Zip Tang
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Zip Tang

Park Ridge, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Park Ridge, Illinois, United States | INDIE
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"Four Stars!"

The band's second effort 'Pank' is a really entertaining album filled with a cornucopia of impressions. Automatically searching for something comparable more or less Umphrey's McGee come into my mind when listening. First of all because of the fact that most of the songs are provided with a touch of jamming too. Deitrich Crashed My Enzo is a good example here. Basically a catchy song coupled with melody and rhythm variations - on top of it provided with a grooving jam section showing references to southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers Band as well as psychedelic patches. An exciting compilation of styles so to say.

The song title is weird though - probably they mean this sports car named Enzo Ferrari. And who is 'Deitrich'? In Germany we have a forename 'Dietrich'. A pun or lapse? Something which temporarily engaged me. Anyhow - they obviously operate with some kind of humour - best to point out with You Call This Art which starts (and ends) with laughing people. And the closing song Goodbye is their individual way to say farewell to the listener provided with marching drums and a pop styled mood reminiscent to The Beatles I would say.

However - jazzy portions are coming through all over, for example to recognize on Footprints - the drums and piano especially here. Marcus Padgett has a large share with his saxophone. He opens and closes the melancholic ballad One Last Beautiful Motion with a cool substantial contribution, an harmonic song with polyphonic vocals and floydy guitars. It's In My Head is an unusual blend of fusion and heavy psych and takes getting used to.

A punching bass line sends Katy to a heavy rocking and blues direction - but not that simple - a little bit avantgarde tinged which comes from some interesting saxophone dues once more. In a similar manner the album's title song is Zappa influenced. Cicada Jam irritates spiked with electronical experiments where the drums are perfectly imitating a train ride as for my impression. And finally I want to mention The Years dominated by duelling saxophone and guitar.

Some may come to the conclusion that this album is full of quite different music portions merged together by accident - quasi missing the 'golden thread'. Okay, if it is in that way - it's well done anyhow. ZIP TANG succeed to produce a varied output in any case and excellent musicianship is beyond dispute. Prog fans who like to listen to an eclectic mix of styles should take care of this - and won't regret. - Prog Archives


"Incredible 'True' Progressive Music - 5 Stars"

Pank is Zip Tang's second album, released in 2008 (so hopefully that should mean that there will be another one soon!). As with the debut, again we have a digipak with great artwork, and the same four guys kicking hard into music in a style that is definitely their own. Yes it is possible to bring in comparisons (this time possibly some elements of Mr So & So?), but this is a world of their own creation where jazz, prog rock, hard rock and art rock collide. "It's In My Head" has moments of incredible intensity that is offset by far quieter passages, so that the listener is drawn in - not wanting to miss anything. I find it incredible that the band have yet to be signed to a fairly major label as there is no doubting their skills or abilities - what they need is to somehow get their name in front of more people because I can guarantee that if you are a proghead in the truest sense of the word, not someone who wants rehashed neo-prog time and again or prog metal then you need to hear music that while very much of the current time also has its' feet truly set in the ideals of the golden age.

Rick Wolfe, Perry Merritt, Fred Faller and Marcus Padgett have a lot to answer for. The main case against them is that they have released some of the most inspiring and true progressive music that one is likely to come across. All that you have to do now is go out and discover it. Wonderful stuff. - Kev Rowland


"8 Out Of 10!"

Chicago's Zip Tang return with their follow-up to last year's debut Luminiferous Ether. The line-up remains constant with Marcus Padgett singing most of the lead vocals in addition to playing keyboards and sax, Rick Wolfe playing the bass and singing the high backing vocals, Perry Merritt taking the lead vocalist role on two songs but primarily concentrating on guitar and Fred Faller filling in the back beat and holding things together behind the drum stool. Considering Luminiferous Ether was widely received as an impressive effort for a first album, helped in no small part by the ambitious and amusing cover of ELP's Tarkus, the band have really gone out to make Pank just that little bit extra bit special. And, largely, they have succeeded. The sound quality and production is first rate, the cover artwork is excellent and, most importantly, the music maintains the high quality eclectic mix of modern prog explored on the debut.

Variety is the key element that makes the album so interesting, one is never quite sure what is coming next; even after repeated listenings the album has the ability to surprise. Opener Footprints is the most 'conventional' of songs with a verse, chorus, verse chorus, middle eight, chorus approach, but is an immediately loveable number, with a strong melody, great use of backing vocals and a classy arrangement. It's In My Head initially sounds like a proged-up and psychedelicised head-on collision of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More the comparison blunted when the band construct their own unique sounding instrumental passage where sax and guitar combine brilliantly backed by an ominous bass line. Katy continues in a similar manner with some wild sax sounds introducing the track. The prominent bass line is a constant fixture throughout the song, even when the rest of the band break out into a jazzy interlude or Merritt takes a solo. The vocals are rather angry in tone and, somewhat surprisingly, the song ends with a handful of bars of blues. Industrial sounds begin Leaving Nothing which makes greater use of keyboards in a slower number that is pumped with atmosphere. Merritt again contributes a nice solo. The live in the studio Cicada Jam, so-called because of the recording of cicadas added to provide a link with the previous track, is a strange number, somewhat akin to the idea behind The Waiting Room on the Genesis Lamb album. But, within the context of a Zip Tang album, it adds to the variety and its inclusion does not seem out of place.

Hot contender for favourite song must be One Last Beautiful Motion, which, like Footprints, features extensive use of backing and counterpoint vocals. A gritty Hammond organ sound, excellent drumming, haunting sax melody and sharp guitar playing give the song an identity all of its own. Pank is a free-for-all riot which must be a show-stopper live. There is something very Van der Graaf Generator sounding about the final minute or so, which is never a bad thing in my book. Deitrich Crashed My Enzo is split into two separate parts. The tale of Deitrich crashing the Enzo and running off leaving his gun behind leaving the Enzo's owner to face the music, takes up the first couple of minutes which is followed by a long instrumental section that again makes good use of the keyboards to provide both rhythm and lead. The Years and You Call This Art? are the two numbers featuring Merritt on lead vocals and it has to be said that he does a jolly decent job of it, particularly on the first of these tracks. Starting with an initial vocal that has a dreamy/melancholy feel the song then breaks out into some dissonant sax and guitar sections. Things come back together for a rousing ending which is more resolute and determined than the beginning, or is it? You Call This Art? is taken at a faster pace and is more in your face. Again, Wolfe's bass plays an important and dominant role but the band pull together superbly for the heavy instrumental section. Final track Goodbye is at first a little disappointing as the vocal section is, to my mind, a bit weak. However, as soon as they reach the final line of lyric, the band, and the song, takes off rising to a grand ending replete with synthesised string accompaniment.

Zip Tang have lived up to their early promise by releasing a sophomore album that is every bit as good as the debut. If you liked Luminiferous Ether, and it seems quite a few of you did, then there is nothing on Pank that will disappoint. If you have not yet heard the band then check out their website to hear tracks from both albums.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

MARK HUGHES - Dutch Progressive Rock Page


"Highly Recommended"

The North American band Zip Tang was founded in 2003 in Chicago, by Perry Merritt (guitar, vocals) and Richard Wolfe (bass, backing vocals). The line-up was completed with Fred Faller (drums) and Marcus Padgett (saxophones, keyboards, synthesizers and vocals). Under the name of "RPM", the band started out playing covers of "Steely Dan", "Santana", "The Allman Brothers", "Jeff Beck", and "Yes" - influences that are still present in their work. They changed the name for Zip Tang and released a debut album “Luminiferous Ether” (2007), which received excellent reviews from the specialized press (see under Reviews 2007). The second album - “Pank” (2008) - was nominated for the “Just Plain Folks 2009 Awards” (to happen in 29th August) in the categories of “Best Prog Rock Album” and “Best Prog Songs” (with “Footprints” and “Katy”). A righteous nomination, indeed, for “Pank” rises above the level of excellence. It represents a step farther in the evolution of this talented quartet that must be reckoned for their high-quality musicianship. Although this album seems more “jammed” than the first work, the band is by no means retreating, but refining their style and originality. The ever-changing rhythmic base is supported by drums that go from ethnical beats to Jazz and Experimental, and bass lines that may do strange mixtures of Heavy Metal, Jazz, Rock and Latino – remembering bands like "Frank Zappa", "King Crimson", "Traffic", "Steely Dan", "Yes", "Santana', "Return To Forever" and even "Primus". Guitars go from Jazz-Rock to Blues, including some heavier riffs, adding influences of "Cream", "Jeff Beck", "Allman Brothers", and "John Lee Hooker". Unusual passages of sax lead to inevitable comparisons with "Van der Graaf Generator", but genuine jazzy moods are also present in sophisticated passages, remembering the work of "Miles Davis" and even "Burt Bacharach". Different textures of keyboards cover the songs with a progressive air. Vocals by Marcus are mainly ironic, in the manner of "Zappa", or melancholic like "Pink Floyd". “Pank” brings 11 tracks. The sound of inverted guitars and ethnical beats in the introduction of the opening track - “Footprints” - is a sign that Zip Tang is still warming up and great things are yet to come. In fact, many Pink Floydian melancholic vocals, psychedelic instrumental sections, and jazzy saxophones will be heard on tracks like “It’s in my Head“ and “One Last Beautiful Motion“ - the later brings a fantastic guitar solo – hovering, nostalgic and beautiful. One of the nominated songs - “Katy“ - is one of the best tracks. It is built over a heavy and tense bass line, ending on long passages of jazz and blues. The creative talent of "Robert Fripp" and the musical irreverence of "Frank Zappa" are ever present, celebrated on tracks like “Leaving Nothing“ and “Cicada Jam“ – both stuffed with experimental sounds and percussion, bringing that mysterious feeling of entering an exotic jungle. Zappa‘s irreverence is still present on the craziness of “Deitrich Crashed my Enzo“ and “You Call This Art?“, the later is trespassed by Hard Rock riffs and Blues solos – influence of "Jeff Back". Differing a bit from the rest of the album, “The Years“ is a kind of ballad that joins the acoustic guitars of "Allman Brothers" with the sax of "Van der Graaf". The remaining songs, “Pank“ and “Goodbye“, bring back the seventies in that jazzy-funky-Latin fashion of "Steely Dan", "Santana", and "Return to Forever", featuring many improvisations of bass, guitars, drums and sax. Particularly on “Goodbye”, the closing sax solo sounds like a farewell melody. But please, Zip Tangers, don’t say goodbye – come back with a third! Zip Tang is highly recommended for lovers of Rock of the 70’s and fans of modern Progressive bands like "Flower Kings", "Neal Morse", "Spock’s Beard", "Black Bonzo", "Tiles" and so on… - Progressive Rock Brazil E-zine


Discography

LUMINIFEROUS ETHER - 2007
PANK - 2008
FEED OUR HEADS - 2010

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Bio

Nowadays, the best expressions and attitudes of progressive rock are able to form eclectic mixtures, yet they mostly embrace independent striking values, being either classic, new-waved, drenched, alternative, powerful or sensible, underground or mainstreamed, artistically rooted or experimentally diluted. Up this kind of a scale, ZIP TANG, a four-piece band from Chicago, prefers to play something from the classic influences, the nice modern art and the bit of indispensable jam and "new music" - in a manner that, currently, gets optimistic praises, plus in a musically attractive empathy that can score, further on, more and more important progressive qualities.

The band is made of four musicians, all with both old-school and new-manner rock qualities. Marcus Padgett is vocalist and keyboardist, but most impressively he plays the sax. He mainly perfected, over years, a music of New-Age, Rock and Jazz wind-ups. Rick Wolfe, bassist and vocalist, played instead in a lot of bands, finding a good edge in hard rock. Perry Merritt is the third vocalist in ZIP TANG, but he essentially plays the guitar, under a style of moods and grips. Fred Faller is "only" a drummer, yet his bigger passions (culminating in soft Avant-Garde or pure Fusion) do reflect the essential precision.

Thanks to a powerful debut, called "Luminiferous Ether", which was heavily worked, produced and refined in 2006 and finally released in 2007, their music seems to approach "the irreverence of Frank ZAPPA with the majesty of KING CRIMSON and the vocal harmonies of YES". The band members also like to believe in the influences of artists like Steely DAN, PORCUPINE TREE, Kevin GILBERT or PHISH. The character of some pieces tend to be of an independent style and flash - thus, one or two such compositions work on a space rock tendency (or deep fantasy), PINK FLOYD being commonly referenced, others on fusion sound - and so. Finally, there is a clear sense of classic prog rock, since the band covers curiously, but strongly, EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER's "Tarkus", as a bonus treat to the entire album.

The modern rock air of ZIP TANG is essentially fresh, interesting to hear and slippery as art. Their great jam reminds, occasionally, of pure rock and new art. The firm classic influences are nice and beloved, but also rapid, carving ZIP TANG as both original and alternative in progressive rock's deep stream.

:::Victor "Philip" Parau:::(Ricochet) - ProgArchives.com