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Zip Tang - Cold Coming CD (album) cover

COLD COMING

Zip Tang

Eclectic Prog


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Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars If you're looking for entertaining progressive rock music, Chicago's ZIP TANG are a recommended choice indeed. Definitely experienced, since this will be album number six in the meanwhile, wow. Although, after all, their first concept album on the other side. 'She Sleeps Beneath The Fullerton Bridge' advises the cover illustration, provided yet again in a somewhat surreal, collage-like layout. Hence this is dealing with 'the journey of a girl from the near west side of Chicago, born of a mother of no means, in dire straits and with little hope of making it out of her circumstance', like the band sums it up. So this is taken from the middle of life somehow, this especially given the current times of pandemic, growing poverty and lack of perspective. As the named bridge indeed exists, even may show some real references.

Concerning the line up we will hear Fred Faller on the drums again with a solid contribution as expected. Due to Andrew Bunk though they are having a new bassist in the ranks. And his first dedication is to offer a punchy bass line for the ultimate lift-off. Perry Merritt, as usual, rules with all the other necessary duties, which also includes song writing and the sound mix. Eh, if I'll get it right, Marcus Padgett does not appear as an official band member anymore, since 2015 at least. But he can't release, you may see it like that. Or, the other way round, they can't make the next move without having him involved. Anyhow, it's a benefit either way, he will add some nice jazzy glimpes to the fold with his saxophone, that counts. Now, continuing the opened story, Marie finds herself alone and forgotten. And that's where her odyssey begins ... The lyrics are encrypted, overall formatted in rhymes, which makes it rather difficult for me when it comes to this part of the show.

Transmigration - one or two may feel the 'Cold Coming'. Physically, winter in Chicago is said to be rather heavy. As well as mentally in the same way. According to the conceptual context this is quite a challenge, I mean to deliver enjoyable rock music songs anyhow. Though it works, really. Divided in three sections, the brilliant title track proves that, rounds it all up. Please reserve enough time for this masterpiece especially. Beware of Dystopia! Surrender? No way! I'm losing my fear, as long as such albums will appear on the scene again and again. 'Cold Coming' marks a wonderful Heavy Prog work, melodic moments all over the place, but also provided with enough rough edges. Stylistically let's say similar to the band Tiles, if you're asking for some reference. Definitely recommended, easily to check on their bandcamp page.

Report this review (#2416714)
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mother Mary Comes to Me

No Earthly Help

That is to say lyricist/guitarist/vocalist/impresario Perry Merritt and ZIP TANG side-kicks bassist Andrew Bunk plus drummer Fred Faller see little hope for lost souls in this day, in this age.

If I'm reading this concept album correctly, and hearing it for what it offers (a lot!), sweet Marie born to an abandoned addict mom careens from danger to disaster to death- unwatched, uncared for, unimportant.

ZIP TANG

Here's an ace outfit from Chicago, USA creating eclectic progressive music, laying down four albums from 2007 through 2015, losing then finding a bassist (who really punches up the energy here)...and devoting some years to writing and perfecting this creative tour de force.

COLD COMING

It reminds me of the ominous statement "Winter is coming..." from a certain epic series (books, TV)- the cold of public apathy, shelters that aren't, families in name only, predators waiting the young and vulnerable, a shredded safety net.

So this album, utilizing poetry of brutality, neglect, and heedlessness- yet with the loveliest imagery, conveys the tragedy and horror of being seen as subhuman, or worse, invisible.

Music

Somehow ZIP TANG welds together these poetic images with sometimes biting, sometimes hard driving, sometimes melancholic, sometimes symphonic progressive music.

And that gutsy, punchy bass guitar just propels it along.

Not to slight the guitar and synthesizer wizardry or the beautifully complementary, tasteful drumming. NO programmed drums can compete with a flesh and blood drummer using an acoustic drum-kit.

Plus the saxophone that wistfully, moodily weaves in and out bringing jazzy textures to the mix.

Synthesizers and keyboards bring sweetness and fullness.

Vocals

Near as I can make it, Perry does the vocal work, utilizing his sometimes tender, sometimes raspy lead voice, then utilizing distance and closeness, and some fine harmonies as well.

It all works so well together. The tempo and mood changes. The flow of tunes. The images of dank bridges, menace, pimps and pushers and prostitutes, the little ones forced to survive no matter what.

Mother Mary

An apparition? A kindly spiritual presence that does not rescue but is always present and encouraging? A hazy drug dream?

Regardless of how you hear it, she's key.

We are allowed to believe- to hope- that sweet Marie, punching bag, orifice, and human refuse, finds a home in the vast multiverse, the glimpse of stars in her eyes.

In Sum

Just all around wonderful eclectic progressive music with a conscience and a heart.

My Rating: 4.25 out of 5 poetic aspirations

Report this review (#2451026)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I first came across these guys at the time of the release of their second album, 'Pank', some dozen years or so ago. As is the case with many bands we lost touch for one reason or another, until Perry Merritt (vocals, guitars, synthesizers) tracked me down a few years back, and since then I have reviewed the rest of their catalogue. Now they are back with their sixth album, and the most important thing to note even before playing is that Rick Wolfe is no longer involved, and his place on bass and backing vocals has been taken by "new boy" Andrew Bunk. Drummer Fred Faller is still there, and the trio have been joined by saxophonist Marcus Padgett who actually left the band a while back but has returned to assist on the album alongside additional keyboard player Matt Gunsaulus who plays on a few songs.

It may have been five years since their last album, and they misplaced a founder member during that period as well, but the band have come back even stronger than they were previously. This time they have also delivered a concept album, where they tell the story of Marie, an orphan who is abused by her adoptive father, which in turn leads to Marie living on the streets and all that entails. Some elements of the story can also be found in the cover art, the result being an album which in many ways is quite dark, certainly from a lyrical perspective. This is not the first progressive concept album to touch on dark subject matters, and my mind is immediately drawn to the likes of Salem Hill's 'The Robbery of Murder' and Tr3nity's 'The Cold Light of Darkness', with the former dealing with a child's loss of their father by a drunk driver and the plan to seek revenge, while the latter also deals with the subject of child abuse. In each case, the band understood that to deal with a subject matter of that gravity they also had to really stand out musically and that is very much the case also with Zip Tang.

At times, the music is gentle, when they are dealing with something quite emotional, with lulling picked guitars and the sound of traffic while at others it is incredibly jagged and abrupt. The saxophone is used sparingly, which means when it comes in it always has an immediate impact, but right from the beginning one is enthralled as Fred and Perry hit it off as if they have never been away and Andrew seems as if he always been by their side with some wonderfully complex bass runs. The bass is often also kept quite high in the mix, providing a real aural balance to the guitars and vocals, while keyboards are often used just to fill in sound as opposed to take leading roles. The music takes us on a journey, the lyrics telling the story on the way, in a perfect combination which involves the listener throughout. I was sent this as a single track, with no breaks, so each time I listened to it I had to play it all the way through, and that is the only way to get the full majesty of this. It needs to be played from start to end, preferably on headphones, and become involved and engaged with the story. It is majestic, stark, rocky, fresh, complex, multi-layered yet full of space, with the result being their best release yet. Please let's not wait for another five years for the next one guys!!

Report this review (#2503109)
Posted Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Review Permalink

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