Zu

1997
Roma, Italy

For over fifteen years, Zu's modus operandi of straddling and abusing musical genres has resulted in over fifteen unique album releases across labels such as Ipecac, Atavistic and Headz (Japan). Their experimental amalgam of metal, math, no-wave, noise and electronics, led acclaimed composer John Zorn to describe their sound as "a powerful and expressive music that totally blows away what most bands do these days".

In the running for the title of 'the world's hardest working band", Zu have performed over 2000 shows throughout Europe, US, Canada, Asia, Russia, Mexico and even Africa, touring with the likes of Mike Patton (as the Zu/Patton quartet), sharing the stage with Faith No More, Fantomas, The Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth, The Ex, etc.. They have also collaborated with a vast number of musicians including Mike Patton, The Melvins, Dälek, Jim O' Rourke, FM Einheit (Einsturzende Neubauten), Peter Brötzmann, Eugene S. Robinson (Oxbow), Steve MacKay (The Stooges), The Ex, Thurston Moore, Stephen O Malley, Damo Suzuki (Can), Mats Gustafsson, NoMeansNo, Joe Lally (Fugazi).

Five years since their last full length on Ipecac, the critically acclaimed Carboniferous, and following a three year hiatus, Zu returned in May 2014 with the release of a brand new EP, Goodnight Civilization (Trost Records) featuring Gabe Serbian of The Locust on drums, and subsequently with an album with Eugene Robinson of Oxbow on vocals called The Left Hand Path, also on Trost, and the new full lenght Cortar Todo on Ipecac. Recorded in the countryside near Bologna, Italy, in the summer of 2014, the album features very special guests including keyboard player Joey Karam (The Locust), Italian guitar maverick Stefano Pilia (who plays with the likes of Mike Watt, David Grubbs and Rokia Traore) and perhaps most unexpectedly a field recording of an indigenous Shipibo medicine man recorded by Massimo during his travels around the Amazon forest. Cortar Todo reveals new dynamics from the band, the album is more direct, sharp, focussed, more intense and musical than anything we have heard from Zu so far.

In addition to the release, a long period of touring starts in Spring 2015. In summer 2015 Zu announced to have found their new drummer in swedish born and norwegian based Tomas Järmyr

Live in Helsinki

wal189
March, 2016
2x12inch LP
12 tracks
59 minutes

Gli Zu sono in continua crescita. Dopo “Igneo” li ritroviamo non solo con “Live in Helsinki”, ma anche con un nuovo disco quasi ultimato, e soprattutto con alle spalle tanta altra musica, maturata in collaborazioni / tour in Europa e Stati Uniti. Questo disco dal vivo è la prova di quanto il trio riesca a caricare la propria musica, ancora più di quanto fatto in studio. Giustamente registrato in una terra estrema come la Finlandia, “Live in Helsinki” stabilisce una volta per tutte le coordinate degli Zu, che si trovano al di là di qualunque jazz, fuori dalla portata del rock alternativo e lontane anni luce da ogni proposta punk/hard/core. L’unica band a cui potrebbero essere accostati in Italia sono gli Anatrofobia, ma forse, per catturare le loro trame strumentali, l’unico modo è chiamrle jazz-core: certo che però, se è limitativo rinchiudere in un genere i gruppi pop e rock, figuriamoci con gli Zu. Quello che, stando alla cronaca, viene riportato come un club finlandese, è in realtà un luogo non rintracciabile su alcuna mappa. Arduo da raggiungere, ma alla portata di tutti coloro che abbiano orecchie libere e bisognose. “Live in Helsinki” potrebbe anche indurvi al rigetto, tanto è radicale la direzione della proposta, ma è la conferma della qualità estrema degli Zu: qua ci sono undici brani che possono schiantarvi e mettervi in fuga in preda al panico, oppure inchiodarvi al vostro posto con la stessa forza. Quello che gli Zu fanno, non ha nulla in comune con i classici dischi dal vivo: Massimo Pupillo, Jacopo Battaglia e Luca Mai costruiscono senza sosta, improvvisano, aumentando i carichi, ognuno per proprio conto fino a incrociarsi convulsamente. I pezzi sfociano uno nell’altro oppure terminano senza finali e senza crescendi, senza cercare l’applauso, ma meritandoselo ancora di più per la loro integrità. Immaginatevi una musica d’avanguardia suonata con il furore del rock più duro: gli spigoli dei Karate che si fanno ancora più vivi, le trame ardite di uno John Zorn con dentro rigurgiti e scatti improvvisi dei Fugazi: a tratti sembra di ascoltare Charlie Parker eseguire il suo be-bop con forme hardcore, continuamente improvvisate anziché ripetute. In realtà ogni suono scaturisce da una ricerca inesausta, che nella dimensione live è costretta da una spinta ansiosa ed immediata a trovare soluzioni urgenti, per questo ancora più spiazzanti. Ogni brano procede con continui incastri, che, quando non riescono a combinarsi, cambiano direzione spinti dalla loro stessa forza repulsiva. Da qui il duplice effetto che gli Zu riescono e rischiano di generare sull’ascoltatore. E non c’è pausa: il prossimo album sarà prodotto da Bob Weston, comprenderà quattro brani in quartetto con Ken Vandermark e altrettanti in doppio trio. Un vero e proprio “zuism”
Mescalina.it, Cristian Verzelletti

Dälek Vs Zu

wal058
June, 2005
7inch with Comic
2 tracks
8 minutes

Zu and Dälek toured together in Italy and together they hit the studio in 2003 (Milan) and 2004 (Rome) recording hours of material for a cooperative work.

The first son of their cooperation is the Zu/Dalek split 7″ out on Wallace Records that includes only two tracks: Igneo Deadverse remix (by Dalek vs Zu) and Spiritual Healing.
The record also include an eight page comic by Miguel Angel Martin.

Igneo

wal028
April, 2002
12inch LP
9 tracks
40 minutes

This record is deeply dedicated to the Ex. Such an announcement immediately sets you off in the right direction, especially when it’s released by Red Note, which is partly owned by a member from the Ex. Zu is an Italian band that is indeed influenced by bands like the Ex, mixing ferocious punk with free jazz and avant-garde. Besides that band, names like Nomeansno or Aaly also come to mind, but Zu manages to stay ahead of copying, and delivers a great record. Igneo is a wild, loud, and demanding piece of work. It’s recorded by Steve Albini, has established avant/improv guests musicians – like Ken Vandermark on saxophone, Jep Bishop on trombone, and Fred Lomberg-Holm on cello – playing on it, but, above all, it’s a team effort by the band itself. Which is, in fact, a power trio consisting of drums, saxophone, and bass, but they’ve also a live sound engineer in their regular lineup, so it’s a quartet. Never knowing whether to choose free jazz or avant-punk, Zu decides to put both in the blender to create an inseparable emulsion of the two ingredients. This all makes an album not to be missed by anyone who has just the slightest affinity for punk with a twist and freeform jazz. The music is intense, it has a superb live sound, the energy is incredible, the players are all equally inspired. Great band, fantastic album.

Bas Ickenroth, Kindamuzik

Phonometak Series #1

wal075
Phonometak Series 1
September, 2006
10inch LP
9 tracks
27 minutes

Zu and Xabier Iriondo: The Collaboration between Zu and Xabier Iriondo is experienced on stage from years, started with A Short Apnea and most recently with Damo Suzuki’s Network. Now this mix of noise, jazz and radical improvistaion is finally photographed in a studio recording

Iceburn: Utah’s Iceburn are a legend in the underground rock of ’80s. Their music, at debut defined skate-metal,fused the languages of progressive-rock, jazz, metal and hardcore. Founded by the guitar of Gentry Densley, theu published records for most important labels of US hardcore: Victory and Revelation. The recordings on the 10″ split with Zu are their lastest studio work.