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TRACK LIST: 1. Returns 2:58 2. All Up In This 4:15 3. TRNB 4:53 4. The GizmoTronix 5:26 5. Zvuk Volny 6:58 6. Six Foot Eight 7:41 7. No Napkins 9:57 8. Ben Ali Game Over 5:39 9. Five Zoid 6:27 10. Vague Haus 4:44 11. Pasted Trip 7:10 LINEUP: Scott McGill – guitars Dave Kloss – stick, bass Ritchie DeCarlo – drums; synthesizer Kjell Benner – bass With: Michael Manring – bass David Saia – synthesizer
Prolusion. The US band FREAK ZOID was formed in 2005 with Scott McGill, Ritchie DeCarlo and Kjell Benner as the initial line-up. They released their self-titled debut album in 2007. The same year they expanded to a quartet with the inclusion of Dave Kloss, and this expanded line-up released "Freak Zoid Returns" on their own Uniblab label in 2011.
Analysis. Freak Zoid is one of those bands that are pretty difficult to describe and place within a context, and to pull forth any obvious associations you'll probably need to have a real deep or highly specialized knowledge about music as well. And the end result is of a kind that will most likely be for a select special interest audience as well. Instrumental music is the name of the game here, and my main impression is that it's music of a fairly improvised nature. Drummer DeCarlo supplies elaborate drum patterns and complex percussion aplenty, supplemented quite nicely by appropriate and intricate patterns and effects from Benner and Kloss on bass and Chapman stick. On top guitarist Scott McGill supplies guitar textures aplenty, supplying melodic soloing, shredding, distorted twisted sounds and all manners of effects and varieties in between and combining the aforementioned features. From creations of an almost psychedelic or space rock nature to free form oriented, chaotic excursions to aggressive, frantic excursions of a somewhat more one-dimensional and undescribeable nature Freak Zoid is a band that really takes their listeners on a wild ride. The bass in particular has a tendency to take on a jazz-inspired delivery, and as such you might place this album inside a fusion context, although this is material well outside of the common grounds of that particular style. Eclectic is a nice and descriptive word in this context. While there's a lot of virtuoso guitar work at hand on this disc, the performances are actually dominated by the drums as far as mix is concerned, with the bass and Chapman stick also given a rather prominent placement. The guitar is mostly somewhat toned down, which makes it easy to listen to and enjoy the vast amounts of virtuoso instrument performances at hand. A couple of too chaotic performances aside this is a really enjoyable album. And among many strong tracks I'd pull out The GizmoTronix as a personal favorite, sporting a mystical, distorted sound probably delivered by McGill's guitar as a key feature as this piece develops.
Conclusion. Eclectic, virtuoso instrumental music ranging from free form jazz to frantic metal-tinged excursions in style is what Freak Zoid explores on "Freak Zoid Returns". With an arguable foundation in fusion, those fond of experimental, complex instrumental music performed by skilled instrumentalists should find this production to be a real treat. A certain fascination for performances with an improvisational touch will most likely be an advantage, and an interest in shredding and more or less tortured and otherwise eerie guitar sounds is probably needed as well to truly enjoy this experience.
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