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About Zip Tang:
The North American band Zip Tang was founded in 2003 in Chicago, by Perry Merritt (guitar, vocals) and Richard Wolfe (bass, backing vocals). The line-up was completed with Fred Faller (drums) and Marcus Padgett (saxophones, keyboards, synthesizers and vocals). Under the name of "RPM", the band started out playing covers of "Steely Dan", "Santana", "The Allman Brothers", "Jeff Beck", and "Yes" - influences that are still present in their work. They changed the name for Zip Tang and released a debut album "Luminiferous Ether" (2007), which received excellent reviews from the specialized press (see under Reviews 2007). The second album - "Pank" (2008) - was nominated for the "Just Plain Folks 2009 Awards" (to happen in 29th August) in the categories of "Best Prog Rock Album" and "Best Prog Songs" (with "Footprints" and "Katy"). A righteous nomination, indeed, for "Pank" rises above the level of excellence. It represents a step farther in the evolution of this talented quartet that must be reckoned for their high-quality musicianship. Although this album seems more "jammed" than the first work, the band is by no means retreating, but refining their style and originality. The ever-changing rhythmic base is supported by drums that go from ethnical beats to Jazz and Experimental, and bass lines that may do strange mixtures of Heavy Metal, Jazz, Rock and Latino – remembering bands like "Frank Zappa", "King Crimson", "Traffic", "Steely Dan", "Yes", "Santana', "Return To Forever" and even "Primus". Guitars go from Jazz-Rock to Blues, including some heavier riffs, adding influences of "Cream", "Jeff Beck", "Allman Brothers", and "John Lee Hooker". Unusual passages of sax lead to inevitable comparisons with "Van der Graaf Generator", but genuine jazzy moods are also present in sophisticated passages, remembering the work of "Miles Davis" and even "Burt Bacharach". Different textures of keyboards cover the songs with a progressive air. Vocals by Marcus are mainly ironic, in the manner of "Zappa", or melancholic like "Pink Floyd". "Pank" brings 11 tracks. The sound of inverted guitars and ethnical beats in the introduction of the opening track - "Footprints" - is a sign that Zip Tang is still warming up and great things are yet to come. In fact, many Pink Floydian melancholic vocals, psychedelic instrumental sections, and jazzy saxophones will be heard on tracks like "It's in my Head" and "One Last Beautiful Motion" - the later brings a fantastic guitar solo – hovering, nostalgic and beautiful. One of the nominated songs - "Katy" - is one of the best tracks. It is built over a heavy and tense bass line, ending on long passages of jazz and blues. The creative talent of "Robert Fripp" and the musical irreverence of "Frank Zappa" are ever present, celebrated on tracks like "Leaving Nothing" and "Cicada Jam" – both stuffed with experimental sounds and percussion, bringing that mysterious feeling of entering an exotic jungle. Zappa's irreverence is still present on the craziness of "Deitrich Crashed my Enzo" and "You Call This Art?", the later is trespassed by Hard Rock riffs and Blues solos – influence of "Jeff Beck". Differing a bit from the rest of the album, "The Years" is a kind of ballad that joins the acoustic guitars of "Allman Brothers" with the sax of "Van der Graaf". The remaining songs, "Pank" and "Goodbye", bring back the seventies in that jazzy-funky-Latin fashion of "Steely Dan", "Santana", and "Return to Forever", featuring many improvisations of bass, guitars, drums and sax. Particularly on "Goodbye", the closing sax solo sounds like a farewell melody. But please, Zip Tangers, don't say goodbye – come back with a third! Zip Tang is highly recommended for lovers of Rock of the 70's and fans of modern Progressive bands like "Flower Kings", "Neal Morse", "Spock's Beard", "Black Bonzo", "Tiles" and so on… Band members of Zip Tang are: Fred Faller – Drums, Perry Merritt – Guitars, Vocals (tracks 9 and 10), Marcus Padgett – Saxophones, Keyboards, Synths, Vocals (tracks 1,2,3,4,6,8,11), Rick Wolf – Bass, Backing Vocals...
(Comments by Marcelo Trotta)
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