One of the strongest avant-garde bands in New York. - New York Times
Zs plunge head first into the murky, amorphous waters where rock, experimental, free jazz, noise, and ambient music meet. You'd be hard pressed to find another group that sounds just like this. The depth of style achieved is remarkable. - Alarm Magazine
Ah, a new decade of experimental music is here and, no, it has nothing to do with making "weird" disco and throwing a Pro Tools filter over the top to make it sound like a cassette tape. Zs are ready to unload their first full-length for The Social Registry. It's called New Slaves, is scheduled for release on CD and 2XLP on May 11th, and is the most physically visceral experimental LP we've heard in a minute. Hitting with a similar impact as Oughts, giants like The Boredoms' Vision Creation Newsun and Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons (while sounding nothing like them), New Slaves is a true behemoth - epic, unapologetic, painfully and artfully composed, mindboggling in complexity, original in sound and intent, while maintaining a minimalist, chugging funk groove throughout its precise post-capitalist haze. It is arguably the most definitive statement from a band that have been challenging listeners for a decade, demonstrating, over the course of seventy minutes, just how versatile their sound can be.
If you don't know already, Zs are Sam Hillmer (tenor sax and pedals), Ben Greenberg (electric guitar and electronics), Ian Antonio (percussion and electronics). For New Slaves (recorded by the band at Greenberg's Brooklyn-based studio Python Patrol), they are also joined by Amnon Freidlin (electric guitar). Zs has existed for approximately ten years and has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the noise and avant-rock underground, including The Locust, Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, Battles, The Dirty Projectors, Dan Deacon, Marnie Stern, and many more. The band boasts an admirable amount of recorded material to date, released with labels such as Three.One.G., Troubleman, Tzadik and more, though New Slaves is officially just the band's second full-length album.
Opening track "Concert Black" kicks things off with pensive circular harmonics that naturally swells to a robust (and perhaps horrifying) cloud, using the studio as a tool to swirl the band's steadfast and forward-looking compositional techniques. It blurs into "Acres of Skin" - a clanging mishmash of industrial raga. As the record progresses, each member gets to show-off with some co-operative individual compositions. Greenberg's "Gentleman Amateur" brings your disorienting microharmonic drones, while Freidlin's "Don't Touch Me" is debased through a Black Dice Broken Ear Record meets Aphex Twin meets Stockhausen guitar-based pastiche. Antonio's "Masonry" vaporizes the formula and floats away like the band collectively decided to do whip-its and drive some slow-mo doughnuts in the parking lot outside the studio.
"New Slaves" - the twenty minute title track - is the record's peak and brilliant mission statement, harkening to the visceral live sound of 2007's The Hard EP. It's a minimalist, jerky take on progressive funk and dirty as all hell. Every band member - particularly the otherworldly skronk of genius saxophonist Sam Hillmer - shows chops well beyond their peers while adding some next level physicality to the stew. The musicianship is seriously so insane that Zs push right through the vanguard of 21st century classical into something that's spiritually akin to hardcore punk ferocity. It's rare that you get a track that simultaneously makes you think about Hegel while punching through a wall like you were attending a Minor Threat show in 1981.
The record closes with a two-part composition by Hillmer called "Black Crown Ceremony." Both movements present an ideal comedown from the record's intense antecedents. It's by no means mellow, but presents a softer, looser Zs that dwell and innovate in a subtle, ambient freedom. Guitar creates a soft metallic vibe while the saxophone runs in precise, interloping circles within the palette. By the end, vocals return to the mix (for the first time in years), and all has arrived to the beginning - a perfect exploratory loop.
The tracklisting of New Slaves is as follows:
1. CONCERT BLACK (5.09)
2. ACRES OF SKIN (7.40)
3. GENTLEMAN AMATEUR (5.42)
4. DON'T TOUCH ME (3.15)
5. MASONRY (3.41)
6. NEW SLAVES (20.53)
7. BLACK CROWN CEREMONY I: DIAMOND TERRIFIER (13.07)
8. BLACK CROWN CEREMONY II: SIX REALMS (9.59)
For all US-based promo and interview requests please contact Derek Meier at Solid PR:
For all requests from outside the US please contact:
Zs have a number of live appearances line-up in the coming weeks including several appearances at this year's SXSW:
Mar 13 at Snug Harbor in Charlotte, North Carolina
Mar 14 at The Earl in Atlanta, Georgia
Mar 15 at The Saint in New Orleans, Louisiana (w/ MC Trachiotomy and Microshards)
Mar 16 at Scoot Inn in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ Turbo Fruits, Thee Ohsees, Golden Triangle)
Mar 17 at Hotel San Jose in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ Ralph White, The Coathangers)
Mar 18 at Club Primo in Austin, Texas (SXSW)
Mar 18 at Domy Books in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ Abe Vigoda, Total Abuse, Weird Weeds)
Mar 18 at Parking Lot Near Convention Center in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ Acid Mothers Temple, Liturgy)
Mar 19 at Beauty Bar in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ Aa, Julianna Barwick, Tyvek)
Mar 20 at Spider House in Austin, Texas SXSW (w/ TK Webb, Wild Yaks,Jeff the Brotherhood, Shellshag)
Mar 20 at Moose Lodge in Austin, Texas (SXSW w/ DD/MM/YYYY, Dosh, Naam, Mondo Drag)
Mar 27 at Silent Barn (Black Crown Ceremony) in Brooklyn
Apr 14 at Glasslands in Brooklyn