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Zip Tang - Luminiferous Ether CD (album) cover


Zip Tang

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Zip Tang are a recent addition to this site and came to my attention via the Bands Submissions email. They caught my attention mainly due to their cover version of "Tarkus" and I thought at the time "they're either very brave or stupid" but as the band admitted to me they are brave and stupid, however more of that later.

Zip Tang are a four piece and almost fit into the jazz fusion genre, mainly thanks to the fine sax playing of Marcus Padgett. In fact, the whole band are talented musicians, the guitar work of Perry Merritt also stands out. But what of the music, I hear you ask?

The opener "Tower of Tuna" is a humorous Zappa/Echolyn, jazz fusion sort of thing and is a good way to kick off. "Missed the Beginning" features Chili Peppers-style guitar , "Nothing Here" starts off with a lovely acoustic guitar intro, then mutates into something which reminds me of The Tangent. "With a Twist" is another funky number, this time reminiscent of It Bites. "Beta" is an excellent fusion style instrumental with some nice synth work.

This brings us to the aforementioned "Tarkus" cover. They have gone for the full works (when I was expecting an extract) and they certainly are brave, attempting a full-blown prog "epic", especially when they're not really a keyboard band. I can't really think of another prog band covering a prog epic like this, except Transatlantic and "In Held T'was In I", but they have managed to pull it off. They've been quite clever in slowing down the intro and playing the riff on the sax. This gives the whole thing more of a jazz feel. The fast section later on is also slowed down, and most of the keyboard solos are taken on either guitar or sax. Yes, they were potentially stupid in taking this on, but I reckon they've done a great job here. Some ELP fans may turn their noses up, but it's worth a listen

Overall a very promising start. As I've said, I detect influences from Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Tangent, It Bites and Frank Zappa, all thrown in with a bit of jazz fusion but they're all excellent musicians and the whole thing makes for an excellent debut CD.The only criticism I can make is that the vocals lack of bit of that elusive "something".

And in case you were wondering, in the late 19th century, luminiferous aether (or ether), meaning light-bearing aether, was the term used to describe a medium for the propagation of light.

Report this review (#142153)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Chicago-based US act Zip Tang was found in 2003, after Perry Merritt and Richard Wolfe met each other at a local jam session.With Fred Faller on drums and Marcus Padgett on sax/keyboards the original Zip Tang line-up was formed (initially named RPM), playing covers of Steely Dan, Yes, The Allmann Brothers and Santana among others.The debut of the band ''Luminiferous Ether'' was released independently in 2007.

You can't accuse this quartet of one thing: being unoriginal.From the first couple of tracks you will face a band with its own sound, that is a unique blend of Psych/Alternative Rock with typical American vocals but also with a strong jazzy feel in the instrumental sections with powerful saxes and guitars and also elements from Funk and Soul in their beats.''Doctor Plush'' is another different-sounding track.A mix of Psychedelic and Space Rock with a very AOR-like chorus and once more strong jazzy leanings.''Like We Did Before'' is almost full FLOYD-ian with some good guitar breaks and solos, while ''Beta'' has an evident Fusion atmosphere with good guitar/sax interplays and trully atmospheric synthesizers.Not every track in here is succesful, as ''With a twist'' and ''Searching for treasure'' tend more to typical US Alternative Rock than anything prog, but even this way the band finds some space for some decent bluesy solos, not to mention the odd presence of mellotron sounds.Zip Tang make also an ambitious attempt of covering E.L.P.'s classic track ''Tarkus'' in a very unique way and partly manage to make out a sound of their own.There is a strong jazzy approach by the band in a very contemporary way that hardly makes the listener even think that sometime this was a 1971 composition.With dominant use of saxes and guitar distortions and less keyboard presence, ''Tarkus'' obtains a new, totally different identity of its classic edition and this fact makes it very interesting.

A step to the right direction for the band or an excessive blend of unrelated styles?Partly the first, partly the second.The final feeling though is rather positive despite some minor flaws and the album comes recommended, especially to fans of innovative prog releases with a strong modern flavor.

Report this review (#702746)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Before even listening to the debut album from Zip Tang, which was released in 2007, I was mighty impressed. The artwork on the digipak is superb, and when one realises that this is a self-released album then there is the realisation that someone has put a lot of effort into it. That feeling only intensifies when actually listening to what is on offer. The four man line-up have all been playing music in bands for quite some time, and have come together with a love of wanting to provide something new and that the definitely do here. There are times when they are blasting out in good hard rock fashion, but even that is tempered by keys or sax, or they are bringing in healthy elements of Zappa and taking that on a journey with Proto-Kaw. One thing I found fascinating is their closing song, a cover of "Tarkus" that is treated both reverentially and deconstructed into a Zip Tang number.

This is powerful stuff, music that is truly progressive as it refuses to be pigeonholed into any particular area and is always driving forward. The proghead can only listen to this with a smile on his face as it hits so many bases. It is not often that prog music really defies categorisation or comparison but with this release these guys have done it. Intense and complex, at times simple and spacious, this is progressive music that demands to be heard.

Report this review (#904376)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

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