"Zorch demonstrate how good 'weird' can be." -- SPIN
These days, our lives seem like a creative work in progress on public display, scattered in bits and pieces across multiple social media. What if you were to compile the past several years' worth of your posts into one? Would it make any sense at all? Not likely.
The debut full length by Austin duo Zorch, however, is the end result of nearly 5-years worth of material similarly collected, then shredded, condensed and completely remolded into a solid whole. It sounds like two hyperactively creative minds finding ways to cleverly merge together effervescent synth blips, blue-eyed soul vocals, gang-chant backups, blurting EDM bass lines, frenetic drums, hazy psych-drone and even the proverbial kitchen sink taking leads here and there. Each song sounds like it could've been crafted out of samples from several different decades of pop culture history, though it's entirely the work of two exceptional musicians.
If Zzoorrcchh sounds like a photomosaic looks, it's because there is similarly a meticulously organized logic to it all. When Zac Traeger (keyboards, omnichord, vocals) and Shmu (drums, omnichord, vocals) first started playing together in 2008 while studying music in college in Boston, the pair would improvise and record many hours worth of ideas. Some of these songs are direct descendants of those jams; the duo picking out pieces of those recordings, re-organizing and reworking them multiple times and in various studio settings while also adding on and creating new ideas. Demo versions of some of the songs on this album were previously released, only to again be redone a couple of times over for the album. And, Zorch even previously offered up all of the basic audio tracks from early EPs for fans to remix their own versions. Not quite like George Lucas endlessly tinkering with Star Wars, but there's a similar conviction that the work of art is never necessarily finished.
"Every song is different, there are no rules," Shmu explains. "We are very involved in not just writing parts for our own instruments but writing for each other's instruments as well. It's a boundary-less approach." Likewise, Zac elaborates, "the whole process was very time consuming and intense, there are lots of things on this record that I'm sure only .01% of the world will notice, but Sam and I would get into very heated debates about." The band is also just as intensive about its live shows, often playing upwards of 20 shows during the 4 days of SXSW. They're also known for writing unsolicited personalized jingles for music biz luminaries and local businesses as well as myriad high-concept side projects.
Zzoorrcchh kicks off fittingly by easing listeners into their world with a slow fade-in to whirling synths, a stately piano loop and countless layers of sounds comprising "My Joy is Explosion." The minute-long tune immediately segues into the blissfully hyper celebration of life, "We All Die Young." Here, Shmu's rollicking drum pattern that might make Neil Peart's head spin drives Zac's frantic synth arpeggios while several layers of voices sing, "what a day, let's celebrate it/ I want to feel elated." Elsewhere, on "This Is The Way It Goes" neo-rave staccato chords sounding like computer error tones, marimbas and pounding toms meet cheerful vocals singing the song title's seeming lament. "Inopportune Sailing" starts off like a repetitive, perky chiptune from an imaginary 80s video game that morphs into a full-fledged living pop-soul jam. It sounds like Zorch actually beat Daft Punk to the punch at making their own organic recordings sound like vintage song samples. "Zut Alors", a longtime fan live favorite lyrically pokes fun at conspiracy theories of reptilian overlords with the refrain, "giant surprise/ We are lizards disguised/ And we're controlling your lives/ With trilateral spies." The album is a wild auditory amusement park that gets more and more exciting with each visit.
In July of 2009, Zorch recorded their self-titled 4-track EP at Cacophony Studios in Austin, TX. It was the duo's first attempt to capture their sound and demonstrate their wide palette of musical colors, ranging from tribal to pop. Choosing to self-release the EP and offering it up as a free download through their website, Zorch also gave fans the opportunity to design and create their own CD cases at live shows. The "Cosmic Gloss" / "E.M.F." single followed in 2011.
Zzoorrcchh will be available everywhere on CD, LP and download via Sargent House on July 23rd, 2013.