From the Grand Emerald Isle comes Zombie Picnic, the self proclaimed “four-piece Prog rock plot against humanity” hailing from Limerick, Ireland and bringing us their album, “A Suburb of Earth”. So what does one think of when Ireland comes to mind? Of course the typical and usual fare: Leprechauns, Potato famines, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, U2, 1900’s immigrants to the new world, Liam Neeson, St. Patrick, Rugby and of course grandpa’s hand crafted Poitin (Patchine). But Ireland has given us all that and much more as so many of us have come from Irish descent including yours truly who has ties to County Coleraine on dad’s side. So adding to the mix we have this band which is a joy to see and hear as it brings us a new band to review and listen to.
Four tracks of some great lengths and a well earned dive in to sub-space music and Prog creativity. As much as I love where Prog is mostly generated from; UK, Netherlands, Germany etc, practically every country has bands that create Prog but when you come across bands from lesser known countries that produce this genre of music it’s always a joy to discover. With all of the latest hype over here and probably in syndication around the world the whole zombie movie & television concept is over done for some of us but this is different, why? Well because this band is not here to eat our brains but rather expand them and open them as we continue our journey in to the world of all that is Prog. When the movie and television thing has jumped the shark, music is always an open door policy to expand and re-expand your mind, you always hear something new with each listen. The album opens up with, The b141 Frequency, our first glimpse into what their plot against humanity is all about. A quick cacophony of industrial sounds tremble over the tribal drumming styles to get this track going until we get some grungy good old fashioned guitar sounds playing along. Zoning in on what sounds a little bit AC/DC riffing here as the song begins its ascent it falls in to a very NEU! sound around the 1:05minute mark and the song zips off in to its journey as we get out first tempo/timbre change and the gears shift every so slightly in to this Post-Prog-Rock geared to highway driving feel to it. The guitars have a bit of From Monument to Masses vibe to it as does the song, very West Coast post Rock groove that roller coasters up and down throughout keeping you on your toes all the way through. By the 3:30minute mark we’ve shifted our tempo/timbre gears a couple of times already and the song generates a multi-faceted big wall of sound to it already. Where you almost feel that the song is at its end we are graced with some singled out guitar notes just before the drums skip back in to the fold and the bass glides inward to make the feel sleek and smooth along with the second guitar chords that accentuate the lead and drum’s skip beat. The second phase of the song has shifted the tempo/timbre changes a 180 degree here and we’re drawn in to a very 60’s psychedelia ascent and descent in to the colours of which the music is creating. Then, a snippet of typewriters(!) and a voice in the back snap us back to the office of reality and we pick up the beat again and we’re off on to phase three of the song accompanied with a glossy guitar solo that just gleans over the rest of the band with the drums being the second voice accentuating the guitar notes adding inflections of a very John Densmore drumming quip that he did to things Jim Morrison sang. A very clever addition to the song with the two instruments being dueling voices in the track. Phase three carries us to the song’s end with guitar notes ringing out and the voice leaving us with thoughts to ponder. At 11:30minites long this was a grand opener track and would surely be even longer live when the band plays out because it’s one of those tracks that have so many open doors to improvisation. It segues in to the next track, The Adamite Bomb and our narrator continues on with the music adding in its commentaries and introductions as they stomp the drums in with glistening guitar chords over top and an easy going bass line that’s both sleazy and sexy as the voice tells us of Kerouac and books of the like. A very 70’s feel to this one and it pulls us back in to our chairs and absorb the sounds permeating form our speakers as the clean sound of the guitars takes over the steering wheel and drives us down its paths where the words slide and fall off the pages of these books that we’re told about and they slip downstream in to rushing waters that disappear in to the sun at the edge of the land and time. The lead guitar sits in the background ever so slightly and screams like an eagle in the valley as the strumming chords in the foreground keep us level and focussed on the no longer straight and narrow path. The second half has the song gear up and get dirty shifting the gears in the tempo/timbre again as we’re now in the race with the others like us as we’re driven down the road that unwinds to a straight away and the song jumps it in to high gear giving us the wind in our hair and the words being melted in to our brains as the straight up rock feel has us going faster and faster beginning to burn up the pavement. We’re cut off and dropped off on some plateau to a quick laugh and more typing and segued again in to the next track.
The Cylindrical Sea pulls off the last remnants of the Adamite Bomb before it goes in to its plunge in to a raucous feedback beginning and then we’re dropped in to a grooved out guitar riff that then slaps us in to the waters to a softer and more gentler melody. Calm waves that carry out to sea and has the guitar soaring out and above the watery edges to the skies above and occasionally dropping back down to glide across the cutting water’s lip along with the drums cymbal rolls only to go in to guitarmony, the two guitars harmonize perfectly and double track the lead here as the bass brings us the bouncing drops of water that crash in to the waves and bounce back up again to shove the drums in to an overdrive and give us thunderous fills as the bass synth wahs’ out with a unique effect, one I have used many times over because it’s just awesome! We’re then at a stop as we hear a man struggling with what sounds like he’s piling up boxes before we go in to a very Floydian passage a la Dark Side of the Moon feel to it meets a snag of the Wish You Were Here record. The guitar again pulls off the stretching notes that almost snap mid-air before returning to the neck of the guitar and we’re finally brought to our final track, segued of course to keep the trip and journey going smoothly and perfectly, The Rama Committee. The very Timothy Leary type voice, could very well be him too but regardless he commences the last track of the album and the band enters in with royal dignity and graceful notes all around as a final bastion at the castle so-to-speak. The sound here is again that Post Rock sound and feel to it, this time in a somewhat Red Sparowes kind of way as they go full bore here with some clean up compressed distortion as so we hear the notes and not just a mudslide of fuzz. The drumming is sharp and witty here as the rolls and fills are tight and justified with the bass lines that carries its own weight with a melody akin to some of the 70’s punk music did and the guitars belt out riffs and chords as we shift gears around the halfway mark and it picks up yet a bit more. Around the 6:50mark the band ventures off in to a bouncy but whimsical jaunt to the tune and it has you bouncing in your seat or at least your feet are then we glide back to a gentle refrain and the voice continues as the band pulls back the speed and gives us that Floydian feel again of space and timeless floating around in it. The acid induced voicings double up and trail off in spots giving you the “experience” of the trip we’ve been on for four songs now that hasn’t slowed down in any way bad, shape or form. We’re carried away to somewhere distant when the music all but stops and the voice tells us that the moon will always be a suburb of earth.
Zombie Picnic gave us back the concept album where one song bleeds in to the next at just the right moment and the songs pick up as the others trail off and they blend it eloquently with their unique brand of Post/Prog/Psychedelic Rock. Surely anything more to come out of their camp will only be better and better as they continue to explore new sounds and devices that enhance their already brilliant collaboration of sounds put together. A band to look out for in the Prog curriculum and one to add to your Prog Collective certainly and as always you can find them below here and check them out. Enjoy