Producing work that is epic in concept, sound, and artistic approach, Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra, the masterminds and multi-instrumentalists behind Zombi, have re-imagined the architecture of progressive rock and dynamic instrumentals -carving a niche in underground music distinctly their own.
The band's signature sound, achieved using only electric bass, drums, and a collection of analog synthesizers, is deceptively lush considering its two man skeleton crew ensemble. Moore's bass playing and meticulous synthesizer programming interacts seamlessly with Paterra's controlled, precision drumming -as if each man is anticipating his counterpart's next move. Punctuated by Moore and Paterra's seasoned songwriting skills, each Zombi song -whether grand in design like "Night Rhythms" from the band's forthcoming LP or powerful and driving like "Orion," the opening track on Cosmos -is entirely autonomous and true to the duo's creative vision.
"I bring a lot of skeletal ideas to the table -basslines, sequences, and drum parts. Steve will then craft them into complete songs," Paterra explains. "There is a musical trust that exists between us that allows for full exploration of all ideas. We are perfectionists, sometimes to a fault, but I think it is a quality that lends itself well to the music."
"We share the same goal, which is simply to create music that we enjoy -it's rather selfish," Moore adds. "We have a similar list of influences as well, both of us having grown up listening to progressive and classic rock. So when it comes time to write, we're basically completing each other's thoughts."
Following the success of Cosmos -Zombi's critically-acclaimed debut album for Relapse Records -and a series of national tours with artists like Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fucking Champs, Red Sparowes, Panthers, and Breather Resist, Moore and Paterra regrouped in Chicago to begin work on their next full-length album.
"Surface To Air is a genuinely progressive album: bigger, denser, and more dynamic than anything we've done before," Moore says. "It's still dark and cinematic, but without being kitschy like some of our earlier releases."
"The album is an accurate representation of who we are and where we are headed as a band," Paterra adds. "It is the culmination of a style and sound we've been honing since our inception, but it also puts us in a new direction, one that I am excited to explore."
Larger in scope and sound, Surface To Air is an evolutionary album, anchored by the distinct melodic and technically complex sound Zombi has become known for, but more mature and forward-thinking in its overall conceptual approach. While the track listing may at first appear lean at a mere five songs, the attentive listener will soon realize that Moore and Paterra have composed and assembled more than 40 minutes of emotive, dynamic, multi-layered music -making Surface To Air a magnum opus in its own right.
Informed by the music and boundary-pushing work ethic of icons like Genesis, Tangerine Dream, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd, Moore and Paterra rely just as much on inspiration from the past as they do on their own skill and musical knowledge during the songwriting process. On Surface To Air, the integrity of tracks like "Challenger Deep" with its powerful, driving bassline, and the mysterious mounting tension of "Digitalis" are indisputable evidence of Zombi's artistic growth and allegiance to producing a diverse and progressive body of work. "Legacy," however, sidesteps, revealing a more introspective direction in Moore and Paterra's work, while the album's title track, "Surface To Air," opens with a frantically-paced and hypnotic synthesizer-laden melody.
Experimenting with a vast new sound, Zombi proves that charging forward with an expansive vision can open doors to an entirely new realm. While Moore and Paterra still draw inspiration from the horror genre when composing film scores, a broader range of influences -as well as a desire to push the boundaries of what they've already accomplished -now informs the material for their albums. Whether you're an adventurous listener, diehard fan, or skeptical observer, delving into the latest chapter of Zombi's prolific and ever-evolving work will never disappoint.