Drummer A.E. Paterra and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Moore are back as Zombi – and back for the first time in nearly a decade making music in the same room together. Here, with their latest album we’re reminded of their film-score fixation (Mission Creep feels like something by John Carpenter as interpreted by prog-heads who grew up on a steady diet of early/mid-period Genesis and Rush) and we get something of a slowed-down synth-groove-riding version of TransAm. Both of these are, by the way, very good things to receive.
As Shape Shift ploughs on, we get a modern prog epic in the 8-minute Interstellar Package, something that shows up the twee/novelty-factor approach of the likes of Ratatat and even Battles.
But it’s hard to escape that John Carpenter-in-the-80s feel, and why would you want to…Toroidal Vortices coasts on a bassline that could have come from the They Live score, Total Breakthrough has elements of Starman’s soundtrack if lifted and layered through a gym workout drum routine, and the closing slow-build epic, Siberia II has something of an Escape From New York energy, albeit slowed just slightly.
Paterra and Moore both have film score side-projects and Goblin is another obvious touchstone for this duo, as swirling mists of synth float in and out around the steady ride-cymbal pulse. It’s a welcome return for Zombi after nearly five years out, during which Paterra formed Contact with the video-game soundtrack composer, Paul Lawler and Moore pursued his own career as a film composer.
What is most pleasing – and sometimes surprising – is that though the structures here suggest prog, there is a hummable-melody quality to these works, they feel, in as much as instrumental music ever does, like songs, not just like cues to a film you’re never see, or clues back to a record collection. There’s something hypnotic here, certainly, but part of that is the way a track like opener, Pillars of the Dawn, not only puts you in the scene but in fact creates the scene. Vital, wise and thrilling, this is a great return for Zombi.