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SURFACE TO AIR

Zombi

Progressive Electronic


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Zombi Surface to Air album cover
3.88 | 23 ratings | 9 reviews | 30% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Challenger (4:29)
2. Digitalis (4:39)
3. Legacy (9:01)
4. Surface To Air (7:38)
5. Night Rhythms (18:35)

Total Time: 44:22

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Moore & A.E. Paterra / electronics & all instruments

Releases information

CD Relapse Records REL-CD-6545 (2006)

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
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ZOMBI Surface to Air ratings distribution


3.88
(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
30%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
43%
Good, but non-essential (13%)
13%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ZOMBI Surface to Air reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the kind of progressive electronic music a rocker can get behind-- engagingly powerful, fast- paced, and a little angry. Best of all, it's rock. A.E. Paterra is one of the best unknown drummers around and shows a marked Neil Peart influence, emulating Mr. Peart beautifully. His musical partner Steve Moore handles bass and a wave of lucious-sounding synths. The music takes from Prog as much as it does from Film and Electronic and the balance is quite successful, reminding often not only of Rush but of artists such as filmmaker/composer John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, U.K. and even Keith Emerson at his synth-ier moments.

'Challenger Deep' is a good opener but the pace solidifies on the second, 'Digitalis', a Carpenter-esque thematic that suggests any number of alien invasions, body replications and robotic takeovers. Simple rhythms with ever-modulating melodies and counterpoint support this track as it leads us to 'Legacy', a very kinetic, very well-played and very Prog number. Rush's influence is deeply felt here and this cut could have been something from the 'Moving Pictures' sessions, though these two players don't need anyone else to express themselves, not even a guitarist. The title track 'Surface To Air' grabs us by the throat and doesn't let go for almost eight minutes of candy symphonics, awesome angularity and vibrating walls of Korg sounds. Very nice indeed, and none of it artificial sounding or over-produced, always maintaining an edge and organic feel. The epic 'Night Rhythms' - clocking in at over 18 minutes and filled with mellotron sounds and soaring washes of keys - closes things out with more great playing and Saturday matinee charm. Dark at times but with sci-fi excitement and a craving for a future long overdue, Zombi really fit the electronic prog bill, proving you can do synth-driven soundscapes and still rock.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#124579) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2007

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This had a lot of potential...

I find progressive electronic music to be the most boring type of music on this site. It rarely captures my interest because of it's lack of melody, energy, and rhythm. So after hearing some samples of American progressive electronic band Zombi I was really intrigued. It sounded energetic and interesting, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

I was impressed by many of the songs, but I found the 18-minute closing track to be boring. While that never changed, some of the other tracks began to tire as well. However, I still do enjoy the entire album except for the 18-minute closing track. If that song had been replaced by some really strong material this album would have been worth at least a four.

Anyway, if I had to recommend a progressive electronic album to any rocker like myself, this would be it. The Neil Peart-like drumming is excellent, and I love the synths on this album. I don't typically enjoy all instrumental music, but I do enjoy Surface To Air. If it wasn't for that last song I would have given this a much higher rating.

THE MUSIC:

"Challenger Deep"- The first song starts with a synth chord progression with some cool drum rolls. When the bass and drums come into full force you realize that this isn't a typical band in the genre. This song has some great grooves, and it's a solid opener.

"Digitalis"- This starts with an analog-sounding synth and a drum beat going along with it. Around 2 minutes in the riff changes, and it is followed by excellent mellotron. This is another great song!

"Legacy"- This is the reason why I bought this album. I heard it and I was immediately intrigued. This is my favorite song off of the album, and everything is perfect in my opinion. The energetic riff, the excellent drumming, and the way the song builds off of one riff. This has great mellotron use and synth lines. This is by far the best off of the album. If the entire album were like this I swear it would have been a five star album.

"Surface To Air"- The main melody is dark and energetic, and I really like the drumming. It has a nice break in the middle that sounds very Pink Floyd-ish. This is another really good song.

"Night Rhythms"- This is my one and only problem with this entire album. This song is a bore to be honest, and it has most of what I don't like about progressive electronic music in it. It has some really cool moments, but it didn't have the material to be almost 19 minutes in length. This is a disappointment.

Conclusion:

Surface To Air is a good album that I really enjoy. The closing track is not good, but the rest of the album is great. That's why this album is so frustrating! It could have been so great, but sadly it doesn't live up to its full potential. I'm on the fence between a 3 and a 4 star rating for this album. It is really good, and I recommend this to any prog rock fan. Since it is not essential, and almost 20 minutes of the album isn't that good I'll give it a 3. But this is a very high 3 star rating that I recommend to anyone looking for energetic, synth-driven prog rock.

3 stars.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#252526) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Surface to Air is an album full of heavy Goblin, Tangerine Dream, and Rush influences. Zombi plays a very energetic and aggressive kind of progressive electronic, similar to Cyclone and Force Majeure era Tangerine Dream except a bit on the heavier side. If there ever were a progressive electronic duo to appeal to fans of symphonic progressive rock, Zombi is that band. Something about this album that is hard to ignore is the '70s horror-thriller film soundtrack sound that Zombi seems to pull off so well - this whole album (especially the track "Digitalis" could very well be a Goblin soundtrack for a film by the great Dario Argento. But, this is all original work.

This album does have its beautiful moments, though. A lot of "Night Rhythms" is cold, airy, windy, with serene synthesizers and Genesis' "Watcher of the Skies"-esque mellotron use, all of which work together to create a strong atmosphere that could suggest standing atop a snowy mountain and gazing above the stark, white landscape. This track is an 18+ minute epic, packed with both serenity and aggressive/explosive energy.

Aside from the electronics portion of the Zombi's sound, the bass and drums are equally important. The bass is very heavy with a Chris Squire/Geddy Lee influence and usually creates a great center-point for rock musicians to focus on. The drums are also very powerful, fast, and full of forceful energy as they quickly bat their way through the soundscapes. I usually don't care much for drum kit usage in my prog electronic, but I think it works very well here.

Highly recommended to fans of Force Majeure-era Tangerine Dream and Phenomena-era Goblin.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#442620) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Surface To Air' - Zombi (6/10)

For me, the music of Zombi has been both an enjoyable experience, as well as an underwhelming one. While the electronic music duo has always shown great signs of promise, their albums never seem to reach that expectation I have for them, although each album does seem to improve upon the former. 'Surface To Air' is Zombi's second album, and it is quite clear that they have learned a thing or two since the release of their somewhat lackluster debut 'Cosmos', most notably in the songwriting department. Although there are still large spaces I think could have been greatly improved upon, Zombi's second album is a step in the right direction for their brand of atmospheric music.

Much like 'Cosmos', there are shorter tracks here amidst longer ones. While the long pieces here are still drawn out and feel somewhat aimless at times, Zombi has really tightened up their more concise songwriting, with the first two tracks 'Challenger' and 'Digitalis' both being under five minutes, and both being fairly successful tracks. When it comes to the actual sounds that Zombi chooses to represent their compositions with, almost nothing has changed from the debut. Their sound heavily relies on synthesizer textures, and numerous spacial effects. Taking a greater role this time around are also the live instruments, which are comprised of bass and drums. It is in the live instruments can really hear the obvious influence Rush has on this duo, with many of the drum sections sounding like something right out of the Neil Peart textbook.

While the shorter songs have been improved upon, it still feels like Zombi is at their best when they go for the longer compositions. The final track 'Night Rhythms' is a fine example of this. While still feeling somewhat aimless in sections, the fact that Zombi has so much room to detail and work with their sound lets them create some very effective buildups and harmonies with the synths. Quite clearly, Zombi is a band that does not work well when they have a defined song structure to adhere to, and instead are in their greatest element when left to explore. All the same, the lack of ideas and generally very long time it takes for these ideas to develop is not always worth the payoff at the end of a segment, making 'Surface To Air' a much less effective album than it could have been.

Regardless, 'Surface To Air' is a good album from this duo, and the first chronological album that I find valid enough to return to for repeated listens.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#463032) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Miles away from the minimalistic ambient material which usually gets classed as progressive electronic, Zombi's music - evoked by the team of Moore and Paterra - exists in the boundary between electronic music and space rock, with Hawkwind and Heldon-esque grooves mixing in with plentiful mellotron and synthesiser textures to create an extremely modern and intriguing sound. Imagine what might happen if Richard Pinhas decides to craft an electronic trip which sounds like a rock band freakout and you might get close to the Zombi sound, and Surface to Air is a great place to encounter it. Worth exploring for all fans of space rock and energetic electronic rock.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#703040) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review by progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Pittsburgh-based Zombi is the duo of Steve Moore on bass and keys and Anthony Paterra on drums and percussion. Although labeled as progressive electronic on this site, their sound to me is an even mix of space rock and symphonic prog, featuring spacey keyboard riffs and lush soundscapes lying atop a rhythm section comparable to Rush's Lee/Peart combo. Some have compared this to a mix of Tangerine Dream or Heldon with Rush. Another possible description might be a guitar-less instrumental version of Argentinian proggers Nexus with Geddy Lee making appearances here and there. The keyboard work isn't in the same league as a Rick Wakeman or Tony Banks, but it's remarkably melodic and spacey (and better than any solo album either of them have ever released). I can't think of many albums that invoke astronomical imagery in my head better than this one. An incredibly enjoyable listen! Easily one of my best purchases in the last few years and well deserving of masterpiece status.

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Send comments to progaeopteryx (BETA) | Report this review (#1100964) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 27, 2013

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I seem to be partial to Electronic bands that use at least some traditional "rock" instruments, and if they also use mellotron then i'm even more impressed. ZOMBI are the American duo of Steve Moore(bass & synths) and A.E. Paterra(drums & synths). These two guys have to be big fans of RUSH by the way they sound on the drums and bass respectively. Heck even the background synths bring to mind the "Moving Pictures" album. ZOMBI use a variety of analog synths and the various sounds they produce are impressive to say the least. I should also mention that there is some variety on this record from a couple of heavy Space Rock tunes to a TANGERINE DREAM-like track, to the epic that is very cinematic and at times haunting. Normally variety isn't my thing on an album but every song is incredible.

"Challenger" has a very RUSH-like start and check out the ground-shaking bass when it kicks in. Lots of background synths throughout this one. A great sounding tune that is quite heavy. "Digitalis" has this electronic beat that leads the way as synths then atmosphere join in. Killer sound 2 1/2 minutes in as the mellotron is added. "Legacy" like the opening track features some excellent bass and drum work. This drives the song along as background synths then other synths that pulse help out with the rhythm section. So good! This is quite repetitive as they seem to jam. Fantastic! "Surface To Air" has this dramatic start as we get this urgent sound full of suspense. Again the drumming is very upfront and incredible at the same time. A calm after 3 minutes as the synths roll in. So much atmosphere here then the drums kick in around 5 minutes as it builds. Nice.

"Night Rhythms" is the 18 1/2 minute closer. GOBLIN did come to mind with the cinematic nature of this track and the at times eerie atmosphere. A grand display of majestic synths slowly pulse then mellotron joins in. A change before 2 minutes as synths growl then haunting synths take over. The growly synths return as they pulse. Mellotron 4 minutes in then it turns haunting again a minute later. Mellotron choirs and an uptempo beat join in. Nice. A calm a minute later then the sequencers kick in with cymbals, then spacey synths follow. Growly bass after 9 minutes then the tempo picks up before 10 1/2 minutes. It settles back a minute later with dual synths pulsating wildly. It's cool to hear the drums and synth beat together around 16 minutes in. Spacey synths join in as well.

Probably closer to 4.5 stars and at around 45 minutes in length...just right.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#1257088) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars Zombi's second full length album, "Surface To Air" is probably the most impressive work that the band will ever release. Drums, bass, & keyboards will creating a driving force inside your brain! I've been a huge fan of Zombi's music since about 2007, and since then I have bought and listened t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1154757) | Posted by Shadowavenger | Friday, March 28, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The US answer to Tangerine Dream? This band seems to embrace some of TD's approach. Unfortunately, not of TD's better moments are being paid tribute to here. Short of the disastrous Jerome Froese Techno approach, Zombi are seemingly hooked on reproducing the urban psychosis that TD used as ... (read more)

Report this review (#956077) | Posted by BORA | Thursday, May 09, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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