This September 2012 New York City band ZS celebrates 10 years of being a band with the release of SCORE, the complete sextet works from 2002-2007. ZS has been described with a dizzying array of musical vocabularies, and has performed alongside an equally dizzying complement of colleagues and collaborators ranging from Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P. Orridge, to Roscoe Mitchell, to Christian Wolf, not to mention hundreds of comrades from the Brooklyn DIY scene, that has been home to ZS' myriad incarnations and musical and artistic tangents. Belonging nowhere and everywhere, ZS has absorbed the editorial space of Howard Stern and Alex Ross alike, and filled the pages of publications like the Wire and Signal To Noise as often as those of the New York Times and the New Yorker, and are mainstays of the blog scene.. In 10 years of activity, the band has changed in countless ways without ever changing a fierce commitment to inscrutable aesthetics and execution crafted to provoke reflection and challenge assumption in the consumption of music.
ZS was born during the American underground moment of The Locust, Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes, and Orthrelm, and has performed and toured with the likes of Animal Collective, Gang Gang Dance, Battles, and Excepter at a time when those bands commanded the smallest of audiences. Through these and all subsequent stylistic permutations in the community that ZS has called home, ZS has remained singular in its style, never changing to belong, but always belonging as resident outsiders.
In 10 years, ZS has assumed no less than 10 distinct line ups. In 2010, ZS’ now seminal New Slaves album garnered the band a formidable amount of attention elevating the trio of Sam Hillmer, Ben Greenberg, and Ian Antonio to primacy in the public eye. Nevertheless, all of the expressions the band has found through its many members (15 in total) have played an integral role in the development of ZS' music. A particularly underrepresented lineup in public awareness of ZS' activities is the original ZS sextet that authored and performed the music on this box set. Interestingly, this line up was active without change in membership for longer than any other ZS incarnation, and takes up the first half of the band's 10 year career releasing about 4 hours of music available now on SCORE for the first time in years!
When ZS first formed the sextet, the band operated as a composers collective who played their own compositions. All members of the band huddled over sheet music on music stands illuminated by floodlights. The band was known for ensemble style rather than individual styles of the players, and developed a particular reputation for a near pathological commitment to unison execution of counter intuitive rhythms at an ear splitting volume, or at a virtually inaudible volume. Additionally, the band wore uniforms, a way of drawing attention away from the people playing in the band, and toward the group responsible for the monolithic rhythms and harmonies ZS spun out relentlessly at early shows. This stands in stark contrast to the emphasis on individual style found in ZS’ recent work. That said, this music is important in the development of ZS as it articulates the formation of the aesthetic and formal vocabulary that would form the underpinning for all future journeys the band would take.
At present ZS remains committed to constant change in method and stasis in intention - different means, people, and aesthetics, always meant to instigate questioning and challenge preconception. The band is working on writing their 3rd full length record and an EP, both due out in 2013. In the mean season, dive into the early world of ZS with SCORE, the complete sextet works, 2002 - 2007.