Exposé Online banner

Kramtones and Zzaj — Emotional Circus
((Not on label) no#, 1993, MC)

Zzaj / Kissinger — Critical Mass
((Not on label) no#, 1993, MC)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-03-01

Emotional Circus Cover artCritical Mass Cover artRotcod Zzaj is a do-it-yourself musician who produces his own cassettes, right down to the home-made packaging and the handwriting on the labels. Working in collaboration with other musicians, he produces a dreamy yet highly experimental music residing somewhere between improvisational jazz and modern electronics. Most of the pieces are fairly short — in the four to five minute range, and sound more 'constructed' rather than composed, finding an idea within a given area and working with it and around it as the material develops, changes, and eventually self-destructs. These sonic explorations are usually instrumental, employing synths, bass, drums and percussion, and other unidentifiable sounds (probably synths or processed guitars). When vocals are employed, they are usually multiple spoken overdubs, words swirling in and out of focus while the music grows around it, becoming essentially another instrument. Occasionally something can be understood, a word here or there, but in general the voice is just another part of this surrealistic stew. Both albums are full length 90-minute cassettes, and they move through a lot of different territory, like constantly evolving soundtracks to a long night of very strange dreams. Emotional Circus tends to be the more explorative of the two, while Critical Mass may be a bit more composed or arranged, and would likely appeal more to the listener coming from a progressive rock direction — but keep in mind, this is not rock or anything even remotely resembling it, but more of a pure sonic adventure. My only gripe is that the sound quality is more or less substandard, being quite bassy most of the time. I usually find myself wanting to hear the music more clearly. Perhaps the best material here should be collected and given a proper release.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 6, 1993 releases

Related artist(s): Dick Metcalf (Rotcod Zzaj)

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Hackett - Tribute – During the last decade many British rock musicians either went classic or strengthened their classical roots: examples range from Jon Lord to Roger Waters, from Mike Oldfield to Sting. Steve...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues