The Italian trio Zu are one of the more exciting bands to come along playing loud electric improv in a while. They’ve done quite well stomping down the fences between such pastures as “rock” and “jazz” and “experimental,” working with the likes of Eugene Chadbourne, Mats Gustaffson and Ken Vandermark. Key to their massive power is the electric bass of Massimo Pupillo, who shows up here in a power trio with Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and Terrie Ex, guitarist for Dutch punk band The Ex, pilgrims in rock improv.
Slap and Tickle was recorded at the Kongsberg Jazzfestival in Norway (so maybe they are playing jazz) in 2007: a heavy half hour followed by 15 minutes of noise funk that gets dangerously close to no wave. But as much as they might open the throttle, they never lose control and never fall into aimless pounding. The band is tastefully fluid in its workings, sometimes allowing itself to become jagged guitar with rhythm section, other times shooting and ricocheting more independently. It’s a riotous ride.
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