Thursday, October 07, 2010

Zevious—After the Air Raid (Cuneiform)

Zevious are “way out” and “too much.” The trio slips me a mickey on “Where’s the Captain?,” opening the album with a skittering bit of electric jazz. Just as I’m settling back for a John McLaughlin Extrapolation-style outing, they shut her down and burst into some powerful, angular King Crimson/Voivod damage. Then the madness escalates as the song breaks into detailed micro-skronk sections that remind me of Dysrhythmia or Behold...The Arctopus. Looking at the personnel involved, all this makes sense—Dysrhythmia’s Jeff Eber plays drums (joined by brother Mike on guitar), and the album was recorded by Colin Marston of Dysrhythmia, Arctopus, and Krallice. Zevious represents a jazzier take on the tech/math/prog thing. They’re tight, but the tones they employ are occasionally mellow. Bassist Johnny DeBlase plays both electric and upright, and Mike Eber operates in a slightly distorted middle ground, only cranking it up when absolutely necessary. He offers the strongest contrasts on “The Children and the Rats,” shifting between gentle picking and sudden, atonal squalls. Amongst all the riffs and motion-sickness rhythms they make space for lots of guitar solos and a couple drum spotlights on “iNCITING” and “Glass Tables.” The guitar solos are when Zevious loosens up and takes off—it’s great to hear the rhythm section churning away while the guitar clears a path of its own. I’ll admit to feeling worn down by the second half of this album, such is the jazz battering they dish out. But the more I listen to After the Air Raid, the easier it gets to absorb it a single pass. McLaughlin, Williams and Pastorius may have tried it first, but Zevious are a trio of doom for today.

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