Here's an all important delivery of spaced-out, sci-fi prog rock for y'all. Zoltan's 'Sixty Minute Zoom' is unapologetic about its synth-soundtracked fictions and geeky narratives, instead folding them into twenty-minute suites based on dystopian novels from the '20s. Electronic prog rock isn't much cooler than middle-class rock band prog rock -- but it is as fun.
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It’s all about atmosphere, dudes. Spooky London band Zoltan make instrumental jams that do little else than shoot for a dictionary definition of the word “ominous”, with sustained synth-work and minor key inflections that rest on your interpretation and scope for imagination. With no samples or expositional vocals, this record gets by on a lot of drum fills, curtain-pulling electronics and the occasional bassline, because prog is always best when it grooves its way into the back of your head. Otherwise I’m pretty sure no one would listen to it.
‘Sixty Minute Zoom’ is kind of like if Goblin got too stoned to perform their usual pantomime rock and had to settle for something more quietly terrifying instead; though Zoltan can often lay it on as thick as their theatre rock heroes -- as the grandiose ambient overture and sinister noisiness of “Table of Hours” can attest -- they’re crafting a modest record here, one that doesn’t often climax, but instead lets its sound stifle to give off the feeling of being trapped at some shitty disco where Gentle Giant are dissing you on the dancefloor. “The Ossuary” toys with funky bass but trades it all in for vocal howls that sound how ‘Heaven and Hell’ would have if Vangelis had hired one singer instead of the whole English Chamber choir. The flip is where shit’s supposed to go down, with laser-beaming synth a firm backbone for a five suited epic called “The Integral’, which trades in the krautrock of Can, the ambient refusals of Tangerine Dream and all your standard prog-rock showboating. It’s proof of an accomplished band who know exactly what they’re doing. If you don’t know how to translate prog into English, though, you’re rather stuck.
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