Zoogz Rift

War Zone

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You don't buy a Zoogz Rift album expecting continuity or consistency, but even by the usual Zoogz standard, this is one strange album. Half of it is taken up by a sprawling heavy funk jam that is unlike anything else the band has released. Jonathan Mako Sharkey's mutated keyboards and Willie Lapin's thumping bass anchor the piece, which seems to be more of a showoff tune for his band the Amazing Shitheads than anything else. Though it is intermittently repetitive, it is interesting, thanks to fine playing by all concerned. The other half of the album is also mostly instrumental, but it's as tight and focused as Kasaba Kabeza is loose. "Heavy, Brother, Heavy" is an atmospheric instrumental reworking of "He Ain't Heavy" as a guitar star turn, where Zoogz proves that he doesn't need weird time signatures and strange discords to make a strong and memorable musical statement. It's one of the most conventional pieces he has ever recorded, but it is excellent. The rest of the album is the usual odd mix -- a goofy Traveling Wilburys pastiche (Zoogz publicly applied to take Roy Orbison's place after the latter's death, but strangely, Warner Brothers wasn't interested), an oddly pointless rant called "Bowl of Gregmar," and the title cut. The latter is a wonderfully tight piece of avant-garde rock, a great little blast of sound to end an album as interesting, idiosyncratic, and inexplicable as anything in the Zoogz Rift catalog.