Zombi – Escape Velocity

written by: June 15, 2011
Release Date: May 10, 2011


Pittsburgh duo Zombi continue to be the odd man out on the Relapse label. Escape Velocity is their fourth full-length and fourth for the typically metal-oriented label. To be fair, though, Zombi’s Tangerine Dream-meets-Rush style would be the odd man out on any label. So unfortunately while the band has found a home with the label, they haven’t found a home in many collections simply because there isn’t much of an audience for them and they often get ignored by major publications. Fortunately their latest release gives music fans and critics no reason not to give them a shot.

Where 2009’s Spirit Animal was overindulgent – its five tracks taking up nearly an hour – Escape Velocity reins things in significantly. This five-track set only lasts 33 minutes and the listening experience is much more pleasant as a result. The repetitive looping can only be entertaining for so long. The shorter tracks also help Zombi focus on their strengths. With Spirit Animal the group attempted to stretch their compositional boundaries and the product was often cheesy retro-prog synth lines or multi-part tracks that were as tiring as they were tireless. Escape Velocity remedies this by sticking to the basics: hypnotic loops and steady, punchy drums.

Escape Velocity bears cover art harkening back to classic Rush, something like a companion art piece to the cover of Hemispheres. Oddly, this album bears the least-overtĀ  Rush influence in the sound. In fact, Steve Moore’s groovy bass work is missing on this one. Not only that, but the group avoids the odd time signatures they so often used on previous records, often opting instead for four-on-the-floor beats that make the longer tracks somewhat danceable. An interesting move to be sure, but a good one.

The streamlining results in a great first album for those who are intrigued by the group’s unique sound.

That having been said, the material here, like with all of the material preceding it, is going to be best experienced live. These guys kill on stage and some of the magic and energy really dies when put to tape. It’s hard to fully engross oneself in Escape Velocity and may be best suited as background music for gaming, but it’s worth a shot.

Zombi – Escape Velocity tracklisting

  1. “Escape Velocity”
  2. “Slow Oscillations”
  3. “Shrunken Heads”
  4. “DE3”
  5. “Time Of Troubles”