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Zip Tang - Private Shangri-La CD (album) cover

PRIVATE SHANGRI-LA

Zip Tang

 

Eclectic Prog

4.03 | 21 ratings

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Rivertree
Special Collaborator
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Knowing ... what?

Due to their ambitious approach I once was pleased with the 2008 'Pank' album, though lost connection after that for what reason ever. Just right now in August 2015 the Chicago based band have a new album ready that shows them reduced to a trio - yet for the first time missing former keyboardist and saxophone player Marcus Padgett. Okay, where does the new ZIP TANG 2.0 expedition take us now? Hah! Easily to imagine really, when you're going to consider the album title. So much for the obvious knowing, or what?

Eleven songs are offered, provided with a lot of twists and turns. They are extending a quite unpredictable workout - yes, that stays even after several listening sessions. So I had to rewrite this a few times, since I occasionally faced problems to pin down the album for some mysterious reason. In any case they don't take it too seriously overall, well, this is not lacking of subtle humour ... just taking the album cover into account for example. Don't have the lyrics at hand, but in between I can hear them searching for the Plastic Jesus, oh yeah.

So let me pick Big Crunch to start with - maybe ambigious, maybe freaky - musically the opposite of a crisis because my favourite excerpt - though possibly has a cosmological meaning too. There's certainly a psychedelic flavour to state on this occasion. Surprisingly I could detect a few references to other bands here at the very start - placed with intent or not - like Fates Warning's 'Still Remains' or 'Zoombiance' by Rinse, Repeat. And other diffuse reminders which I can't name until now. Food for thought, still. On top of it this just is part of a declared song couple.

Which means the acoustic guitar driven Line comes prior. An excerpt provided with nice polyphonic vocals and yep ... inviting to sing along. You might sense it in the meanwhile - this album instantly won't be that accessible, like a pop oriented album would come along of course. A jazzy component takes a backseat (no sax, lesser keys) to the benefit of a more hard & heavy rocking attitude. It's Perry Merrit who has an important impact more than ever, due to the lead vocal and keyboard/synthesizer task, plus the whole guitar dominance, the latter often double- or even multi-tracked (rhythm and solo), also taking the acoustic part into account.

Rick Wolfe (punchy bass) and Fred Faller (lively drums) are suitable companions moreover, and this altogether - based on many overdubs - will guarantee a really lush and vibrant sound. Not a 'live in the studio' result with other words, I'm quite sure concerning the mix it took a bunch of hours to come to a final solution. Is it my pure imagination, or are they provoking a lot of references and relations? Some more examples needed? When the Cigarette Burns Perry counters with sireen alike guitar. And they will offer us the opportunity to Delete The Hole via head banging. Or alternatively, is there anybody out there to stop the Maniacal Calliope?

Bang! Brilliant! Their private Shangri-La is a well thought out curiosity, which needed some time getting used to. Based on my experiences gradually the wonderful melodic contours come to the fore more and more, weirdness turns into trickiness. Shortened to a three-piece affair ... so what, this does not imply limited opportunities quite naturally - no, not necessarily. They compensate this with virtuosity and creativeness, and last but not least they are definitely able to rrrrrock the house! 4.5 stars so far!

Rivertree | 4/5 |

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