Remember two posts ago, when I said that Ben Greenberg’s group project – with Sam Hillmer on tenor saxophone and Ian Antonio on drums – Zs’ 33 was due for review soon? Well, not quite as soon as otherwise expected, here it is. (It is expected to be my last Northern Spy review in a row for a short while – though I expect to cover everything they have released in their year-and-a-bit of existence eventually.)
As with Hubble (Ben Greenberg’s solo project), this is improvisational performance at its most immediate and rawest. Unlike Hubble, the dynamics are altered by the varying timbres of the instruments to hand, the drums here largely providing a foundation on the top of which the guitar and sax intertwine, both as able to let their instruments ring out to create the impression of a great breadth of space as to fill out all the niches with a controlled cacophony of sound. Also unlike Hubble, the four sides of this vinyl release seem more like excerpts of a potential larger picture, meaning the risk here is that at each side’s close you will want for far more than is given.
Zs have, according to the description on the customary video located below, existed for ten years, over the course of which it has been a trio, a quartet and a sextet, so each member is well aware of being a part of something greater. This awareness is what prevents the sound from derailing; as a direct consequence, everything feels as carefully constructed as it does free-flowing and chaotic.
ZS from Haba on Vimeo.
33 is available for download now from Northern Spy Records, with a physical release date of November 8.