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Zoltan - Sixty Minute Zoom (2014) review


Zoltan "Sixty Minute Zoom (Cineploit, 2014)

In only a few short years Zoltan have managed to chalk up an impressive back catalog of releases, with Sixty Minute Zoom being their second full-length album since 2012.  But what’s much more impressive, is the quality of the music on the releases.  I keep waiting for Zoltan to put something out that isn’t up to par, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening anytime soon.  While I absolutely loved First Stage Zoltan, and both the Psychomania and Tombs Of The Blind Dead are amazing pieces, Sixty Minute Zoom shows the growth and progression that have taken place in the band much more clearly in my opinion, airtight arrangements and compositions so creepy and atrophied that they might as well be embalmed corpses rising from the grave to be committed to tape!  Starting with “Antonius Block” you know from the moment that Sixty Minute Zoom starts it’s going to live up to its’ title!  Recalling heavy Phantasm vibes before moving into a more Giallo like territory, Zoltan’s specialty in my opinion, “Antonius Block” is one of the best album openers I’ve ever heard and ensures that you’re not going anywhere for the next hour or so.  Flowing into the ethereal soundscapes of “Uzumaki”, Zoltan quickly turn on the heavily melodic and motorik rock sounds that open the album to reveal their love, as well as an impressive knowledge, of kosmiche, prog, and avant-garde soundtrack music.  While there may be a lot of bands that are trying to do the ‘horror soundtrack’ thing these days, Zoltan are one of the few bands that I’ve heard which have the knowledge and skill to actually pull it off.  Deftly moving into a definite Goblin like groove “Uzumaki” also has these awesome little chasms where the beat will drop out and these piercing stings of synthesizer pierce the veil of gaping space and cleverly constructed dropouts.  Quickly recalling a litany of Italian composers and combining it with their own unique take on the full-band elements of Goblin and American horror cinema soundtracks of the 70s and 80s, “Uzumaki” is an amalgam of everything that makes Zoltan who and what they are in a tight five minute package.  “Table Of Hours” is a more abstract piece, something that’s nice to hear on one of these albums which are normally consumed with Carpenter-espque heavy sythn driven songs for the most part.  One of my major fascinations with soundtrack music is that it actually exposes a larger audience of people to instrumental avant-garde music, and while most people will remember tracks like the opening title theme to Escape From New York, I’ve always loved the more out-there stuff like “Reel #9” from The Fog.  Tapping into that ghostly spectral aesthetic Zoltan crafts “Table Of Hours”, an ominous tension fueled track that instantly sets the listener on the edge of their seat, constantly glancing over their shoulders, peering at the shadows in the corner of the room with apprehension and bated breath.  It’s amazing how dark and foreboding Zoltan manage to make “Table Of Hours” with the sparse sounds and uncluttered composition leaving plenty of room for the song to really sink in and take hold; have no doubt this is the real deal here and Zoltan is just getting started.  “The Ossuary” recalls the high-octane energy feel of the album opener “Antonius Block” while incorporating the extended pallet of sounds and compositional arrangement demonstrated since.  I can’t help but think of poor Francesco Dellamorte and his star-crossed love walking through the Buffalora cemetery admiring the beautiful ossuaries while being stalked by her dearly-departed husband recently returned from the dead turned zombie!  There’s a certain tenderness, a brooding and emotional melody, at the heart of the pulse-pounding arrangement of “The Ossuary” and it emerges more and more the farther into the song you get, before you’re completely engulfed in a sweeping wave of cosmic distortion that dissipates into the fifth and epic final track of Sixty Minute Zoom.  Building from sweeping echoes of distortion and sparse keys “The Integral” would be just as at home in a sci-fi disaster flick like Aliens as it would in a psychological slasher horror film like Maniac.  Towing a thin line and managing to evade simple label or definition, “The Integral” makes its first transformation at around three minutes in, the drums shedding added weight and building to a muted crash behind pulsating balls of synthesizer.  Later, again breaking down and transforming, “The Integral” shutters to a complete halt at five minutes and is reborn from the ashes by the glimmering hope of a shinning line of keys splitting through the deafening silence.   Obviously offered as a complete suite composed in sections, like you would find in an actual soundtrack, “The Integral” is the song on Sixty Minute Zoom that should drive home how much time Zoltan puts into writing, composing and arranging a song.  It’s damn near impossible to get a twenty-minute long song that doesn’t just repeat the hell out of itself or completely derail to sound like there’s any sort of coherency or sanity to it.  Zoltan just keeping proving that anything’s possible if you have the talent and determination to make it happen though, retreating back into the singularity of keys again around nine minutes in.  The bass becomes a much more integral, holding time as much as the drums and taking up about as much space in the mix, the sound growing tense and restrictive.  It’s like you’re stuck in slow-motion running from some hideous nightmare coughed forth from the grotesqueries of your own mind in quick sand, and just like a nightmare things slowly begin to melt and change, taking on new shapes and contorting into deformed reflections of themselves.  The sounds that follow are some of the most sinister and unnerving sounds I’ve heard summoned up from the dark Lovecraft-ian bowels of Hades in a long while.  This section of “The Integral” is like listening to Coil’s Unused Themes For Hellraiser for the first time; it’s actually scary.  The strings rise to a frenzied peak before the heavy thud of the synth comes crashing down and the drums rise from the grave to pound a frantic SOS to anyone in earshot.  Things get almost downright sci-fi for a moment again, the pulsating sounds of the keys in the back oscillating and degrading into more sporadic chaotic stabs and stings, fading and gliding through the mix like dark mysterious serpentine figures you catch in the corner of your eye just outside the window of the small shuttle rocketing you through the terrifying expanses of space.  This section of “The Integral” has all the wonderful elements of disjointed gonzo The Fog-era John Carpenter stuff that I love going on, but Zoltan are able to expand on that sound, adding a layer of gritty Giallo energy and funk to the mix.  The cyclical nature of “The Integral” didn’t really strike me that heavily until I had listened to it for the fifth or sixth time but the song makes an almost a complete circle back to the melodies and rhythms that began it some eighteen minutes before, reprising the unhinged, psychotic sounds that started it.  Not only would the music operate perfectly as the soundtrack to a film but if you pay enough attention to the composition, it’s actually written in such a way that it creates its’ own characters, situations, settings and scenes in your mind’s eye.  Sixty Minute Zoom is an impressive notch in Zoltan’s belt, proving that they don’t even need a film to score; instead they’ll make you come up with your own.  With Zoltan being as prolific and active as they are, I’m super excited to see what they have in story for 2015 as each release they drop is even better than the last…  Out now on Cineploit Records, the geniuses behind a ton of Orgasmo Sonore’s releases, if you enjoy horror, dark wave, soundtrack, avant-garde, prog, or even just good instrumental rock, I highly recommend that you pick Sixty Minute Zoom up now, even the CD is limited to only 500 copies, and seeing as this is definitely one of the best albums of 2014 there’s one thing for sure, Sixty Minute Zoom is not gonna to be around for long! 


Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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