Zevious - Passing Through The Wall
Zevious split the difference between the Tony Williams Lifetime and the 80s Downtown scene...[they make] algebraic music feel wholly organic , almost swinging." – Jazz Times
"...Zevious is for anyone who loves aggressive, rock-oriented improv with grooves and some semblance of a song...these guys put their music degrees to work...letting us know that being intense doesn't mean you can't have arrangements and following a script doesn't mean you can't let your hair down." – DownBeat
There’s a swelling wave of brainy, ballsy bands out there, blurring the lines between electric jazz, technical metal and progressive art-rock, and Zevious are at the forefront of the movement. Their music here is a hypnotizing blend of intricate, locked-in interaction and red-hot energy that will remind you that sometimes the letters 'L-O-U-D' can spell 'jazz'. Their music will also remind you that sometimes the most influential jazz is controversial; those with long memories will remember the arguments about whether or not the Tony Williams Lifetime, the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Bitches Brew were jazz...
According to the band, the goal on Passing Through the Wall is to induce a trance-like state in the listener through repetition, non-conventional melody and challenging song structure. The compositions are based around large cycles of layered poly-rhythmic patterns against octave displaced melodies; the individual parts working together to create dense, pulsating textures. The title Passing Through the Wall is fitting for the music on this album because the band is challenging the listener to literally “pass through a wall” of sound, transforming their state of mind in the process. As their guitarist explains, "Every piece that we write, we’re trying to explore a particular concept, and on this album we really tried to play with layered time. So at some point or throughout entire tracks, we’re actually playing in three time signatures at once—I might be in one, Johnny’s in another, Jeff is playing both and then on top of that, another one."
Zevious are a trio—guitarist Mike Eber, drummer Jeff Eber (cousins, not brothers), and bassist Johnny DeBlase. They started out as jazzbos in 2006, but they got over it; they "went electric," as the old folks say, with DeBlase putting down his upright bass and Mike Eber picking up the Telecaster that gives his tightly knotted lines their sting. The music they wrote shifted from jazz chords and head-nodding swing to tumbling, noisy rock that recalls instrumental-skronk powerhouses like Don Caballero, the Nels Cline Singers, early John McLaughlin, electric Miles Davis, Tony Williams Lifetime, Dysrhythmia (for whom Jeff also plays), Behold The Arctopus, Hyrrokkin, King Crimson (circa 1974-75), James “Blood” Ulmer/Music Revelation Ensemble, and more.
Their first release for Cuneiform, After The Air Raid, rightly gained them a lot of attention for their modern and powerful approach to electric jazz. The group gathered good press and enthusiastic audiences, as the band spent a good bit of 2010 and 2011 touring.
On Passing Through The Wall, the trio is tighter, crazier and more intense than ever and this is certainly their greatest achievement to date. Working once more with engineer Colin Marston (Behold, Dysrhythmia), their live sound has been clearly and accurately captured in all its hugely roaring, polymetric glory! It's a ferocious 48-minute slab of muscular, intelligent instrumental music that breaks musical and stylistic barriers.