Nov 2011 15

Zu - Axion (Phantomsmasher Remix)/Chthonian (James Plotkin Remix)Zu
Category: Experimental
Album: Axion (Phantomsmasher Remix)/Chthonian (James Plotkin Remix)
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Extreme sonic experimentation that calls for an open mind to reap the rewards.


Zu is an amazingly diverse group hailing from Italy that seem to break classic genre definitions as much as possible, ranging in sound and description from progressive rock to jazz styling. It seems that the jazz attribute stems almost entirely from their exploratory sonic episodes into realms of expression that normally do not make their way into more traditional forms of music, even of the rock variety. Phantomsmasher on the other hand is an experimental/industrial project with a much more electronic feel that is headed by James Plotkin, who provides the guitar, bass, and electronic manipulations. Both groups are under the Ipecac Recordings label, so it is no wonder that they got together for this remix collaboration. The two original tracks that are remixed here come from Zu’s 2009 album, Carboniferous.

The original version of “Axion” is a very interesting melodic metal journey through oddly played guitars and atypical time signatures that almost reminds the listener of Tool (but without the radio-friendly qualities). The remix, however, makes the song feel far too disjointed and out of control, as though there was not any overall direction to the treatment other than to play around with the sounds for the sake of testing. The song is far more squealing and dissonant, and feels like there is too much feedback, distortion, and chaos to really make it appealing to anyone who is more accustomed to music with such recognizable things as melody or a regular beat. Thankfully, the remix of “Chthonian” makes up for the poor standalone performance of the first track. While the original album version of the song is quite an interestingly intense and musically diverse song, the remix definitely takes it up a notch. The beginning immediately catches the listener’s attention and introduces an incredible feeling of a Middle Eastern streetpunk band playing in a bazaar. This track features just the right combination of organic sounding instruments and digital sounds, and in conjunction with the way the loud/soft dynamics are emphasized by Plotkin raising the harder parts to become even denser, rougher, and more in your face, it really becomes appealing despite the heavy experimentation.

Combining two extremely experimental bands in such a way as this two-track release does feels as though it could go one of two ways: either amazingly good or horrendously poor. With only having two tracks, there is little room for error in this endeavor, which, unfortunately, did pop up. It is hard enough to get experimental music to not feel as though it were made out of pure dissonance to begin with, but then to remix something that would already throw off the average listener is a bold move indeed. It is unfortunate that this attempt felt so close to falling flat on its face, but courtesy of the wonderful work on the second track, the entire experience felt redeemed. Rather than labeling this one something to disregard entirely, it can be thoroughly enjoyed, but it would be best to approach this one with an open mind ready to throw convention out the window.

Track list:

  1. Axion (Phantomsmasher remix)
  2. Chthonian (James Plotkin remix)

Zu Website
Zu MySpace
Zu Twitter
Phantomsmasher Website
Phantomsmasher MySpace
James Plotkin Website
Ipecac Recordings Website
Ipecac Recordings MySpace
Ipecac Recordings Facebook
Ipecac Recordings Twitter
Public Guilt Website
Public Guilt MySpace
Public Guilt Facebook

Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3


Litho Fayne (LilyRain)

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