Zong by ZongRelease date: November 20, 2017
Label: Cardinal Fuzz
Amongst the large influx of heavy psych bands that are so prevalent these days, you very rarely come across one that finds new places to move to within the narrow confines of the genre. Often lumbering themselves with some overarching fondness for Black Sabbath mixed with the meanderings of Earthless, it becomes something of a struggle to find anything new to say. For such an exciting concept, the music often becomes simply boring.
Not so for Zong, a trio from Brisbane, Australia, who have seemingly found the key to unlocking that ever elusive trip. Again, they provide nothing new to the genre, but what they do, and do really well, is not over-rely on the riffs, and take a much looser approach. They also have a great ear for the psychedelic too, and much of their debut album takes place in the outer reaches of space rock.
Essentially one long jam, the four tracks on this album take a meandering and soulful route through the fabric of time and space. Offering new light on old shadows, there is almost a jazzy inflection throughout which adds to the whole sense of displacement. Grounded in the blues, and that ever present Black Sabbath influence, the heaviness here lies within the bass driven spaced out moments, as the guitars liquefy before you and the rhythm section rattles its edgy little beat. Nothing stays in one place for long as the music seeks new avenues of pursuit. There may be song titles but the reality is, they are all of one piece.
What sets this apart is the excellent ear for space within the music. Discarding the obvious riff moments, Zong seek to open up into new avenues where the tripped out musical essence becomes the lead, rather than the wall of sound collision of riffs. It’s an approach that works wonders, and there are very few moments where you feel the music is outstaying its welcome. It’s also completely psychedelic, providing a full on trip for the mind.
The very nature of Zong may mean that they may eventually run out of ideas very soon if they don’t find other avenues to explore. The jazzy style may be a way out from the heavy psych overload that will inevitably fall upon them, and Zong may just succeed in making an interesting career for themselves. As it stands, they have a rather special debut album on their hands which should take pride of place within any discerning psych collection. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in style and spaced out weirdness, and for now, that is all we can ask for. A great debut.