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

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cro Magnon - Zapp! – An interesting newcomer in the 'Chamber Music Rock' subgenre, this is a Belgian five piece featuring a lineup of dual violins, keyboards, alto and baritone saxes, and bass. Naturally, as might be...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues