ZOLDER ELLIPSIS - Entropy Override

Zolder Ellipsis - Entropy Override

8 songs
43:22 minutes
***** ***


Phew, this is some heady stuff! Zolder Ellipsis is a band headed by keyboarder Tom Aldrich, a composer and musician originally from the USA who seems to be located currently in the Netherlands. The line-up of the band seems to be rather international, with the resumés of the involved musicians showing that they seem to come more or less from experimental backgrounds. The idea behind the album Entropy Override is to reverse-engineer Frank Zappa’s last big epos and first posthumous release Civilization Phaze III, but I promise you that you can also enjoy this album without any deeper knowledge of Frank Zappa’s vast body of work.

Apart from Tom Aldrich on keyboards, piano and organ, Zolder Ellipsis has Sean Moran on guitar, Chad Langford on electric and acoustic bass, Théo Lanau on drums and Ivo Bol on sampler and electronics. Despite there being no wind instruments, the quintet has a strong jazz sensibility, although they are open to all kinds of music. The five-minute-long opener Craig Gets Reanimated is the most accessible track on the album with a certain progressive rock vibe, in the line of the later Canterbury greats, reminding me mostly of the jazz rocking tunes of National Health. Next up is the one-and-a-half-minute short Zap Gun, a fierce jazz punk track with strong parallels to the wilder side of Naked City. Q+A hardly makes it over a minute, and mostly sounds like a duet between organ and drums, with a side dose of bass guitar. It’s rhythmically very complex but still manages to sound fun. Imperial Enlightenment is at a little over nine minutes one of three longer tracks. This track feels rather improvised, with the beginning section mostly featuring guitar and drums, followed by a bass solo section segueing into wild sample orgies, and ending with a ferocious piano free jazz extravaganza. Magnetic Objects is at a little over two minutes an experimental piece with jarring synth sounds and a certain atonal approach.

The album’s second half begins with another long track: Android Coronation Ball is nine minutes long and builds on a theme that sounds like a mix between creeping doom metal and an Arabian sounding melody. The long middle part, although somewhat structured, still allows the musicians to improvise. The keyboards have a certain eighties squarewave sound, the guitar is soaring wildly like Robert Fripp did with King Crimson in the first half of the seventies, and the sampler is shooting strange noises at the audience. This is followed by The Antidote Game, at eleven minutes the longest track on Entropy Override. It’s a quieter track, also rather free sounding most of the time, and asks a lot of attention to be thoroughly enjoyed. The three and a half minute long In The Hole ends the record in a truly lo-fi way, with organ and guitar slowly playing around a melody, sounding as if it’s hellishly hot and the musicians can’t focus any longer, preferring to let the album drizzle out in a languished way.

You have to have a liking for more experimental sounds if you truly want to enjoy Entropy Override. With me, it also wasn’t love at first sight, but I persevered, and after repeated listening, I got more and more out of it. Of course, the opener is ear candy, but not necessarily what Zolder Ellipsis is about. These are very experienced musicians who have recorded an album that is partly free, party structured, and will slowly reveal its secrets the more you listen to it. Its main theme may be robots and mechanisation, but in the end the overall result still sounds gloriously organic.

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