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Zip Tang

Eclectic Prog

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Zip Tang Private Shangri-La album cover
3.95 | 35 ratings | 2 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cigarette Burns (7:11)
2. Knowing (3:29)
3. Exit 94 (4:42)
4. Maniacal Calliope (6:39)
5. Lines (1:40)
6. Big Crunch (6:00)
7. Phantasmagoric Haze (3:49)
8. Plastique Hey-Zeus (4:30)
9. Delete the Hole (3:25)
10. Gravity (3:46)
11. Iterum (1:54)

Total Time 47:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Faller / drums
- Perry Merritt / vocals, guitars, synthesizers
- Rick Wolfe / bass, vocals

Releases information

CD self-released

Thanks to rivertree for the addition
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ZIP TANG Private Shangri-La ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ZIP TANG Private Shangri-La reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Knowing ... what?

Due to their ambitious approach I once was pleased with the 2008 'Pank' album, though lost connection after that for what reason ever. Just right now in August 2015 the Chicago based band have a new album ready that shows them reduced to a trio - yet for the first time missing former keyboardist and saxophone player Marcus Padgett. Okay, where does the new ZIP TANG 2.0 expedition take us now? Hah! Easily to imagine really, when you're going to consider the album title. So much for the obvious knowing, or what?

Eleven songs are offered, provided with a lot of twists and turns. They are extending a quite unpredictable workout - yes, that stays even after several listening sessions. So I had to rewrite this a few times, since I occasionally faced problems to pin down the album for some mysterious reason. In any case they don't take it too seriously overall, well, this is not lacking of subtle humour ... just taking the album cover into account for example. Don't have the lyrics at hand, but in between I can hear them searching for the Plastic Jesus, oh yeah.

So let me pick Big Crunch to start with - maybe ambigious, maybe freaky - musically the opposite of a crisis because my favourite excerpt - though possibly has a cosmological meaning too. There's certainly a psychedelic flavour to state on this occasion. Surprisingly I could detect a few references to other bands here at the very start - placed with intent or not - like Fates Warning's 'Still Remains' or 'Zoombiance' by Rinse, Repeat. And other diffuse reminders which I can't name until now. Food for thought, still. On top of it this just is part of a declared song couple.

Which means the acoustic guitar driven Line comes prior. An excerpt provided with nice polyphonic vocals and yep ... inviting to sing along. You might sense it in the meanwhile - this album instantly won't be that accessible, like a pop oriented album would come along of course. A jazzy component takes a backseat (no sax, lesser keys) to the benefit of a more hard & heavy rocking attitude. It's Perry Merrit who has an important impact more than ever, due to the lead vocal and keyboard/synthesizer task, plus the whole guitar dominance, the latter often double- or even multi-tracked (rhythm and solo), also taking the acoustic part into account.

Rick Wolfe (punchy bass) and Fred Faller (lively drums) are suitable companions moreover, and this altogether - based on many overdubs - will guarantee a really lush and vibrant sound. Not a 'live in the studio' result with other words, I'm quite sure concerning the mix it took a bunch of hours to come to a final solution. Is it my pure imagination, or are they provoking a lot of references and relations? Some more examples needed? When the Cigarette Burns Perry counters with sireen alike guitar. And they will offer us the opportunity to Delete The Hole via head banging. Or alternatively, is there anybody out there to stop the Maniacal Calliope?

Bang! Brilliant! Their private Shangri-La is a well thought out curiosity, which needed some time getting used to. Based on my experiences gradually the wonderful melodic contours come to the fore more and more, weirdness turns into trickiness. Shortened to a three-piece affair ... so what, this does not imply limited opportunities quite naturally - no, not necessarily. They compensate this with virtuosity and creativeness, and last but not least they are definitely able to rrrrrock the house! 4.5 stars so far!

Review by kev rowland
4 stars And so, onto the difficult fifth album, which came out in 2015. Not only had the band lost saxophonist and keyboard player Marcus Padgett, they had decided not to replace him and to continue as a trio. Fred Faller provided drums, Rick Wolfe was on bass and vocals while Perry Merritt provided vocals, guitar and synth. Also, there are no guests whatsoever, which means that musically this was a shift as sax and woodwind had previously been a major part of the band's sound. Interestingly, this album finds the guys much more of a cohesive and complete unit than they had been on 'Das Reboot', and they were also releasing this only two years on from the last, which along with the change in direction is quite an achievement.

The jagged approach is back, along with gentler sections (which may or may not include acoustic guitars), but this time the feeling is of dynamic contrast and the different sections working to accentuate the other instead of competing against them. They twist, they turn, and Rick is providing an absolutely filthy bass sound which ensures that the acoustic guitar is stark in it's difference. The music is sharp, with venom and bite, refusing to conform to what people think progressive rock should be like, but it easily moves from this to something smooth and more relaxing, but one can never be sure of what is coming next.

At times this is strongly commercial, but then they throw in some Zappa-like twists which takes the song in a totally different direction. The guys could easily have thrown in the towel with the departure of Marcus, but instead have revitalised and produced an album which has a great deal in common with their early works while also moving in a new direction. 2017 saw the band again go through a shift with the departure of original founding member/ bassist Rick Wolfe, but thy have found a new bassist and will soon be recording their next album which is a concept that Perry has been working on for the last couple of years. Zip Tang is not a name known by many progheads for some reason, but five albums in they're not slowing down. This is an excellent return to form and I am looking forward to the next one with great interest.

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