ZEBULARIN “Strangled Curiosity” C46 (Steep Gloss)

Zebularin is dangerous. It’s subversive. It’ll get under your skin and stay there, and then it’ll pipe thoughts into your mind that are not your own. You don’t know how Zebularin has infiltrated every part of your being – your physical person, your consciousness, your … uh, tummy? – and is now controlling your every perception. Your first instinct, like mine, is probably to fight it – what kind of alien entity is scrambling around inside of me? But listen: take it from me, you’re much better off just going with it and letting Zebularin do its thing. It might even leave you alone after a while.


The Stuttgart collective is adroit at the noisy end of the experimental spectrum, but they don’t shy away from pulling back into a minimalist approach here and there. Feedback and synthesizer mayhem rumble and squirt throughout the tracks, but stringed instruments definitely make their presence known at points throughout. Far from being a freeform freakout and letting walls upon walls of noise crush you, Strangled Curiosity is more intimate, as the title suggests, opting to toss you about like a cat does a mouse before finally making you its prey.


But as it progresses, the nature of it changes – it seems to become a little friendlier, even though there’s no way it’s going to let up on its control over you. And that’s all good – forms emerge from the sounds, and intention and process bloom. There’s beauty in the noise, in the composition – yes, composition (probably)! – as it becomes obvious this is really an ambient/noise/drone record played as jazz. And yet it’s really none of those things. Still, if you want to find kindred spirits nowadays, look no further than the excellent Bulgarian label Amek Collective. Zebularin and the Amek folks would get along just fine!


Oh, it says right here that the players are rooted in traditions as varied as “ambient, jazz, noise, classical music, postrock, or freeform electronics.” Well why did I even write any of that up there? I could have just quoted the Bandcamp page.