Sunday, 14 February 2010

Zuu - Everywhere

I’m always a little frustrated when a very decent CD slips through the letterbox from foreign climes (long time blog readers will know that I’m based in Cornwall, so the parochial nature of us down here suggests that a CD incoming from almost anywhere can be considered to have hailed from outside of our shores), and I go looking for more information on the band or artist in question, only to draw, more or less, a blank. That’s very much the case with this release, a really rather good second album by a band that I’ve since discovered are Los Angeles-based but who have an empty page on their website where their press kit and biography should be. Come on chaps, more information for us facts-starved music journalists if you please! I know the music should speak for itself, but (and this really is a general pointer, I think), a bit more meat on the bones regards to context would be most appreciated!

Anyway, that said they do have an interview with Dan Goldin of the excellent ‘Exploding in Sound’ and were on his download compilation that I blogged here a few months back and from that I’ve discovered that they were formed in LA back in 2003 by vocalist and guitarist Omar, have previously released an eponymous album and that this sophomore offering has been gestating since 2005 and features current collaborators Tyler on bass and Emvy on guitars whilst the drums for the album were provided by Erik Eldenius though their current drummer is now Kevin Offitzer.

I’d hesitate slightly in using the word ‘gloomy’ to describe what’s going on across the fourteen tracks here, but it’s an atmospherically dark album with an accompanying muted production tone and if I was going to point a finger and try and place it within an overall vibe I’d look at the Smashing Pumpkins as my first reference point, though the band themselves would invoke the Pixies and My Bloody Valentine with equal justice. Their songs have a power and a drive about them that’s highly potent and demands to be turned-up all the way, and a density to their sound that adds bleakness or relentlessness to the overall effect which really plays to their strengths. Listen to the second track, ‘Water’ and hear how this combination totally delivers on its complex set of moods.

They throw some wistfulness into the mix with ‘Nothing Special’ and ‘Sigh’ and in invoking the darkness in their music, it’s important to take also that underlying note of hope through adversity that seems to me to be a key element to the character of their songs. (I'll note hear that Omar describes to Dan Goldin that he draws a lot of his inspiration from the city, "endless alleyways... old abandoned buildings and freeway overpasses.") There’s a couple of haunting and reflective instrumental interludes, ‘Retrograde’ and ‘Amnesia’ which give a floating, spacey, vibe to proceedings, but the overall texture is that muted, even tightly-coiled aspect which, though it occasionally lapses into becoming rather too grey in feel, is really what makes this album a quietly sophisticated representation of mood.

But what I’m hearing here might well be a staging post to the ‘final’ version of Everywhere, since as I understand it the songs are currently being remixed by Ken Andrews, from Failure, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive MP3 copies of the first three tracks that he’s worked some additional magic across (‘Wasted Today’, ‘Water’ and ‘Nothing Special’). Andrews has made what were already very powerful tracks that bit more smart and vivid, let’s use the word ‘commercial’ in the sense that he’s brought a greater immediacy and approachability to what these guys already have. So it seems what’s happening is that a good collection of songs is now being reconstructed and developed further for a ‘proper’ release this year which seems to me to be an excellent strategy and one that I hope pays really dividends for this exciting outfit.

Zuu Official Website
Zuu Myspace


ZUU said...

time to fill in those blanks on the website! thnx for the review Ian!

Dan Goldin said...

kick ass man, great review