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Zs could quite possibly be the modern jazz equivalent of Lou Reed‘s Metal Machine Music or Borbetomagus for a new generation. Their uncompromising sonic assault commands attention, consistently leaving an impression on the listener that is not likely to be forgotten. After a couple cassette EPs, founding Zs member, Sam Hillmer, finally delivers his solo album, an introspective journey that successfully expresses Hillmer’s starkly unique vision.
Rather than repeat the organic noise attack of Zs, Diamond Terrifier utilizes electronics that, when combined with Hillmer’s saxophone, create a musical cyborg – mechanical, yet living and breathing. In this mode, Hillmer constructs a soundscape of transcendental meditation, beginning with the Buddhist koan of the opening title track, where a Vangelis-like new wave/new age keyboard loop sets the background for Hillmer’s soulfull tenor saxophone. “Transference Trance” uses a bluegrass-style electronic banjo sound as the backdrop for Hillmer’s sonic explorations, while “Three Things” takes a darker tone with heavily reverbed, lo-fi production reminiscent of the early German Free Music Production recordings to accentuate the bleating Evan Parker-ish saxophone. The spirit of Sun Ra rises in “Becoming a New Object,” an ominous trip through time and space akin to Ra’s Nile-istic journeys on Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy, though “Confusion Wisdom” is nearly two and a half minutes of droning static and “Adamantine” recalls the recent electronic forays of Viodre. Finally, like the circular breathing/reasoning on which Kill the Self That Wants to Kill Yourself is based, it ends where it begins in a dreamy reprise of the title track.
This is truly “new” music, i.e., wholly original music that breaks new ground while destroying preconceived notions of what it should be. While a new Zs offering is always welcome, the next Diamond Terrifier release is eagerly anticipated.