So at the ZZZ’s show the other day I thought I was buying a pre-Prescription demo, but it’s a whole new EP with zero press, so…why not get the jump on everyone else for a change? It’s like old timez.
I never got around to reviewing Prescription…other people reviewed it right? RIGHT?! Holy shit. I think maybe it was only reviewed by blogs that deleted themselves. Stop it with that. This is important.
ZZZ’s are fuckin’ COOL. At some point, many bands’ greatest fear became “trying to look cool” and they in fact did not achieve it. So many boring shows and ugly records, who cares? You can take anything too far, including not taking things Too Far. What is the point if it’s not far enough?
I think the most I’ve said about this band was that their 2nd release, Magnetica, was not as good as the first one. (Which the band retweeted. Not a great start for me.) I’m not sure I take it back or that this new one is better, but I get where they are coming from now. They’re calling all of their releases demos so far, and the physical releases (this one is my first) are very uniquely packaged but self-made CDRs. They seem to be showing off different aspects of what they do. Live it’s pretty seamless; they start with minimalistic, trance-inducing grooves and end with early-Sonic Youth noise-churn guitar freakouts. When they get into a groove it’s like Industrial without the machines which is like Krautrock without the light-heartedness which is like…something.
I just thought of them as a noise rock band, more fashionable than most perhaps. But only Prescription fits that. They are describing themselves now as “Post-punk/No Wave”. I’ve always thought of those terms more describing an era of music more than a style or genre, but it seems to be the thing to do lately. Most of the bands doing this don’t do much for me, tho. It’s usually too slavishly copying the sounds of those bands, but ZZZ’s get into more of the spirit. That’s what Magnetica was about. They abandoned the hooks and did the No Wave uptempo chaotic thing. This new one is “Post”. Which is really pre-descent into permanent self-parody Goth. Yes. But don’t let that frighten you, my friend. Let that free you. Come with me.
For a while now, capital-G Goth has just been about dressing up and going on cruises and group trips to Disneyland. No thanks. ZZZ’s are not about that. ZZZ’s are cool. Old School Cool. They are essentially the musical equivalent of this picture of Meiko Kaji. The backward accusing glance, vaguely threatening, maybe not so vague, the mysterious corridor; lotta black. Monochromatic. Reverberant. Plus the drummer even wears a big hat. (For most of their performance. It’s eventually flung off via the inevitable thrashing, but there’s a slow build. It’s all about tension.) I think the g-word is still a good descriptor but you can’t blame people from avoiding association with such a campy sub-culture if they’re not about it. But all-black dresses with gauzy sleeves and ankhs is kinda goth. It can be said.
So, I like this record a lot. It could be the soundtrack to a horror movie that takes place entirely in a dark, wet basement. Where nothing violent happens. It’s psychological horror. Horror isn’t the right word. It’s slow, it’s spooky…it’s goth…goth is the right word, I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry.
I think an unfair comparison might be that they are the goth eX-Girl. Really I’m sure that’s a good comparison, but someone might think it’s unfair, “just because they are a trio of Japanese girls”. Well, they also deal in noisy atonal guitar parts, unique song structures, weird 3-part harmonies, tribal drumming (whole songs go by with nary a snare hit), indecipherable lyrics sung in counterpoint, prominent distorted bass; that’s everything about both these bands. But it’s possible they never heard eX-Girl. The feeling is totally different.
I especially like the bass player’s sound. I took a peek at her pedal set-up (relax) and I should have taken a picture (please) but she seems to be running it through a harmonizer and then through distortion. I forget exactly, but they were modern pedals. It’s a pretty unique setup as far as I know. Funny that J-bands are always accused of copying the sound of a particular genre, but missing the underlying point of it. I actually find the hit-or-miss ratio pretty similar with that of Western bands.
I’m also tempted to compare them to Sleater-Kinney and even more, Cake Like, esp. for the counterpoint thing, which I love. But those bands are further off the mark. The former is earnest and the latter ironic; this band is neither. They are not speaking personal/political truths or taking a clever reactionary stance against other bands. It’s more about constructing a fiction. Gothic fiction, I guess. Give it a chance. It’s not about like, vampires. I’m not sure what’s it’s about except maybe depression, angst, dread, that kinda gothic. Plus they do a lot of the ‘one of them is deadpanning it and the other one is agitated’ thing, but they’re singing about the same experience. Perhaps different forms of PSTD.
The real piece on here is 26/27, which you can easily hear if you google “ZZZ’s Invidia”, but I’m not sure I should post it here. You can hear the whole thing. Yet they haven’t put record on bandcamp or for sale anywhere. This review is totally promotional! Should I get paid for this? I did not get the thing for free. Whatever, just get it when it goes up if you care about that kind of thing. I hope you care about that kind of thing. I care about that kind of thing. I’m just writing this to tell you, the people that care about these things, who are the people that I care about, that this is one of those things you should care about. Are we clear on that? Fine.
So the only really intelligible words in this song are “Boom/Crash/Bam/Bang/What a day/Oh, what a day”. There’s more but I don’t feel print and/or guessing does it justice. I’m assuring you it’s a compelling work but I’m starting to think I might be sounding like a crazy person. Well, I’m not gonna let that bother me. This band might be crazy. Did I mention the guitarist seems to be playing only with her middle finger? I didn’t. She does? I think she does. Maybe she was giving me the finger. They started following me on twitter. I’m a little afraid tbh. It’s a good feeling. I want that in a band.
Anyway, It’s a fine way to end the EP, but then there’s a very anticlimatic instrumental. It’s got a pretty cool ambiance to to it actually. There’s like some drills and a TV in the background, with the skeletal guitar skittering around and the toms thudding. Actually it’s a nice coda. When they put all these pieces together into a full-length it should be Very Cool. %