Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews
Loop 2.4.3. – Zodiac Dust – Music Starts From Silence /Analog Arts
Published on June 22, 2009
Loop 2.4.3. – Zodiac Dust – Music Starts From Silence/Analog Arts (no number), 43:00 ****:
(Thomas Kozumplik & Lorne Watson: various instruments, including steel pan percussion, drums, African drum, Native American flute, marimba, tom-toms, temple bowls, gong, cowbell, wood blocks, temple blocks, sleigh bell; Michelle Lee – violin)
Brooklyn, New York instrumental percussion duo Thomas Kozumplik and Lorne Watson, who go by the name of Loop 2.4.3., combine multiple elements of neo-classical, jazz, rock, and ethnic/world music. Loop 2.4.3. employs the gamut of percussion instruments, from marimba and steel drum to tom-toms, from African drums to temple bowls, and snare drums, wood blocks, opera gongs, plus electronics, violin, piano, and some unique instruments created specifically for the group.
Zodiac Dust is the partners’ sophomore effort but marks the first time Kozumplik and Watson have entered the studio: their 2007 debut, Batterie, was a live undertaking edited from a radio broadcast. Because the pair had the ability to spend some quality time on their creative and experimental material, Zodiac Dust has an incisive, more extended compositional structure, showcasing the artists’ wide-ranging backgrounds, experience, and synthesis of different genres.
Kozumplik and Watson’s knowledge base and previous achievements are integral. Kozumplik has performed as a solo artist, in orchestras, jazz combos, rock bands, and is currently also a member of avant-garde chamber ensemble The Clogs. Watson also has an extensive percussion expertise as composer, player, and instructor in classical, jazz, rock and multi-genre projects. This means the twosome craft compelling music that is not readily categorized, is never pretentiously inaccessible, and sustains a sympathetic and approachable mannerism.
After a short commencement prelude, "Prologue: Rebirth," the album opens up with "Dark Matter," a cosmic saga that mixes heavy and light percussion with open-minded effects and electronics. It is here the hand-made eLog is introduced, which Michael Wygmans custom built for Loop 2.4.3., which is essentially a log drum that offers a broader sonic canvas. To get crucial auditory agitation, the eLog is run through a Fender amp and a vocal effects unit, thus fashioning a synthesized, distorted characteristic. "Dark Matter" persuasively demonstrates that rhythm instruments can direct melodic lines, execute choruses, and engage listeners’ imagination.
At the opposite extreme is the discordant and contorted "Clouds," where Loop 2.4.3. put acoustic drums through an effects unit and a Fender amp, add loops, and generate fulminating, machinelike sounds from acoustic instruments.
"Underground" is fronted by steel pan percussion, piano and vibes, which gives the pop-inclined piece a Caribbean flavoring. There is a sense of playful post-minimalism permeating "Underground," a fusing of mainstream perceptiveness and a post-modern philosophy that is in keeping with the group’s accessible sensibility. If someone has never hummed to a percussion piece, "Underground" could prove to be the exception.
The epic construction "The Existentialist" also applies the eLog, but the outcome is cleaner, since it is amplified but not coupled with any effects. The moody tone is supported by wood blocks, shakers, marimba, cymbals, and toms, and has a textured tribal inclination, like a closely controlled drum circle, which perceptibly cascades to an up-tempo propulsion.
The title track has a contemporary classical design akin to The Clogs or The Bang on a Can All-Stars. Michelle Lee’s violin furnishes a chamber tonality, while steel pan percussion provides an ethnic/world music contrast. "Zodiac Dust" is anything but dazed or drugged; the stimulating melody that washes through the cut has a warm affection that makes "Zodiac Dust" something that can be listened to over and over.
Kozumplik and Watson end the program with a sequel segment that alludes to their first release. "The Return of Chickchi" echoes and updates "Chickchi," which was a stand-out track on Batterie, and uses that song’s multi-tiered fusion feel and modal music approach. The pummeling but precise passages incorporate bongos and hand shakers with stout percussion, layering a laminated beat that has a pulsating charisma. The duo bring the project’s narrative to a satisfying conclusion with "Epilogue: Ashes to Ashes," which adapts encircling, ominous voices, effects-loaded strings and expansive electronics that emulate Brian Eno’s ambient exercises.
1. Prologue: Rebirth
2. Dark Matter
4. The Existentialist
5. Zodiac Dust
7. I Remember
8. The Return of Chickchi
9. Epilogue: Ashes to Ashes
– Doug Simpson