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Ultra Zook - Ultra Zook CD (album) cover


Ultra Zook



3.96 | 9 ratings

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4 stars Ultra Zook is a RIO/Avant Prog band from France that was formed in 2011. Their music consists of experimental rock performed by a basic guitar/keyboard/drum set up. They have produced 3 EPs during their time together, and finally, in March of 2019, put together their first studio album named after their band. This album consists of the original line-up consisting of Benjamin Bardiaux on keyboards, flute and vocals; Remi Faraut on drums, flute and vocals; and Emmanuel Slachoua on bass, flute and vocals. The album is made up of 10 songs with only one exceeding the 5 minute mark. The total run-time is just over 38 minutes.

It all starts off with "What Kind of Juicy Fruit Are You?", and you get the tasty, bright flavors of tapping percussion, happy flutes and sunshiny days in this odd combination of bright music that sounds like warped island music. The vocals are just as bright and happy as the music, with harmonies that sound like the Beach Boys on acid. As appealing and commercial as that all sounds, it isn't that at all. It is definitely weird, which is what one expects when you get 3 flautists and a bit of humor and mix it all together. The percussion comes and goes, and at times, it is only just the 3 flutes playing together. This sunny oddness continues on into "Conderougno" with the high pitched happy vocals, tonal percussion and occasional atmospheric breaks. The music is nutty, but you can't stop listening. Okay, that's all fun and original and everything, but just when you think you've heard it all, the music suddenly goes upbeat sounding like an island party and the addition of none other than bagpipes, because that is the last thing you would expect.

"La Plasticite Mentale du Monsieur" tries it's best to sound cheery, but it has some ominous organ added in and some strange vocals that sing along hesitantly, even adding in some "uhhhs" and each syllable (in French) annunciated like it's the most important thing you will hear today. "Gebeli Gibelo" starts off a cappella and then slips into a rhumba with tacky sounding synths and tonal percussion. Halfway through, you get what sounds like guest vocals from Mickey Mouse (or Topolino) as the music turns the cheerfulness and tempo up a few notches. Then it all ends with a solo piano playing in a rhapsodic manner as the band makes believe it is suddenly serious. "Ping Pong" is as nutty as you expect. The sound has a solider beat, almost like a ping-pong ball bouncing around and the lyrics come out one syllable at a time along with the beat, and later a counterpunctual vocal sings in between the words just to make things even more confusing. Even the tacky keyboards are fun. If you played this music with toy instruments, it wouldn't sound much different, and that's what makes it all fun. And bagpipes again!

"Hmong Song" is the longest track here at over 5 minutes. It's the return of bouncy room island tropical insane asylum music again. As crazy and odd as it is, you can't help but smile at it. Someone needs to go back to recorder school though. Even with all this fun, the ominous organ still seems to find a place amongst it all. Then something weird happens in the middle. Throbbing drums, scary, warped organ and a tribal flute maybe? The a dissonant synth with warped tones acts like a space ship taking off, probably trying to get off of this crazy planet. "En Veux Tu en V'la" sounds like a song made for warped children. See the happy faces? Happy? Happy? Happy!!!! Yay. Somebody got his finger stuck on one of the notes and it keeps repeating. "Frangipanier" starts off with repeating lyrics and what sounds like someone goosing the band member playing the recorder. There are a lot of percussive sounds and synths playing around on this one, and it becomes rather dramatic sounding at some spots. Vocals are mostly short and staccato with organ chords playing along. This goes on for a bit too long. "Espions du Ciel" continues with the same style as Nintendo style synths get stuck in loops. Then everyone gets to sing and play as fingerpainting class goes wild. "Kuwani" ends it all with happy recorders playing in harmony and shakers and percussion invite you to eat your Cap'n Crunch. I could be wrong about that, but it's all in French, so I could be right for all I know.

The music is fun and happy, and even though you don't know what's going on here, you can't help but smile, and I think that is what it is all about. There is nothing typical about this album, but it is Avant Prog, so you should expect that. The length is about right, because if it were any longer, you would have to be committed. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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