Labels - what would we do without them? Probably enjoy the music more and not get sidetracked into pointless and elitist debates about what does or does not constitute "bison-prog" or somesuch. On the other hand there are times when labels are useful, and as Amplifier's Neil Mahony says "I do....find some musical labels helpful – if something is described as Brainfuck Noisecore then I am usually pretty sure what to expect."
With that in mind, may I describe the scary and sometimes surreal noise made by ByZero as avant-punk-jazz-metal-rio-prog? No? well in that case I don't know where to start! Seriously though, this is one helluva CD and if you like your music challenging, unpredictable, HEAVY, and trance-inducing, then this muvva is for you.
Hailing from Moscow, ByZero have been going since 2009 and their core line-up consists of drums/bass/guitar/synths. On most pieces on this album they are joined by a saxophone or two, three or even four, whether or not all at once who knows, it's hard to tell. There are fourteen pieces (calling them "songs" would be well wide of the mark) on Zencore, their debut album, ranging from forty five seconds to nine minutes in length. I can only describe their influences from my own experience as I know little of the Russian avant-jazz scene. In this stew of fantastic noise I can hear Faust (quite a lot actually), King Crimson (imagine the heaviest thing on Red then multiply until the calculator breaks - that's the opening track PM), Don Ellis, Moondog (not in sound, more in feel), Acoustic Ladyland (speeding, with stacks of Marshalls and guitars), Anekdoten at their noisiest, Suicide, Fuck Buttons, Lol Coxhill, Acid Mothers Temple....I could go on. What this actually is is unique, something one rarely comes across these days.
The bass guitar is often used as a lead instrument, but still thumping out the rhythm with the drummer, who somehow manages to hold it all together, while the guitar and synths swarm around like angry bees, often in the company of one or more saxes. Lunnyi Beg Poreirya Ivanova includes an almost and atypically lovely guitar break that sounds like agitated raindrops falling from a roof, and following track AM goes all space-rock, before the swarm descends again. There are many brief interludes from the brutality throughout which gives the otherwise relentless nature of the album some much needed light and shade.
Noise of Zero Pt1 sees Faustian space spiders scratching at the hull while inside the saxes squawk and wail, arhythmic and ambient, but not in a chilled way. Twist Ling AM with Nick Rubanov takes the template of the version from earlier on and features added sax madness over an Anekdoten-like bass riff and syncopation. Storming stuff!
After an hour we arrive at fourteenth and last track "Vibration of Zero, or the Four Impro" (sic) it feels like we have just gone through twelve rounds with the Klitschko brothers. We are battered, bruised, but also exhilarated, knowing we will return for more. Probably the most frightening and compelling record I've listened to in a long time, and all the better for it. Do not listen to this if you have a hangover!
01 PM (2:35)
02 Twist Ling AM (3:17)
03 Lunnyi Beg Poreirya Ivanova (4:49)
04 AM (3:32)
05 Volosatyi Studen (5:20)
06 Noise of Zero Pt1 (5:37)
07 Minimal (0:45)
08 Confusion (4:00)
09 Etu Pesniu Pel Gagagarin vs Kosmose (4:31)
10 No One Light (8:09)
11 Noise Of Zero Pt2 (9:34)
12 Twist Ling AM with Nick Rubanov (3:35)
13 Minimal Remix (5:21)
14 Vibration of Zero, or the Four Impro (6:04)
Alexey Bobrovsky - Drums
Anton Kolosov - Bass
Fyodor Fokin - Guitar
Katya Rekk - Synth
3 out of 5