With their self-titled debut, New York City's Zs whittle a pointy niche of their own on the big experimental rock. The EP is part of Troubleman Unlimited's Vothoc outsider music series, which is curated by Orthrelm mastermind Mick Barr. It features five tracks, all dominated by choppy, skittering intersections of percussion and tenor sax. Drummers Brad Wentworth and Alex Hoskins don't make a lot of racket, instead matching the blare of Alex Mincek and Sam Hillmer's saxophones with staccato, technically efficient taps. In between these players lies the odd chording of guitarists Charlie Looker and Matt Hough, who seem to follow neither rhythm nor melody, but nevertheless remain integral to Zs' literate racket. While the brief piece "Olympics" is pure fun, offering a snapshot of each musician darting into and out of the other's solo, it's the two longer works that really make an impression on Zs. The eight-plus minute "Slalom" finds the saxophonists and guitarists hitting a series of odd, interlocking chords as the percussion shifts the song's rate of speed back and forth. At one point cymbals arrive to add a little shrill chaos to the scene, but it's soon back to the geometric seesaw of pinging high and low notes. "Mimesis" starts out on a much subtler tip, with a sax breathing gently as the guitarists strike awkward chords. The saxophones' whale calls eventually coalesce into a sustained solo of sorts, before some piercing tones give way to even more empty and hesitant space. This deep in the song, it seems like the guitarists are daring the saxmen to make a strident move, and vice versa. It's captivating stuff, especially when the saxes do finally start to squawk, and the drummers make their own appearance at this improvisational showdown.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus