Ultra Zook - Epuzzz

6 songs
18:22 minutes
***** ***


The trilogy finally comes to an end. Beginning with Epuz in 2012, continuing with Epuzz in 2013, Epuzzz dutifully concludes the strange musical journey of this quasi-instrumental trio from Clermont-Ferrand, a slightly big town in the middle of France. The band is describing their sound as zouk in opposition, which may be more humorous than actually enlightening. Sure, there are some complex polyrhythms that might be derived from the musical genre zouk, but it’s the rock in opposition movement that has left a much stronger presence. Combine this avant prog attitude with the tongue-in-cheek manner of a Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, add a cartoonish variety of Magmaesque Zeuhl, and maybe the surrealism of Devo and the Residents, and you’re already half way there.

Ultra Zook consist of a keyboard player, a bassist and a drummer, and thus have the same musical tools like Guapo, although the latter’s music feels much more earnest. With the French trio, there is always humour present, although not necessarily fun. This time everything seems a little darker than before. Last time there was a saxophonist helping out, this time the band relies on their own talents, and conjures a much barer sound. There is of course a lot of variety, especially when it comes the manifold keyboard sounds, and the rhythm section is insanely angular, complex and full of fast-fingered dexterity. The sparse vocals are mostly cartoonish sounds and occasional nonsense lyrics. The bass player also plays some flute that sounds garish and furthermore emphasises the strange atmosphere on this third and concluding EP.

If you liked the first two instalments, you will have to get this last one too, otherwise how could your life be complete? But you might be surprised at the rawer approach the Clermontoise trio is adopting. I confess that I preferred the predecessors a little more, but Epuzzz, which will be released as a vinyl record and not on CD, is nevertheless an astonishing piece of music that proves that the avant prog movement can have a sense of humour, without neglecting the virtuosity inherent in its style.

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