, and the album's intelligent use of dynamics, imaginative but unobtrusive production, and melodies that sound epochal despite the small size of the ensemble confirm Zoos of Berlin are a band with rare talent and creative vision. The Midwest hasn't produced a band like this in quite some time, and Taxis is an accomplished debut that points to a very promising future.

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